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Meghan Markle’s Half-Sister Sues Her Over Allegedly ‘False and Malicious’ Tale of Rise from ‘Rags-to-Royalty’ in Oprah Interview

2021 Salute To Freedom Gala

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on Nov. 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Meghan Markle’s half-sister sued her sibling for defamation, claiming that the Duchess of Sussex pushed a “false ‘rags-to-royalty'” story in her bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview, a bestselling book, and other high-profile platforms around the world.

When Oprah’s primetime special aired on CBS nearly a year ago on March 7, 2021, Meghan Markle described herself as an “only child” and claimed that she only saw her half-sister Samantha Markle “at least 18, 19 years ago and before that, 10 years before that,” according to the lawsuit.

Samantha Markle calls those statements “false and malicious,” also disputing the Duchess’s claim that she “only changed her surname to Markle in her early 50s when Meghan started dating Prince Harry.”

“The defamatory implication is that plaintiff had no relationship whatsoever with her sister Meghan, they were virtual strangers and that plaintiff has created a lucrative career selling false stories to tabloids and television program s when she knows nothing about defendant’s childhood,” the 15-page complaint, filed on Thursday in a federal court in Tampa, Florida, alleges.

The royal is related to her half-sister by way of her estranged father Thomas Markle, and Meghan Markle details their fractured relationship in her biography “Finding Freedom,” written by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand. One of the chapters, titled “A Problem Like Samantha,” begins: “The trouble began with Samantha Markle,” according to the lawsuit.

Meghan Markle previously denied cooperating with that book’s authors, but her half-sister says that her litigation against multiple U.K. news outlets undermined that claim. British tabloid Mail on Sunday and other news outlets published the Duchess’s letter to her estranged father, which a U.K. judge ruled violated her right to privacy. One of the publishers, Associated Newspapers, is trying to overturn that decision in on appeal.

During those proceedings, Harry and Meghan’s communications secretary Jason Knauf said in a witness statement that the book was “discussed directly with the duchess multiple times in person and over email,” according to the Associated Press. Meghan Markle subsequently apologized for misleading the court.

“Defendant assumed that Mr. Knauf was her loyal servant and that her scheme to defame and denigrate Plaintiff and her family would remain a secret,” the lawsuit states. However, Mr. Knauf’s disclosure and dissemination of Defe ndant’s email proved she had blatantly lied in the high-profile British lawsuit that Defendant filed against a prominent newspaper.”

Samantha Markle also lashed out at her sister’s open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which she claims pushed a false story of her upbringing to advocate for paid family leave for all.

“I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler—it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember)—but what I do remember was the feeling: I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky,” the Dutchess wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 20, 2021.

According to the lawsuit, this was a “fairy tale life story.”

“In truth, Defendant’s Father, Thomas Markle, was a highly successful television lighting director for 45 years on various hit television shows, including General Hospital, Married with Children and Facts of Life,” the complaint states, saying that the father was awarded with two Emmy Awards and 13 Emmy nominations for excellence in lighting design.

His income placed the Dutchess’s family in the top 10 percent of U.S. household incomes, the lawsuit claims.

Samantha Markle alleges two counts of defamation and defamation by implication.

Read the lawsuit below:

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."