Meghan Markle has thanked a cross-party group of female MPs who wrote to express solidarity over “often distasteful and misleading” national newspaper stories about her.
MP for Halifax Holly Lynch said she was “surprised” to receive the phone call yesterday morning after co-ordinating an open letter to the duchess.
It was signed by 72 MPs and criticised what they described as “colonial undertones” in many stories about the former actress.
In their letter, the MPs – who represent a third of the women currently sitting in the House of Commons – said they were writing “to express our solidarity with you in taking a stand against the often distasteful and misleading nature of the stories printed in a number of our national newspapers concerning you, your character and your family”.
They went on: “On occasions, stories and headlines have represented an invasion of your privacy and have sought to cast aspersions about your character, without any good reason as far as we can see.”
Lynch told ITV News yesterday she had received a call from Buckingham Palace at her Westminster office asking if she was available to speak to Markle.
“She was calling to thank myself and other women MPs for standing with her and sending the open letter to say we as women in public office absolutely understand what she is going through, although in very different public roles,” Lynch said.
“We stand with her in solidarity to say that we shouldn’t be tearing down women in public life through the press or otherwise. She was pleased to have seen that letter.”
Speaking to Sky News, Lynch added that Markle had called “to just say that she really appreciated the gesture and that actually working together as women was how we were going to change things” and that she had asked the MP to pass on her thanks to the other women who signed the letter.
Former Mirror editor Piers Morgan shared concerns after the publication of the letter that it “looks like a very dangerous attempt to suppress freedom of the press”.
The letter had said: “…we expect the national media to have the integrity to know when a story is in the national interest, and when it is seeking to tear a woman down for no apparent reason…
“We will use the means at our disposal to ensure that our press accept your right to privacy and show respect, and that their stories reflect the truth.”
Lynch doubled down on this suggestion when speaking to ITV News, saying: “We were quite happy to stand with [Markle] in recognising that what she is going through has on occasion had xenophobic undertones.
“We’re not happy about that at all.
“We stand with her in challenging that and we will look to do everything we can at this end if some of our national press do not have a healthier, shall we say, interest in her life.”
Lynch also said stories which are “incredibly sexist” or have “colonial, racist undertones” were “not acceptable in this day and age”.
The MPs’ support comes after the Duchess of Sussex filed a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday over its publication of a private letter to her estranged father. The paper has said it will “vigorously” defend the case.
At the same time, Prince Harry issued an emotional statement attacking “bullying” tabloid behaviour and describing his wife as “one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press”.
Prince Harry is also separately suing the Sun and the Mirror news groups over allegations of phone hacking dating back to the early 2000s.