Meghan Markle Reveals the Real Story Behind Her Dad's Paparazzi Scandal

During her tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle spoke about her father Thomas Markle's paparazzi scandal and what her relationship is really like with Samantha Markle.

By Elyse Dupre Mar 08, 2021 3:39 PMTags

Meghan Markle is opening up about the drama involving her father, Thomas Markle.

On March 8, CBS This Morning aired additional clips from the Duchess of Sussex's tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, including a segment about Thomas' relationship with the tabloids.

Back in May 2018, just a week before Meghan and Prince Harry's royal wedding, The Mail on Sunday published a report claiming Thomas had collaborated with the paparazzi to stage photos. 

During her interview with Oprah, Meghan recalled how the British tabloids hounded her parents.

"There was such an obsession with anything in my world, including tracking down my parents, and I did everything I could to protect both of them in that media frenzy," she said. "But for over a year, the U.K. tabloids were trying to find my dad, offering people so much money to try to find his address. Once they did, I remember being told, there was a huge headline like, 'We found him' or 'We've got him.' We're talking about someone's father. And from that point, the tabloids, they moved into the apartment next door and across from him, descended on this small town, giving him gifts. The whole thing brings us to where we are today."

How Meghan Markle Forever Changed the Royal Family

Oprah then asked if Thomas' actions felt like a betrayal.

"If we're going to use the word betrayal," Meghan said, "it's because when I asked him…When we were told by the comms team this is a story that's going to be coming out—which, by the way, the tabloids had apparently known for a month or so and decided to hold until the Sunday before our wedding because they wanted to create drama, which is a really key point in all of this: They don't report the news, they create the news—we called my dad and we asked him, and he said, 'No, absolutely not.'"

While Thomas denied working with the paparazzi—even confessing to The Mail on Sunday that he lied to the couple on a call—Meghan said she still offered him help.

"And I said, 'You know, the Institution has never intervened for anything for us. But they can try to go in and try to kill this story. But if they do this once, we're not going to be able to use that same leverage to protect our own kids one day,'" Meghan, who is mom to 22-month-old son Archie Harrison and expecting a baby girl, recalled. "So when I said, 'We won't be able to protect our own kids one day,' and I said, 'So, I just need you to tell me. And if you tell me the truth, we can help,' and he wasn't able to do that and that for me has really resonated, especially now as a mother."

Oprah then asked if it was Thomas' decision to not protect Meghan that truly struck her. "And also me saying, just full stop, 'If we use this to protect you, we won't be able to protect our own children one day.' Well, I'm talking about your grandchildren," Meghan clarified. "I mean, I look at Archie, I think about this child and I go, 'I genuinely can't imagine doing anything to intentionally cause pain to my child.' I can't imagine it. So, it's hard for me to reconcile that."

While Meghan noted the paparazzi targeted her father, Oprah also made the case he had a responsibility in the situation, as well. 

"Everyone has accountability. Look, they've hunted my mom down and you've never heard her say a word," Meghan said, referencing her mom Doria Ragland. "She's remained in silent dignity for four years watching me go through this."

This wasn't the only reason Thomas made headlines. Shortly after the paparazzi scandal, Thomas claimed he suffered a heart attack and said he underwent surgery. As a result, he ended up missing the royal wedding. He also spoke to the press on multiple occasions.

Then in October 2019, news broke that Meghan was taking legal action against The Mail on Sunday and its parent company Associated Newspaper and accused them of unlawfully publishing a private letter she'd sent to her father. She recently won her case.

Harpo Productions/ Photographer: Joe Pugliese

In addition to talking about her father, Meghan spoke about her estranged half-sister Samantha Markle, who recently released a book titled The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister: A Memoir, Part One. When Oprah asked about the "tell-all" book, Meghan simply replied, "I think it would be very hard to tell all when you don't know me."

"This is a very different situation than my dad, right?" she said. "When you talk about betrayal, betrayal comes from someone that you have a relationship with, right? I don't feel comfortable talking about people that I really don't know. I grew up as an only child, which everyone who grew up around me knows. And I wished I'd had siblings. I would have loved to have siblings. That's why I'm so excited to be pregnant so that Archie has someone. It was really interesting. I mean, the last time I saw her must have been at least 18, 19 years ago and before that, 10 years before that."

Meghan then claimed Samantha changed her name back to Markle only after Meghan started dating Harry, noting, "I think that says enough." 

To read more bombshells from Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special, click here.

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