The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are to be questioned as part of a US defamation case brought by Meghan’s half-sister, after a motion to block the testimonies was denied by a judge.
Samantha Markle is suing the duchess for “defamation and injurious falsehood” following the couple’s high-profile tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021.
In a filing submitted in March last year, Samantha Markle claimed that “demonstrably false and malicious statements” were made by Meghan to a “worldwide audience”.
The duchess previously filed a motion to stop depositions in the case from taking place, but this was dismissed by Florida judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell on Tuesday.
A deposition is a formal statement of evidence in the US that is typically taken out of court and by an authorised officer of the court.
“Defendant Markle does not show that unusual circumstances justify the requested stay, or that prejudice or an undue burden will result if the court does not impose a stay,” the documents, obtained by the PA news agency, stated.
“Defendant Markle does not satisfy the high standard required to stay discovery pending the resolution of a dispositive motion.”
In their joint interview with US talk show host Winfrey in March 2021, Harry and Meghan spoke about both their families and made a series of allegations about the royal family.
Samantha Markle’s original complaint, also obtained by PA, stated that the comments made by the Sussexes during the interview had reached “roughly 50 million people in 17 countries”.
In the filing she alleged she was defamed by Meghan in the interview when the duchess “falsely and maliciously” said that she was “an only child”.
“Plaintiff – who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair – brings this action for defamation based on demonstrably false and malicious statements made by her half-sister to a worldwide audience, including roughly 50 million people in 17 countries who watched the Oprah Winfrey interview with the defendant, Meghan Markle, and her husband, Prince Harry of England,” the filing stated.
“Meghan – who was featured with Prince Harry on the cover of Time Magazine’s annual feature on ‘The World’s Most Influential People’ – published and disseminated false and malicious lies designed to destroy plaintiff’s reputation and which have subjected plaintiff to humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale.”
The filing also added that Meghan had used “the powerful resources of the royal family’s public relations operation” to disseminate and spread “lies worldwide” about Samantha Markle and their father, Thomas Markle.
“Defendant orchestrated the campaign to defame and destroy her sister’s and her father’s reputation and credibility in order to preserve and promote the false ‘rags-to-royalty’ narrative,” the filing stated.
“(It was) a premeditated campaign to destroy their reputation and credibility so they could not interfere with or contradict the false narrative and fairy tale life story concocted by the Defendant.”
The planned depositions follow the Sussexes’ explosive Netflix series and the publication of Harry’s memoir last month.