Meghan Markle has lived in the spotlight for a long time, thanks to her starring role on Suits, but once she joined the royal family, things really kicked up a notch. Of course, being an American woman marrying Prince Harry (and a divorcee, no less), Markle must have assumed that all eyes would be on her, but as it turns out, some of her biggest detractors have been her family. Since she and Harry first went public with their relationship in 2017, Markle’s family has made plenty of very public statements about how they feel about her and the royals, and more often than not, it’s taken a turn for the extremely dramatic.
Between Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, speaking to the press every chance he got before the big wedding in 2018 (and even in the years after), her sister, Samantha Grant, writing a tell-all book about what it was like to grow up in Meghan’s shadow, and the other random family members who have come out of the woodwork to claim their fifteen minutes of fame, Meghan has had a lot to deal with. How much of what they share about her is true is still up for debate, though.
Read on for how the Markles really feel about the Sussexes (and the rest of the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth). It doesn’t seem like they’ll be quieting down anytime soon, but here’s hoping that Archie’s mom has learned how to cope with it all by now.
Meghan Markle's brother wrote to Prince Harry
In the days leading up to Meghan Markle’s 2018 royal wedding to Prince Harry, her brother, Thomas Markle Jr., penned a letter to the Duke of Sussex, letting him know that he was making a huge mistake by marrying his sister, even going so far as to call her a “jaded, shallow, conceited woman.”
“What kind of person starts out by using her own father until he’s bankrupt, then forgets about him in Mexico leaving him broke, over mostly all her debts, and when it’s time to pay him back, she forgets her own father like she never knew him,” Markle Jr. wrote, according to In Touch. “My father will never recover financially from paying Meghan’s way, nor emotionally from disavowing him. Meg is showing her true colors.”
In January 2020, Markle Jr. spoke out about the letter again while visiting the KIIS radio show, Kyle & Jackie O., and claimed that correspondence he’d received from “Meghan’s people” calling him “distant family” is what set him off. “Me including the entire family being chased around and having our lives turned upside down, under a microscope by paparazzi got really old,” he said. “Before I got in trouble beating them up in the street I just wanted to get some assistance.”
Meghan Markle's father was upset Queen Elizabeth didn't want to meet him
To this day, Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, has never met Queen Elizabeth, and he seemed to be pretty miffed by the fact that an invite to the United Kingdom had never been extended to him when he found out that she would be greeting former United States President Donald Trump and not the father of her new granddaughter-in-law.
“If the Queen is willing to meet our arrogant, ignorant, and insensitive president she has no excuse not to meet me, I’m nowhere near as bad,” Thomas told TMZ in June 2018, noting that he felt like he had been put in a “penalty box” after going to the press about his daughter and her new husband too many times.
Has Thomas ever met Prince Harry, his son-in-law, though? There seems to be conflicting information out there. According to what his son, Thomas Markle Jr., told Daily Mail closer to the beginning of Meghan and Harry’s courtship, his father had met him in Toronto during one of Harry’s visits. But according to what a rep for the palace told People, the royal wedding would have been the first time Harry and Thomas had met in person if he had ended up going (which he didn’t).
Thomas Markle compared the royals to a 'cult'
A few months after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were officially married, Thomas Markle spoke to The Sun, comparing the royal family that his daughter had joined — who he still had not met — to a “cult” or a “Stepford family.”
“If they hear anybody say anything they just lock the doors. They need to speak up!” he said at the time. “They close the door, pull the shades down and put their fingers in their ears so they don’t have to hear.” He went on to say that they had refused to answer any questions he’d had for them, but at that point, it was more than clear that Meghan and Harry had enough of her father speaking about them to the press. In fact, according to the BBC, texts leaked in 2020 that Meghan and Harry had sent to him in May 2018, advising him against continuing his media parade.
“Tom, Harry again! Really need to speak to u. U do not need to apologize, we understand the circumstances but ‘going public’ will only make the situation worse,” one of the texts from Harry said. “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. So please call me so I can explain. Meg and I are not angry, we just need to speak to u. Thanks.”
Meghan Markle's nephew speaks out
Though most of Meghan Markle’s family in the US has been vocal about their thoughts on the former actress, her nephew, Tyler Dooley (the son of her half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr.), told The Sun in 2018 that he believed that his father and his aunt, Samantha Grant, had “sold Meghan out” in their attempts — and, in the process, they were taking his grandfather, Thomas Markle, down with them.
Dooley, who viewed his family members as “embarrassing,” also called Meghan a “hard-worker,” and shared what his perception of her relationship with her father had been — something vastly different than what had been portrayed in the press. “He was a very good parent. Whether that contradicts reports that are out I don’t care, because I can tell you on record he is a very kind, caring, loving person who adores Meghan,” Dooley said. “I would stand by that every day of the week.”
Thomas Markle's reaction to Archie Harrison's birth
In May 2019 — just one year after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had tied the knot — their first child, Archie Harrison, was born, and Thomas Markle saw this as another opportunity to speak publicly about his daughter and her family, this time taking on a bit more positive tone.
“I am proud that my new grandson is born into the British royal family and I am sure that he will grow up to serve the crown and the people of Britain with grace, dignity and honor,” he told The Sun at the time. “God bless the child and I wish him health and happiness, and my congratulations to my lovely daughter Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry — and God save the Queen.”
At the same time, Meghan’s brother, Thomas Jr., also issued a statement to the outlet about Archie’s birth, saying, “Hopefully this baby will help mend the family rift — we’d all love to meet the baby and become a part of his life — especially my dad. I’m hoping that becoming a mother will open up her eyes and shed light on what family means.”
