The Darkest Secrets Of Meghan Markle's Family

The following article includes mentions of child abuse and domestic abuse allegations, as well as addiction and mental health issues.

Meghan Markle has worn many public faces since she began dating Prince Harry. She was an actor and blogger before she had to step down from those roles to become a literal duchess when the couple married in 2018. She is also a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, and friend to celebrities like Adele, Gabrielle Union, and Priyanka Chopra.

But life in the royal spotlight was not easy for Harry and Meghan. They officially left their royal posts in March 2020 and have been living in the U.S. as plain old commoners who just happen to be famous ever since (via People). But with as many hats as Meghan has worn for the public, there is also one that she doesn't talk about much: She's also the keeper of some dark secrets that have nothing to do with her royal in-laws and everything to do with her own family. 

We're uncovering all the secrets of the Markle family to try and get a better sense of one piece of Meghan Markle's life that she (perhaps understandably) tries to keep hidden from royal onlookers and the press.

Meghan Markle's father staged photos before her wedding

Meghan Markle's relationship with estranged father Thomas Markle came under intense media scrutiny as soon as she and Prince Harry announced their engagement in November 2017. It reached a fever pitch in the days leading up to the wedding in May 2018, when the Daily Mail exposed how Thomas teamed up with Jeff Rayner from the Coleman-Rayner photography agency in Los Angeles to stage photos related to Thomas' wedding preparations. Pictures of the father of the bride lounging at Starbucks, visiting an internet café to research Harry and Meghan, exercising to lose weight, and getting measured to fit into his wedding attire were all staged, the site reported.

David Flores, the 17-year-old pictured measuring Thomas, wasn't a tailor — he was a student working at a nearby party supply store who was recruited to participate, Flores told the Daily Mail. "It was really strange. This big American guy got the measuring tape out of his pocket and he was saying things in English," he said. "The photographer he was with stepped back to the street and started taking pictures."

Thomas later told "Good Morning Britain" that he jumped at the opportunity to stage the pictures in order to "change [his] image," wanting to turn the "negative" perception the public had of him into a positive one. Admitting his mission "went to hell," Thomas said he felt "bad" about his "mistake." The royal family — who had previously issued statements pleading with the paparazzi to leave Thomas alone — was reportedly embarrassed by the incident.

Thomas Markle sold a private letter that Meghan wrote him to the press

After the unnecessary layer of spectacle that her dad, Thomas Markle, added to her royal wedding (which he ultimately didn't attend because of medical issues and embarrassment, TMZ reported) to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle wrote a private letter to her dad pleading with him to stop cooperating with the press. In it, Meghan said she felt "absolutely blindsided" by the "pain" her father was "puppeteered" into creating by the media (via Honey). She said that the lies her father was spreading about her with the help of the media "have broken [her] heart into a million pieces" and claimed that she had only ever wanted to "help" him, whether it be financially, medically, or with the harassment he had claimed to her that he was experiencing, no thanks to the paparazzi.

At the end of her letter, Meghan begged Thomas to "please stop lying, please stop creating so much pain, please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband, and please stop taking the bait from the press." But he did the exact opposite. Thomas sold the letter to the Mail on Sunday, and the site published it for the world to see even more Markle family secrets. 

The duchess later sued Associated Newspapers Limited, owners of the site, for "breach of privacy" and won (via the Daily Mail). Meghan had a "reasonable expectation of privacy," and the site was "fanciful to think otherwise," Justice Warby wrote in his ruling.

Meghan Markle's half-sister spilled tea in a memoir

According to Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister, Samantha Markle, the Duchess of Sussex is allegedly responsible for hiding some family secrets of her own. In her first book, "The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister Part 1," Samantha makes some startling claims about her estranged sibling. 

Meghan is supposedly "demanding" and ungrateful for their father, Thomas Markle's, early financial help, according to Samantha (via Us Weekly). "He was paying for Meg to get a great education, and instead of showing gratitude, she was being belittling and controlling," she wrote. Samantha, who is significantly older than Meghan, said that there was a time when the younger sibling "got whatever she wanted and needed" from Thomas.

