Meghan Markle privacy lawsuit gets underway in London

LONDON — Meghan Markle's legal case against a British tabloid was set to get underway on Friday, with the Duchess of Sussex challenging the publication of extracts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.

The Duchess of Sussex and wife of Britain's Prince Harry is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of Britain's Mail on Sunday, for breaching her privacy by printing parts of a letter she wrote to her father ahead of her wedding in 2018.

Thomas Markle, who was expected to walk his American daughter down the aisle, suffered health problems and publicly fell out with his daughter days before the grand wedding at Windsor Castle. Speculation about his attendance dominated the build-up to the ceremony.

Markle, 75, was also found to have staged paparazzi photos of himself in the run-up to the event. He has since criticized the couple in television interviews.

Parts of handwritten letters from Meghan to her father were published by the newspaper in February 2019.

Meghan's lawyers are seeking damages for misuse of private information and breach of her copyright and say the tabloids harassed and humiliated both parties contributing to their fallout.

The paper’s lawyers argue that given Meghan’s royal status, there was legitimate public interest in her personal and family relationships and that Thomas Markle had the right to put his side of events to the public.

This is the first court hearing in the privacy case and is largely procedural. London's High Court will be holding the case online due to coronavirus social restrictions in place in Britain.

A judgment is not expected to be handed down and no witnesses will take part. No date has been set yet for the full trial.

Earlier this week, court documents showed that in the days before his royal wedding, Prince Harry sent text messages to his now father-in-law, Thomas Markle, pleading with him to stop engaging with the media and blaming the press for souring their relationship.

"If u love Meg and want to make it right please call me as there are two other options which don't involve u having to speak to the media, who incidentally created this whole situation," Harry's text reads. "So please call me so I can explain. Meg and I are not angry, we just need to speak to u. Thanks."

The couple stunned the public in January, when they announced they intended to "step back" from the royal family, divide their time between the United Kingdom and North America, and start paying their own bills.

Some people in Britain and beyond feel the high-profile pair have been victim of ruthless coverage in the press that at times has been racist.

The couple concluded their final front-line royal duties in March, bidding farewell to fans on their official Instagram account, adding that "while you may not see us here, the work continues."

Earlier this week, Harry and Meghan issued a blunt statement to four of Britain's leading tabloids, including the Daily Mail, saying that they will have "zero engagement" with the newspapers going forwards.

Reuters contributed to this report.