Meghan Markle's former Suits co-star Patrick J. Adams has joined a growing list of friends and former colleagues who have come to her defense as she faces renewed criticism days before her and husband Prince Harry's tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.
In the CBS special, the pregnant Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of Sussex are expected to discuss the reasons behind their 2020 royal exit, which was recently made permanent. The controversial move followed years of mainly local media scrutiny of Meghan. In recent weeks, she and Harry have come under fire by tabloids and many people on social media for granting such a personal interview and in addition, over a newspaper article that claims the duchess once bullied royal staffers, which has prompted an investigation by Buckingham Palace.
"It sickened me to read the endless racist, slanderous, clickbaiting vitriol spewed in her direction from all manner of media across the UK and the world," Adams tweeted on Friday, March 5, "but I also knew that Meghan was stronger than people realized or understood and they would regret underestimating her."
The Canadian actor played Meghan's character's love interest on the USA Network legal dramedy series Suits. He and the California-born actress starred on the show between 2011 and 2018, a year before it ended its run. The duchess' final episode aired five months after she and Harry got engaged and one month before their royal wedding, which Adams attended.
In 2019, Meghan, who had faced racism even before she met Harry, gave birth to her and her husband's their first child, son Archie Harrison, who is now 22 months old. Throughout her pregnancy and just after the baby was born, the negative tabloid coverage of the duchess intensified.
"And then they welcomed Archie. And on any sort of decent planet that would be a time to stop sharpening the knives and let these two people enjoy the magical early months and years of starting a family," Adams tweeted. "But we don't live on that planet and instead the hunt continued."
Meghan and Harry's interview with Oprah will air on CBS on Sunday, March 7. On Tuesday, March 2, soon after the tell-all special was announced and as the TV network began to release promos for it, the U.K. newspaper The Times, which is not a tabloid, reported that one of the couple's former top aides had in 2018 made a complaint about bullying by the duchess, claiming that she allegedly drove two personal assistants out of the royal household and undermined the confidence of a third staff member.
The couple had said in response to the story, "The Duchess is saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma. She is determined to continue her work building compassion around the world and will keep striving to set an example for doing what is right and doing what is good."
On Wednesday, March 3, Buckingham Palace announced that its HR team "will look into the circumstances outlined in the article." Adams tweeted on Friday, "It's OBSCENE that the Royal Family, who's newest member is currently GROWING INSIDE OF HER, is promoting and amplifying accusations of 'bullying' against a woman who herself was basically forced to flea the UK in order protect her family and her own mental health."
"IMO, this newest chapter and it's timing is just another stunning example of the shamelessness of a institution that has outlived its relevance, is way overdrawn on credibility and apparently bankrupt of decency," he continued. "Find someone else to admonish, berate and torment. My friend Meghan is way out of your league."
The report echoed similar allegations the British press published about the duchess in 2018, when she was pregnant with Archie. The couple did not comment on the claims at the time.
"Meghan Markle is not a monster," Suits creator Aaron Korsh tweeted on Friday. "She's a strong woman with a kind heart who's trying to make her way in an unimaginable situation. I don't know the specifics of some incident from years ago but if late night emails makes you a horrible person, then I'm going to hell 50 times over."
The American-born former actress started facing major criticism in the tabloid press, mostly in the U.K., and on social media after she and Harry first went public with their romance. Kensington Palace confirmed their relationship in November 2016 and condemned the negative commentary about Meghan at the same time.
"[Harry] has rarely taken formal action on the very regular publication of fictional stories that are written about him and he has worked hard to develop a professional relationship with the media, focused on his work and the issues he cares about. But the past week has seen a line crossed," the statement said. "His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public—the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments."
The statement continued, "Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game'. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game—it is her life and his."
Over the next few years, the tabloids would continue to publish many negative stories about Meghan, often including comments from her estranged sister and father. Last month, the duchess won a privacy case against a British newspaper publisher for posting extracts of a private letter she wrote her dad.
In 2019, Meghan's friend and fellow actress Priyanka Chopra told The Sunday Times that the media criticism of Meghan is "really unfortunate." When asked if she thinks it's rooted in the inability of some to accept a biracial woman at the heart of the monarchy, Priyanka told the newspaper, "For sure, 100%. Of course it has to do with racism, it's an obvious reason."
Before their royal exit announcement, Meghan and Harry made their feelings about the British tabloids known. In a 2019 ITV documentary, the duchess got emotional while talking about being scrutinized as a new mother. Harry, whose mother Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997, told the interviewer, "I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum."
Harry, Meghan and Archie left the U.K. more than a year ago and have been living in Southern California since last summer. He has spoken briefly about the reasons behind the couple's royal exit, and has said it was his decision.
"It was never walking away. It was stepping back rather than stepping down," the duke said in a rare interview on The Late Late Show With James Corden last month. "You know, it was a really difficult environment, as I think a lot of people saw. We all know what the British press can be like and it was destroying my mental health. I was like, this is toxic. So I did what any husband and what any father would do is like, I need to get my family out of here."
In a recently released preview for the couple's interview with Oprah, Harry tells her, "I am just really relieved and happy to be sitting here, talking to you, with my wife by my side. Because I can't imagine what it must have been like for her going through this process by herself all those years ago, because it has been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we have each other."