Despite the fact that her book paints both Meghan and Prince Harry in a negative light, Samantha told Us Weekly that she didn't decide to write it "to put garbage into the universe" about her sister or her in-laws, saying, "Contrary to troll gossip and aggregate news rumors, my book has never been designed to attack my sister." Um, we are going to take that comment with a grain of salt.

Does Meghan Markle think she's above her family?

Not all members of Meghan Markle's family are willing to go on record with their names when they decide to share potentially damaging secrets about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Meghan and Prince Harry live closer to Meghan's family now that they have decided to live a more private life in the U.S., but an anonymous family member shared with Fox News that their move does not mean that Meghan will be contacting relatives to have playdates with their kids, Archie and Lillibet, any time soon. 

"Yeah, right after I set up a play date with Oprah Winfrey's family, too?" the source responded to the idea sarcastically. "We're clearly in different social classes and we won't ever talk again." The insider also insinuated that Meghan now believes she is better than her family, and that they are not interested in having a relationship with her if it's going to be fake. "You shouldn't have to be someone you're not, or a certain class to be accepted and loved," the source said. "I'm not chasing after someone that doesn't want to talk to me. I have my own family and we couldn't be happier sharing the love that we have." 

Meghan's lack of contact with her family is allegedly "her choice," the family member said. However, they wished Harry and Meghan well as the couple raises their family.

The duchess' niece has accused Samantha Markle of abuse

Meghan Markle isn't the only person in her family who keeps some details of her personal life quiet. Her half-sister, Samantha Markle, is allegedly not an innocent victim, but rather also an alleged abuser, according to her own daughter. In a joint interview with the Daily Mail alongside grandmother Roslyn Markle, Noel Rasmussen (Meghan's niece) said Samantha "should not have been a mother" and claimed she had allegedly "abusive tendencies," saying that when she was a child, Samantha would allegedly spit at her, scratch her, and pull her hair.

Claiming that Samantha would often say, "If it's not bleeding and there's nothing broken there is no abuse," Rasmussen alleged that her mother is guilty of educational neglect for forcing her to stay out of school to work at a flea market. While Samantha would allegedly threaten to abuse Rasmussen if she called her father or did not comply with demands, Rasmussen said that she feared her mother's boyfriend, Mark Phillips, more than Samantha. Rasmussen, who left Samantha's home at 16, claimed she would often call her father to get her out of situations that might have escalated into physical violence if she did not leave. "I didn't feel safe. I didn't feel loved," Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen called the environment she lived in with Samantha "toxic" and claimed that her mother is "vicious" and a "liar." The claims of physical and emotional abuse are substantiated in court documents filed by the State of New Mexico Children, Youth, and Family Services Department (via the Daily Mail).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Samantha Markle's alleged car accident may have never happened

Whatever her intentions may be, Meghan Markle's half-sister, Samantha Markle, certainly appears in the news often. In May 2018, her boyfriend, Mark Phillips, told TMZ that she had allegedly broken her ankle and fractured her knee in a car accident that happened while the couple was fleeing from paparazzi in Florida. Phillips claimed that while trying to ditch cars chasing them, he hit a concrete barrier.

On May 17, one day after TMZ's original report and two days before Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding, the Daily Mail reported that Florida police could find "no evidence" of the alleged events. In fact, Samantha and Phillips could have actually been charged with a "hit and run misdemeanor," which could have resulted in as much as two months in jail or a few lesser charges. At the time, ​​Lt. Kim Montes explained to the Daily Mail, "Even if they hit a stationary property such as a wall under Florida law you are required to report that to law enforcement."

We couldn't find evidence that Samantha and Phillips were charged with anything, but the timing of the alleged accident seemed fishy.

Meghan Markle's ex doesn't have nice things to say about her

One of the many reasons why Prince Harry's engagement to Meghan Markle initially caused a stir is because she is a divorced woman and became the first divorcée to enter the royal family. Meghan was married to film producer and literary manager Trevor Engelson from 2011 to 2013 (via Elle). The Sun reported that the union ultimately ended because Meghan's filming schedule for "Suits" strained their marriage.

