Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will have to give testimony under oath as part of a defamation case brought by Samantha Markle, the Duchess’s half-sister, a judge has ruled.
The couple filed a motion to block their depositions in the case, in which Samantha is seeking damages over what she claims are “malicious lies” told about her during Harry and Meghan’s 2020 televised Oprah Winfrey interview and the 2020 biography Finding Freedom.
Presiding district court judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell dismissed the motion Tuesday, ruling that Meghan “does not show that unusual circumstances justify the requested stay, or that prejudice or an undue burden will result if the Court does not impose a stay,” Britain’s PA Media news agency reported, as cited by CNN.
“Defendant Markle does not satisfy the high standard required to stay discovery pending the resolution of a dispositive motion.”
A deposition is a formal testimony from a witness or someone involved in a case, given outside of court but under oath.
Samantha, 58, is suing Meghan for US$75,000, claiming defamation in the interview when her younger half-sister said she grew up as “an only child.”
The “false and malicious lies,” the filing says, subjected Samantha “to humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale,” and spread “lies worldwide” about their father, Thomas Markle.
Samantha additionally accuses Meghan of misrepresenting their sibling relationship, alleging that Meghan gave the impression that they were “virtual strangers” growing up and that Samantha had “no relationship whatsoever with her sister Meghan.”
The claim contends that Meghan had “frequent and regular contact with her sister Samantha throughout her childhood,” reports BBC, and that Meghan constructed a “false rags to royalty narrative” that was damaging to both Thomas and Samantha.
She also denies Meghan’s claim that Samantha changed her last name to Markle after news first broke in 2018 that Meghan and Prince Harry were dating.
Peter Ticktin, a lawyer for Samantha, told The Independent on Tuesday in a statement that, “as to whether we will need Harry’s deposition, that decision is yet to be made.”
“Obviously, if the Duchess should want to call him, we would need to take his deposition,” he said. “Otherwise, we will probably still want to inquire as to some issues.”
The outlet reports that a mediator has also been appointed in the case with the hope of resolving the lawsuit without a trial.
The planned depositions come following the Sussexes’ Netflix series, Harry & Meghan, and the publication of Harry’s revealing memoir Spare last month.
In the documentary series, the former Suits actor claimed she hadn’t seen Samantha “for over a decade” and had little to no relationship with her.
“I don’t know your middle name. I don’t know your birthday,” Meghan told the cameras. “You’re telling these people you raised me, and you coined me ‘Princess Pushy?’ I hadn’t had a fallout with her. We didn’t have a closeness to be able to have that. And I wanted a sister!”