The Slatest

The Weird History Behind Piers Morgan’s Meltdown Over Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle on the left smiling and Piers Morgan on the right looking at the camera.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and Piers Morgan. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty Images and Ramin Talaie/Getty Images.

Piers Morgan used to be a lot of things: a British tabloid editor, a Daily Mail Online columnist, a Good Morning Britain ITV host, and, apparently, Meghan Markle’s friend.

In a globe-rocking interview Sunday evening, the Duchess of Sussex and her husband, Prince Harry, revealed to Oprah—and 17 million viewers—how ceasless cruel press, oppressive palace life, and royal racism drove Meghan to contemplate suicide. Buckingham Palace responded with a statement expressing familial sadness. Morgan responded with a slew of vitriol. “I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report,” he said of Meghan on his show the Monday after. His show that morning became the “most complained about show on British television in nearly 15 years,” Deadline reported. More than 41,000 people submitted written complaints about Morgan’s behavior to the broadcaster ITV, including one formal complaint by Meghan herself. Ofcom, a media watchdog company in the U.K., is now investigating Morgan.

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Tuesday, Morgan returned briefly to host his ITV show, before storming off midprogram. His co-presenter, Alex Beresford, defended Meghan and Harry and called out Morgan’s treatment of them. “I understand that you’ve got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle—or had one—and she cut you off,” 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.” Morgan stood up and walked out. “I’m done with this,” he said, interrupting Beresford. Shortly after, Morgan’s leave from ITV became official, and he took to Twitter to defend his use of free speech.

But why in the world does tabloid lord Morgan seem so personally affected—and offended—by Meghan? We sift through the muddled timeline of Morgan and Meghan’s relationship—from friendship to hateship—so you don’t have to.

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Fall 2015: Morgan, a Suits fan, follows Meghan on Twitter. She responds with a direct message, opening up a line of communication between the two that continued until their meeting a year later. She sends him prereleased Suits episodes that they discuss over DM. A friendship is born.

June 29, 2016: Meghan is in London to see Serena Williams play tennis at Wimbledon. She messages Morgan: “Would love to say Hi!” They meet for pre-dinner drinks at his local pub. Morgan’s first impression, he writes in his Daily Mail column: “She looked every inch the Hollywood superstar—very slim, very leggy, very elegant and impossibly glamorous.” Their conversation spanned Rwanda, race, and gun violence. At the end of the night, Morgan proclaims, “I really, really liked her.” He wrote, “When we drank in my pub, I found her to be a very smart, focused, thoughtful, feisty and confident woman.” This appears to be the first and only time they met in person.

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She left their drinks to go to a private, exclusive dinner party at 5 Hertford St. Morgan pieced together, through some tabloid digging, that the very dinner party she left him for was where she met Prince Harry.

Nov. 12, 2016: Morgan calls Meghan “delightful” on Twitter.

Dec. 15, 2016: Morgan writes a Daily Mail column on why Meghan would be a great bride. He praises her humanitarian spirit, which he will later criticize, and says that her being a divorcée and multiracial will be assets to the royal family. The column ends with him encouraging Harry to pop the question ASAP.

Nov. 27, 2017: The royal family announces the engagement of Harry and Meghan. Morgan congratulates the couple, and particularly Meghan, tweeting: “My friend will make the perfect modern bride.” He continues to hint that he hopes to score a wedding invite.

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But the first sense of building resentment toward Meghan emerges in his engagement day column. His headline reads, “Hearty congratulations, Harry, you picked a real keeper (even if your romance did destroy my beautiful friendship with the amazing Meghan Markle).” In the article, he revisits their first meeting—and hits on the fact that they haven’t communicated since.

Late 2017/early 2018: The ghosting narrative pervades through columnstweets, and talk show interviews. Morgan ends one interview saying, “She owes me an invitation to the wedding to make up for cutting me dead.”

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May 14–19, 2018: As Markle family drama unfolds in the days before the wedding, Morgan tweets his sympathy for Meghan, whose father won’t attend. He then writes a column cutting into Meghan’s dad, who sold photos to a paparazzi photographer, and expressing sadness for Meghan. The day before the wedding, Morgan tweets again that he’s still upset about missing out on the wedding invite.

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May 20, 2018: Morgan loves the royal wedding, which he watched (much to his dismay) from TV, not the chapel.

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June 18, 2018: Morgan begins to turn on Meghan. He invites Meghan’s dad to his ITV morning show and paints a narrative of him as the pitiful victim of Meghan’s cruelty and coldness.

December 2018: Morgan calls Meghan his ex-friend and a social climber. He also keeps writing in defense of Meghan’s dad, calling Meghan out for her apparently abhorrent treatment of him. Fans think this line of attack getting a little obsessive—and a little old.

Jan. 8, 2020: Meghan and Harry announce they will step back from their duties as “senior” royals. Morgan melts down on Twitter.

March 6, 2020: In his column, Morgan compliments a rainy-day photo of Meghan and Harry. Yet the piece quickly takes a negative turn. He writes, “I’ve made no secret of my disdain for many of the Sussexes’ antics since they got married 20 months ago, nor indeed for my former friend Meghan ghosting me the moment she met her Prince.” He lists how Meghan and Harry’s supposed constant “complaining” and attempts to “bully the queen into doing royal things THEIR way” and “PC-crazed wokeness” catapulted them quickly out of the media’s graces.

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Summer through winter 2020: As Finding Freedom, a new book sympathetic to Meghan and Harry, hits the shelves, and the royal duo sign their Netflix deal, Morgan’s barrage of insults continues. He calls them “hypocritical” in one column and “a pair of appallingly bitter, staggeringly self-obsessed, utterly deluded, and woefully tone-deaf laughing stocks” in another (slightly more extreme) one.

March 7, 2021: Meghan does not mention Morgan by name in her interview with Oprah but expresses how press attacks severely affected her mental health.

March 8, 2021: Morgan responds to the Oprah interview with a lack of care and sensitivity. He writes on the Daily Mail, “Never have I watched a more repulsively disingenuous interview. Nor one more horrendously hypocritical or contradictory.” He expresses these same ideas on air during Good Morning Britain.

March 9, 2021: Morgan storms out of Good Morning Britain when called out by his co-presenter for his cruel obsession. He quit the show for good shortly thereafter. Meghan filed an official complaint to ITV against Morgan.

March 10, 2021: Morgan writes on Twitter: “On Monday, I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview. I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t.”

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