It's reasonable to assume that Meghan and Engelson potentially cut ties on relatively good terms, but that's reportedly not the case. A friend of the exes told royal biographer Andrew Morton, who authored 2018's "Meghan: A Hollywood Princess," that Engelson was shocked by Meghan's decision to end the marriage and felt like "he was a piece of something stuck to the bottom of her shoe" (via Express) when she told him she wanted to divorce. Meghan's decision reportedly came "totally out of the blue" and caused friends of the couple to choose sides; many apparently did not pick Meghan. 

In fact, the duchess' ex-bestie, Ninaki Priddy, who was the maid of honor at Meghan's first wedding, ended their friendship because of how Meghan allegedly treated Engelson. "The way she handled it, Trevor definitely had the rug pulled out from under him. He was hurt," Priddy claimed to the Daily Mail.

Samantha Markle is allegedly a victim of domestic violence

There is a lengthy history of alleged abuse in Meghan Markle's family that may explain some of the estrangement between them and the extreme measures some of them have seemingly taken to get attention from the press. As previously mentioned, Meghan's half-sister, Samantha Markle, is an alleged abuser, according to her daughter, Noel Rasmussen (via the Daily Mail) — but she is also an alleged victim of domestic violence. 

In December 2020, the Daily Mail reported that Samantha's partner, Mark Phillips, was arrested on charges of domestic violence after "hitting" her "in the face during a fight." He was taken into the Polk County Jail in Florida and "released the same day pending trial," the website reported. The couple reportedly began arguing because Samantha — who has Multiple Sclerosis — had personal care needs in the middle of the night that Phillips did not want to help her with. He reportedly hit Samantha "on the right side of her face in the ear area." He apparently "fled the scene," but authorities later confirmed Phillips was "the primary aggressor."

While Phillips' court date was set for mid-January 2021, per The Daily Beast, it has remained unclear where his case stands, at the time of this writing.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Meghan Markle's half-brother has made some shocking allegations against their father

Meghan Markle's father, Thomas Markle Sr., and her half-sister, Samantha Markle, are in the public eye often. But her half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr., did make some startling allegations of his own against his father in a 2018 interview with InTouch Weekly

Thomas Jr. claimed his father would "snort cocaine" in front of his kids during parties held in the '80s, but overall was "very distant" and absent often due to his busy work schedule, and seemed "secretive," "quiet," and "grumpy" whenever he was at home. He also alleged that Thomas Sr. took several trips to Thailand, allegedly to sleep with sex workers (via InTouch Weekly). Ultimately, Thomas Jr. called his relationship with his father "frustrating" and "non-existent," and also echoed sister Samantha's claims that Thomas Sr. favored Meghan, saying that the older man "didn't really have the time for me and [Samantha] like he did for Meg."

Thomas Sr. has confirmed that he did drugs when Meghan was growing up (via Mirror) to cope with the pressure that comes with working in Hollywood.

Thomas Markle Jr. and his ex-fiancee have both been arrested for domestic violence

Sadly, alleged domestic violence runs in Meghan Markle's family. Her half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr., has been involved with a couple of instances with his former partner. First, in January 2017, when Meghan and Prince Harry were just dating, Thomas Jr. was arrested on domestic violence charges for "allegedly holding a gun to his girlfriend's head," the Daily Mail reported. At the time, his blood-alcohol level was reportedly twice the legal limit. No woman was named in the first report, and the charges were eventually dropped.

In July 2018, Thomas Jr.'s then-fiancée, Darlene Blount, was arrested in their home state of Oregon for allegedly physically abusing him during a fight when the couple was coming home from a bar. Thomas Jr. told the Daily Mail that he believed Blount "intentionally hit [him]" in the eye when getting out of the car, giving him a black eye. It was a misunderstanding, but when Blount got home from her mother's house after the fight, Thomas Jr. had already called the police.