Samantha Grant also reacted to Archie Harrison's birth
When Archie Harrison was born, Meghan Markle’s estranged half-sister also chose to speak out, saying that she hoped a new child joining her family would help bring their fractured family back together, even after everything that had happened — and even though Markle hadn’t seen anyone in her family since before she had gotten married, let alone since she’d been pregnant.
Despite the fact that there had been no evidence to show that Markle and Grant had been in touch in years (and that much of what Grant has shared of their relationship publicly has been negative), Grant told Daily Mail that she believed Archie would be “an exceptional man” someday and that she would “really like to see everyone reach out.”
“We’ve extended the olive branch and now it is Meghan’s turn,” she said. As far as these good wishes go, Meghan and Prince Harry seem to have ignored them.
Thomas Markle wanted to apologize to the royals
The news of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s exit fueled a brand new round of backlash from her family members, including dad Thomas Markle, who told Channel Five that he was told not to apologize to Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royals for being unable to make it to Meghan and Harry’s wedding. At that time, he hadn’t seen Meghan or Harry in the two years they’d been married. “The last time they might see me is being lowered into the ground,” he said. “I don’t think at this point they’re thrilled to see me or want to talk to me.”
Much like his other attempts to reach out to Markle and Harry via the press, the Sussexes didn’t respond to this interview, either — though Daily Mail did leak a letter that Meghan had written to her father in August 2018 in response to his many interviews.
“If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop,” she wrote in the letter. “Please allow us to live our lives in peace. Please stop lying, please stop creating so much pain, please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband.”
Thomas Markle accused Prince Harry of being rude
In the weeks leading up to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal wedding, Thomas Markle appeared in paparazzi photos that he later admitted to Daily Mail were staged to cast a more positive light on him before the big day, despite the fact that Harry had warned him against engaging with the press.
Later, in a 2020 Channel 5 interview, he revealed that Harry told him that if he had taken a better path, maybe he and his daughter’s relationship would be in a better place.
“To me, that was a very rude thing to say, especially when he knew I was lying in a hospital bed,” Thomas said. “At that point, I said to him, ‘It’s too bad I didn’t die because you guys could pretend that you’re sad,’ and then I hung up on them. I was done. That may have caused everything, I don’t know. But I’ve not heard from them or spoken to them since.”
Samantha Grant said Meghan Markle will never find happiness
Samantha Grant, Meghan Markle’s half-sister, has always been particularly forthcoming about her sister, and that includes everything she had to say in a piece she wrote for The Sun in January 2020 — not long after Prince Harry and Meghan announced that they’d be stepping back from the royal family. In her essay, Grant accused Meghan of “[ripping] through the royal family like a tornado.”
Not only did Grant say she was concerned for the future of Meghan’s son, who was now separated from the rest of the royal family, including his cousins, but she also called for “sincerity and dignity” from her sister, who she urged to apologize to the royals.
“I am worried that Meghan and Harry will never find true happiness. They could not find contentment with the Royal Family, will they be able to find it away from them?” Grant wrote at the time. “Maybe they will meet up with counselors who can help them to heal the wounds.”
Thomas Markle's opinion on Megxit
Shortly after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s exit went public, they found out that they wouldn’t be able to use the brand Sussex Royal going forward, and fans had mixed opinions about it after the couple shared a statement on the decision on their website.
“While there is not any jurisdiction by The Monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word ‘Royal’ overseas, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use ‘Sussex Royal’ or any iteration of the word ‘Royal’ in any territory,” the statement said. The same week, Thomas Markle also shared his opinion on the matter with TMZ, and he wasn’t impressed with his daughter’s behavior, to say the least.
“I’m very upset with Meghan and Harry right now,” he said. “I don’t think they have a right to use the word ‘Royal.’ I don’t think they have a right to speak to the queen the way they’ve spoken to her. I think it’s an insult to the queen and to the British people. My daughter dumped me one day before she got married, she dumped my family, she’s dumped Doria [Ragland]’s family, she’s dumped every family, and now she’s dumping the British family.”
Samantha Grant called Meghan Markle inconsiderate
Much like her father, Samantha Grant also took to the press to share her feelings on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s exit, telling Inside Edition that her sister was being inconsiderate of everyone involved in her decision — and that she was shirking the royal duty she’d signed on to take when she married into the family.
“They stepped into the spotlight knowing what the duties were, knowing what the media would be like for them, and if she wanted to be so private, she wouldn’t have sat at Wimbledon with 40 empty seats around her,” Grant said. “Clearly, she knows that she’s engaging in attention-getting behaviors.”
Grant went on to say that she didn’t have much hope that Markle being back in the United States would lead to them repairing their relationship as sisters, adding that Markle “wasn’t willing to extend” the “olive branch” back that Grant felt she had offered to her by speaking to her through the media.
Samantha Grant thinks the royals will like her tell-all book
Samantha Grant’s February 2021 book, The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, tells the story of what it was like to grow up with Meghan Markle as her sister, including what it’s like to be put in the spotlight as Markle married into one of the most famous families in the world.
In January 2021, Grant told The Sun that she felt like the royal family would actually like her book and that it shouldn’t be “uncomfortable” for them — though that might not end up being the case for Markle herself.
“I hope they find it warm, funny, honest and heartfelt. I wrote it respectfully knowing they would see it and not concerned there is anything they will be unhappy about,” Grant said, adding, “People with nothing to hide have nothing to fear. The truth is the truth. One’s comfort level is wherever the truth is a priority or not for the individual.”
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