Meghan Markle and Prince Harry did not bring a single new, publicized lawsuit in 2021—despite several disputes with the media.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex previously sued six times between September 2019 and November 2020 but Newsweek has been able to find no record of any new legal action on either side of the Atlantic since then, including in both Federal and County courts in California.
Representatives of Meghan and Harry were approached in advance of publication.
This comes after a period in which Page Six of the New York Post ran pictures of Meghan picking son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor up from his first day of pre-school.
They were also involved in a transatlantic briefing war over a BBC News article suggesting they did not ask Queen Elizabeth II’s permission to name their daughter Lilibet.
A news story in The Times detailing allegations Meghan mistreated staff carried a notice suggesting the newspaper received a legal complaint but the High Court in London has no record of a lawsuit filed.
The article, posted in June 2021, carried a notice which read: “This article is the subject of a legal complaint by The Duchess of Sussex.”
Meghan’s friends also strongly rebutted allegations she bullied her staff while at Kensington Palace, first reported in The Times days before their Oprah Winfrey interview was broadcast on March 7, 2021.
Their lawyer Jenny Afia, of law firm Schillings, told BBC documentary The Princes and the Press: “The overall allegation was that the Duchess of Sussex was guilty of bullying. Absolutely not. I think the first thing is to be really clear about what bullying is.
“What bullying actually means is improperly using power, repeatedly and deliberately to hurt someone physically or emotionally.
“The Duchess of Sussex has absolutely denied doing that. That said, she wouldn’t want to negate anyone’s personal experiences.”
Their legal team at Schillings was busy during the year fighting the two-year old lawsuit the duchess brought against The Mail on Sunday.
Meghan finally won the case in December when the Court of Appeal ruled in her favor and the newspaper accepted defeat. The paper is expected to pay significant damages for copyright and £1 ($1.36) in nominal damages for privacy.
However, not before Meghan’s private messages were put into the public domain by her former press secretary Jason Knauf.
They forced her into a public apology for misleading the court over cooperation with the authors of a flattering biography, Finding Freedom.
It is not the only case where reputations have come under pressure during lawsuits.
Prince Harry was accused by a judge of requesting “manifestly disproportionate” legal costs of £35,000 ($48,000) for a statement by his lawyer in court during his own successful case against The Mail on Sunday.
The sour note came after the duke sued for libel and won a settlement over the newspaper’s report he had not been in contact with the Royal Marines since quitting as a working royal, which it accepted was untrue.
There are also two lawsuits in which the prince has accused two of Britain’s newspaper groups of phone hacking, News UK, the publisher of The Sun, and MGN, publisher of the Daily Mirror and its sister titles.
The Guardian recently reported the possibility the two cases would go to trial in 2022 but there is little sign the cases are progressing on the publicly accessible court system.
The file in the MGN case does not appear to have been updated since June 2020 and the News UK one since July 2021.
Both lawsuits were launched at the end of September 2019 but there are no publicly available documents on the MGN case and just four court filings on the News UK one.
By contrast, Meghan’s lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday, over the same time period, has been won, appealed and won again.
There have been numerous court hearings, 53 court filings and in November Meghan expressed frustration at how long the case was taking.
She told The New York Times Dealbook online conference: “In terms of the appeal, I won the case. And this issue, frankly, has been going on since I had no children at all. I now have two children. It’s an arduous process, but again, it’s just me standing up for what’s right, which I think is important across the board.”
The other two cases the couple were involved in were against paparazzi picture agencies.
The couple won an apology from U.S.-based X17 after a photographer used a drone to photograph Archie playing with his grandmother, Doria Ragland, in the private grounds of the L.A. mansion where the young family was living at the time.
Splash News filed for bankruptcy in part because of legal action Meghan filed at the High Court in London over photographs taken of her with Archie in a public park, on Vancouver Island, while they were living in Canada.