Meghan Markle lodged a formal complaint with British broadcaster ITV after TV presenter Piers Morgan questioned whether she was telling the truth about her mental health struggles.
Morgan has said he stands by his criticism of the Duchess of Sussex, who told Oprah Winfrey in a bombshell interview broadcast this week that life in the royal family had driven her to thoughts of suicide.
On Thursday morning (Australian time), CNN revealed that Meghan personally contacted ITV to complain about Morgan’s comments.
It is understood to be the first time she has done anything similar.
Sources close to Meghan say the duchess complained to the network not because she was concerned about how Morgan’s comments might prevent others from coming forward with their own mental health struggles.
Following Meghan’s interview with Oprah, Morgan said on Good Morning Britain, among a torrent of other criticisms, that he did not believe a word she had said.
“I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report.”
In a tweet, he called her “Princess Pinocchio”.
His comments on Good Morning Britain cast doubt on whether Meghan had suicidal thoughts after she said the royal family had rejected her pleas for mental health support.
Monday’s program attracted more than 41,000 complaints to Britain’s media regulator, which announced an investigation under its “harm and offence” rules.
Despite this, Morgan said he still did not believe the duchess, including her admission that she had suicidal thoughts while pregnant with son Archie.
“I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t [believe her],” Mr Morgan tweeted on Wednesday.
“If you did, OK. Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on. Thanks for all the love, and hate. I’m off to spend more time with my opinions.”
He added a photo of Winston Churchill with a quote about free speech.
Morgan announced his resignation from Good Morning Britain after storming off the set when criticised by weatherman Alex Beresford for his tirade about Meghan.
“I understand that you don’t like Meghan Markle, you’ve made it so clear a number of times on this program,” Beresford said.
“Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don’t think she has, but yet you continue to trash her.”
Mr Morgan then walked off saying “OK, I’m done with this”.
He is not the only high-profile person to bee involved in a heated TV spat following Meghan and husband Prince Harry’s emotional tell-all with Winfrey.
Ian Murray, head of Britain’s Society of Editors, refused to answer BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire when she asked him repeatedly if certain past headlines about the Duchess of Sussex were racist.
Derbyshire read several past tabloid headlines, one of which asked if Harry was about to “marry into gangster royalty”.
“I’m not going to defend one headline,” Mr Murray said.
“If you keep on looking you will find that needle in the haystack.”
The Society of Editors also hit out at Prince Harry’s claim that the British tabloid press is “bigoted”.
“The UK media has a proud record of calling out racism and also being at the forefront of campaigns to support mental health awareness, another of the issues raised by the couple,” Mr Murray said in a statement.
Journalist Charlene White, who was due to host the Society of Editors’ National Press Awards, has stepped back from the role as a result.
“Perhaps it’s best for you to look elsewhere for a host for your awards this year,” the Huffington Post quoted her as telling Mr Murray.
“Perhaps someone whose views align with yours: that the UK press is the one institution in the entire country who has a perfect record on race.”
The Society of Editors has since backed down from its initial statement.
“The Society of Editors has a proud history of campaigning for freedom of speech and the vital work that journalists do in a democracy to hold power to account,” it said.
“Our statement on Meghan and Harry was made in that spirit but did not reflect what we all know: that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion.
“We will reflect on the reaction our statement prompted and work towards being part of the solution.”
- For support with mental health issues, contact Life Line on 131 114 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636