Background

Piers Morgan’s one-sided TV feud with Meghan Markle

A letter from Meghan may mean the end of more than two years of relentless negative commentary that went unanswered

Piers Morgen and his war with Meghan Markle seems like the struggle of a rejected lover

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MEDIA PRESS GROUP

After Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry aired in the U.S. on Sunday night, Piers Morgan used his early-morning block of ITV’s Good Morning Britain to go on a tirade, which was met with quite a bit of resistance online. Nevertheless, the presenter was characteristically defiant, repeating his claims on Twitter.

“Lots of people on here want me fired for expressing my opinion on the Pinocchio Princess,” he wrote.

“If you want to join them, there are various petitions still doing the rounds from the last few times you’ve all tried, and failed, to have me fired for saying what I think.”

On Tuesday morning’s edition of the program, after the interview had aired in the U.K., Morgan was back at it again, and when a colleague, weatherman Alex Beresford, criticized his comments, he stormed off the set.

Hours later, ITV announced that Morgan was leaving the show, where he had been an anchor since 2015, and the British media watchdog Ofcom announced that it had received more than 41,000 public complaints about Morgan’s comments.

On Wednesday morning, royal reporter and biographer Omid Scobie tweeted Meghan herself had written to the head of ITV, and that the letter may have played a role in Morgan’s departure:

“I’m told that the letter was written by the duchess for one reason only,” Scobie added, “to raise and share concern over the serious impact that Morgan’s comments could have on anyone struggling with their mental health or thinking about seeking help.”

It’s a fitting end to a five-year saga that saw Morgan go from Markle supporter to committed foe.

When Meghan and Harry’s relationship first went public in the fall of 2016, Morgan was one of the first people in the British media to have a sense of who she was.

“My take on her was she’s very beautiful, she’s very intelligent, she’s 35, she’s been divorced, her dad’s Black, her mum’s white, and she had some problems with that growing up,” he said on GMB, perhaps confusing Meghan with her Suits character, Rachel Zane, whose father was played by Wendell Pierce.

Meghan’s mother is Black and her father is white.

“I was really impressed. I thought she was a very nice woman, very suited to Harry and different.” It wasn’t until a year later, after Harry and Meghan announced their engagement, that Morgan shared his direct messages with Meghan, when the two arranged to meet at his favored pub.

In Finding Freedom, the biography Scobie coauthored with American journalist Carolyn Durand, some of the context behind that meeting was revealed.

In June 2016, Meghan stopped in London after a vacation on the Greek isle of Hydra in order to take a few meetings, fulfill a brand ambassador gig for Ralph Lauren, and attend Wimbledon. On June 30, she met Morgan at the Scarsdale pub in Kensington where she had a dirty martini and they talked politics.

The very next day, according to Scobie and Durant, she went to a private booth at the Soho House for a blind date with Prince Harry, which had been arranged by her friends Misha Nonoo and Markus Anderson.

By the time Meghan and Harry announced their engagement in November 2017, the fledgling friendship between Morgan and the soon-to-be duchess had already faltered.

“I didn’t hear from Meghan again after her royal romance erupted into the public gaze, which is perfectly understandable under the circumstances,” Morgan said in his column for the Daily Mail.

“All will be forgiven though if I get an invite to the wedding of the year.” At the time, he approved of the match; the column’s headline was “Hearty congratulations, Harry, you picked a real keeper.”

By March 2018, Morgan had admitted on air that the invitation was likely not forthcoming, joking that if it came, he would stand up and object during the ceremony. By the time the wedding actually rolled around, his criticism had become more intense, but still sympathetic.

“If you thought being a royal girlfriend was difficult, just wait until you see how hard it is being a royal wife,” he wrote. “If you now start lecturing us all on equality, while your servants fluff your gold monogrammed pillows and your chauffeur warms up the fleet of vintage Rolls Royces, that well of goodwill may dry up.”

He did, however, praise Harry and Prince William for their mental health activism.

In December 2018, Morgan had his second interview with Meghan’s estranged father, Thomas Markle, and soon became increasingly explicit in his criticisms of the new royal. In the Mail, he wrote she had a habit of “ghosting” people when they no longer serve her purpose and later he tweeted that the elder Markle was “left to handle the world’s media on his own when Meghan met her Prince, cocked it up, and has now lost his daughter to the royals.”

When reports emerged that Kate Middleton and Meghan had argued in the run-up to the latter’s wedding, he said that it reflected the qualities he observed during their friendship, which he then claimed lasted an entire year and a half.

“And given my unfortunate experience with her, I’m afraid I’m not remotely surprised,” he said in the Daily Mail. “But she’s now finding out the hard way that if you try to ‘play’ the royals and the royal household like she played people like me, you’ll come up against a system you can never beat.”

From that moment on, blasting Meghan for her supposed transgressions was a constant feature of his appearances on GMB.

In February 2019, when the duchess wrote messages on bananas that were distributed as an emergency food source for sex workers, he shouted that she was “patronizing.” By March of that year, the length of their friendship had actually lasted for two years in Morgan’s estimation, and they would “message each other a lot, email a lot,” but she dropped him after meeting Harry.

That June, he attacked her for “snubbing” Donald Trump during his state visit even though she was on her maternity leave.

He later attacked the September 2019 issue of British Vogue she edited and her admission that she was struggling during an ITV documentary filmed in southern Africa.

For nearly every major negative headline associated with Meghan, you can find a corresponding tweet, column, or clip of Morgan’s disdain.

Until her Monday letter, Meghan never responded to any of Morgan’s comments, perhaps saving her energy. Not that he appears to be cowed.

On Wednesday he tweeted that he hadn’t changed his mind about Meghan’s claims about her mental health. For now at least, U.K. morning TV viewers won’t be hearing about it on the telly.

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