Meghan was advised to write letter to father by two senior royals

Two senior members of the royal family advised the Duchess of Sussex to write a letter to her father which is now at the centre of a legal battle, a new court document has revealed.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle in August 2018.

The document, submitted to the High Court by the duchess’s legal team, told how Meghan turned to the senior royals following her distress over the media coverage about her father and because of her position “as the newest member of the royal family who wanted to follow protocol”.

It added: “In accordance with the advice that she had received from the two members of the royal family, the claimant decided (in about the first week of August 2018) to write a private letter to her father in an attempt to get him to stop talking to the press.”

The document did not name the members of the royal family who advised Meghan.

But the senior royals at the head of the family are the Queen, the heir to the throne the Prince of Wales and second in line the Duke of Cambridge.

Meghan’s legal team insisted the letter was not a media strategy but an attempt to protect the duchess and her family including the royals “from further media intrusion and embarrassment to the institution”.

The document also showed that the former Suits star shared a draft of the letter with her husband Harry and Kensington Palace’s then communications secretary Jason Knauf as “this was a deeply painful process that they lived through with her”.

It said Mr Knauf provided “feedback on the draft but no actual wording”.

Documents lodged with the High Court by ANL this week claim Mr Knauf “and/or” the Kensington Palace communications team “contributed” to a draft of the letter.

The amended reply from Meghan’s legal team stated the duchess shared a draft – of the notes she spent many hours writing on her iPhone over several weeks – with Harry and Mr Knauf.

The document said: “She shared a draft of that draft with her husband and Mr Knauf for support, as this was a deeply painful process that they lived through with her.”

It added: “In the course of a discussion between them, Mr Knauf provided feedback on that draft but no actual wording, as this was a personal letter from daughter to father.

“The comments Mr Knauf provided were in the form of ‘general ideas’ as opposed to actual wording.”

The document said Jason Knauf was required by “palace protocol” to inform more senior aides in the royal households that Meghan was going to write to her father.

It said they had “to be kept apprised of any public-facing issues (the media spectacle surrounding Mr Markle being one such issue)”.

The document said: “As is clear from the above, the genesis of, reasons for and intended use of the letter was the complete opposite of a ‘media strategy’.

“It was a private letter written and sent by the claimant to her father, on the advice of senior members of the royal family, in an attempt to protect her family, including her new family members, from further media intrusion and embarrassment to the institution.”

Mr Knauf is now the chief executive of the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation.

At a High Court hearing last month, Mr Justice Warby, who is overseeing the case, agreed to Meghan’s application to adjourn the trial – which was due to start on January 11 next year – until next autumn after hearing from lawyers for both parties in a private hearing.

In a heavily-redacted ruling published on Wednesday, the judge gave further information on agreeing to the adjournment, but did not give any details of the duchess’s reasons for applying for the delay, saying it was “unnecessary, and undesirable” to do so.