British Royal Family

Duchess Meghan defends her five friends from being exposed with a stirring statement as her legal battle continues

The British royal is speaking out.

By Jess Pullar
Duchess Meghan has defended her five friends who've also become embroiled in her legal battle against the Mail on Sunday.
The royal is currently suing Associated Newspapers, who publish Mail Online and Mail on Sunday, over specific articles they published about her, including one revealing a personal letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in 2018.
In an incredibly rare move, Meghan shared a statement in response to the threat of the Mail publishing the names of five of Meghan's friends who later came forward anonymously to PEOPLE in defence of their royal friend.
Providing a witness statement that's since been revealed, Meghan explains: "Associated Newspapers, the owner of The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, is threatening to publish the names of five women - five private citizens - who made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a US media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behaviour of Britain's tabloid media."
She continued: "These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial."
Meghan shared an incredibly rare statement in defence of her friends. (Getty)
The Duchess also explained how the publisher "acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability".
She claimed this was "to create a circus and distract from the point of this case - that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter".
The Duchess claimed the publisher was "attempting to evade accountability". (Getty)
"Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy," Meghan continued.
"Both the Mail on Sunday and the court system have their names on a confidential schedule, but for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing."
Ending the statement, Meghan had one simple request: "I respectfully ask the court to treat this legal matter with the sensitivity it deserves, and to prevent the publisher of the Mail on Sunday from breaking precedent and abusing the legal process by identifying these anonymous individuals - a privilege that these newspapers in fact rely upon to protect their own unnamed sources."
WATCH: Meghan Markle admits she's "not okay" amid media scrutiny:
In response to Meghan's statement, a Mail on Sunday spokesperson also came forward, stating: "To set the record straight, The Mail on Sunday had absolutely no intention of publishing the identities of the five friends this weekend."
They continued: "But their evidence is at the heart of the case and we see no reason why their identities should be kept secret. That is why we told the Duchess's lawyers last week that the question of their confidentiality should be properly considered by the court."
New evidence was released earlier this month as the court battle continues, with evidence from Meghan stating she felt "tremendous emotional distress and damage to her mental health".
"As her friends had never seen her in this state before, they were rightly concerned for her welfare, specifically as she was pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself."
It also delved into her feelings while she was pregnant and being constantly scrutinised, stating that she felt "unprotected by the Institution".
The court case continues.

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