A Brief History of Piers Morgan’s One-Sided TV Feud With Meghan Markle

After Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry aired in the U.S. on Sunday night, Piers Morgan used his early-morning block of ITV’s Good Morning Britain to go on a tirade, which was met with quite a bit of resistance online. Nevertheless, the presenter was characteristically defiant, repeating his claims on Twitter. “Lots of people on here want me fired for expressing my opinion on the Pinocchio Princess,” he wrote. “If you want to join them, there are various petitions still doing the rounds from the last few times you’ve all tried, and failed, to have me fired for saying what I think.”

On Tuesday morning’s edition of the program, after the interview had aired in the U.K., Morgan was back at it again, and when a colleague, weatherman Alex Beresford, criticized his comments, he stormed off the set. Hours later, ITV announced that Morgan was leaving the show, where he had been an anchor since 2015, and the British media watchdog Ofcom announced that it had received more than 41,000 public complaints about Morgan’s comments. On Wednesday morning, royal reporter and biographer Omid Scobie tweeted Meghan herself had written to the head of ITV, and that the letter may have played a role in Morgan’s departure:

“I’m told that the letter was written by the duchess for one reason only,” Scobie added, “to raise and share concern over the serious impact that Morgan’s comments could have on anyone struggling with their mental health or thinking about seeking help.”

It’s a fitting end to a five-year saga that saw Morgan go from Markle supporter to committed foe. When Meghan and Harry’s relationship first went public in the fall of 2016, Morgan was one of the first people in the British media to have a sense of who she was. “My take on her was she’s very beautiful, she’s very intelligent, she’s 35, she’s been divorced, her dad’s Black, her mum’s white, and she had some problems with that growing up,” he said on GMB, perhaps confusing Meghan with her Suits character, Rachel Zane, whose father was played by Wendell Pierce. (Meghan’s mother is Black and her father is white.) “I was really impressed. I thought she was a very nice woman, very suited to Harry and different.” It wasn’t until a year later, after Harry and Meghan announced their engagement, that Morgan shared his direct messages with Meghan, when the two arranged to meet at his favored pub.

In Finding Freedom, the biography Scobie coauthored with American journalist Carolyn Durand, some of the context behind that meeting was revealed. In June 2016, Meghan stopped in London after a vacation on the Greek isle of Hydra in order to take a few meetings, fulfill a brand ambassador gig for Ralph Lauren, and attend Wimbledon. On June 30, she met Morgan at the Scarsdale pub in Kensington where she had a dirty martini and they talked politics. The very next day, according to Scobie and Durant, she went to a private booth at the Soho House for a blind date with Prince Harry, which had been arranged by her friends Misha Nonoo and Markus Anderson.

By the time Meghan and Harry announced their engagement in November 2017, the fledgling friendship between Morgan and the soon-to-be duchess had already faltered. “I didn’t hear from Meghan again after her royal romance erupted into the public gaze, which is perfectly understandable under the circumstances,” Morgan said in his column for the Daily Mail. “All will be forgiven though if I get an invite to the wedding of the year.” At the time, he approved of the match; the column’s headline was “Hearty congratulations, Harry, you picked a real keeper.” 

By March 2018, Morgan had admitted on air that the invitation was likely not forthcoming, joking that if it came, he would stand up and object during the ceremony. By the time the wedding actually rolled around, his criticism had become more intense, but still sympathetic. “If you thought being a royal girlfriend was difficult, just wait until you see how hard it is being a royal wife,” he wrote. “If you now start lecturing us all on equality, while your servants fluff your gold monogrammed pillows and your chauffeur warms up the fleet of vintage Rolls Royces, that well of goodwill may dry up.” He did, however, praise Harry and Prince William for their mental health activism.

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