"Yeah, I am worried [about what the royal family will think] but it is what it is and there's nothing I can do to change it," Blount told the outlet. However, Thomas Jr. didn't seem too concerned about Meghan's thoughts, because, as he put it, "She doesn't live in the real world with real-life situations like everyone else." Blount was later found not guilty of her two assault charges, per The Sun.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Meghan Markle's half-brother claimed she is to blame for his homelessness

Meghan Markle's half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr., is in the press a lot less frequently than the duchess' father and her half-sister, Samantha Markle. But he has still made some very extreme claims about Meghan. In a 2020 interview with New Idea, Thomas Jr. seemingly blamed the duchess for more recent hardships in his life: He'd broken up with his partner, Darlene Blount, lost jobs, and was homeless. "Being associated with Meghan has nearly destroyed me," he said, calling the Markle name a "curse."

"I am homeless and could have been under a bridge with a cardboard sign begging for money but thankfully my mum has taken me in," Thomas Jr. continued. "Meghan could have helped me or got someone else at the palace to do so." He went on to call Prince Harry and Meghan "hypocrites" because he and his family "have all been blamed for making money and now they're doing the same thing [since stepping back from royal duties]. The only difference is, we're all broke."

We wish Thomas Jr. the best, but also suggest we take these claims with a serving of side-eye.

One of Meghan Markle's nephews was arrested on a felony charge

Thomas Markle Jr.'s oldest son, Thomas Dooley, has followed in his father's footsteps in more recent years and gotten in trouble with the law. In September 2019, he was arrested in Hollywood for "unruly" behavior in public. Dooley, who was allegedly under the influence of drugs, was spotted walking down a street "shouting gibberish" while donning only a towel, TMZ reported. The tabloid later obtained video of Dooley being apprehended by authorities while completely naked. He was charged with a felony for resisting arrest, because a police officer "injured his knee" while trying to detain him. A witness told TMZ that Dooley was "strapped to a gurney and a paramedic treated him" on the scene.

The Daily Mail reported on a court appearance he made after the incident. Dooley and his lawyer requested that he be allowed to enter a "mental health diversion program" rather than having to go through a trial for his felony charge. If convicted of that charge, he could "potentially [face] up to three years" behind bars.

Martin Zepeda, a former fling of Dooley, told the Daily Mail that Meghan Markle's nephew developed an addiction to meth after divorcing his husband of 10 years, Ronnie Tanner, in 2019. Zepeda and Dooley had a 48-hour affair, during which Dooley would allegedly frequently take hits of meth. Zepeda said, "Eventually, I think it could end up killing him."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Has Meghan Markle's other nephew used his aunt's name for attention?

Meghan Markle's nephew, Tyler Dooley, is Thomas Markle Jr.'s youngest son. In 2018, he told the Daily Mail that he is a "pioneer" in the marijuana industry and he is a licensed medical marijuana grower. Marijuana is legal in Oregon, and Dooley does not believe it should be considered a "gateway drug." He said, "Alcohol and tobacco are far more harmful. Prescription pills kill millions in Britain and America every year. Marijuana can help people coming off opioid painkillers."

Dooley added, "Prince Harry enjoys a good party. I'd be happy to show them around if they ever come out here and educate them on the medicinal benefits of marijuana which helps everything from post-traumatic stress syndrome to insomnia to pain in cancer patients."

All of this is pretty harmless, but it still seems a little bit shady that Dooley made sure to take advantage of his aunt's fame in April 2018, right before her wedding. In honor of the royal nuptials, he also named one of his strains of weed "Markle Sparkle."

Many of Meghan Markle's family members have financial issues

At this point, it might not come as a surprise that many of Meghan Markle's family members have financial issues and have filed for bankruptcy. Vanity Fair reported that her father, Thomas Markle Sr., did so in 2016, years after winning the lottery that potentially helped him pay for some of Meghan's college education. He had to file after "poor investments and family feuds" left him with no other choice. In 2018, The Blast reported that Thomas Sr. had filed for bankruptcy three times in total and lived off of a small retirement fund and social security payments. 

His older children, Samantha and Thomas Markle Jr., followed in their father's footsteps and filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and 2012, respectively. Thomas Jr. said he had $10 to his name, but owed $88,000 in debt at the time, Vanity Fair reported. 

Royal fans undoubtedly know that Meghan Markle is close to her mother, Doria Ragland, who doesn't seem to have as many dark secrets as her ex-husband, Thomas Sr. — but Vanity Fair reported that Ragland also had to file for bankruptcy when a Los Angeles boutique she owned failed.