Harry & Meghan, Netflix’s splashy new docuseries about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, premiered today and offered royal watchers an avalanche of never before shared material. There are new photos of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s kids Archie and Lilibet, fresh details about how the couple met and fell in love, but the biggest bombshell comes in Episode 3. We meet Ashleigh Hale, Meghan Markle’s niece and Samantha Markle’s biological daughter. The immigration attorney not only reveals that she has a close relationship with Meghan, but that royal advisors pushed her aunt and now uncle to not invite her to their wedding to avoid a tabloid scandal.
Ashleigh Hale also sheds new light on Meghan Markle’s relationship with her openly hostile sister, Samantha Markle, and reveals that she herself is no longer speaking with her mother.
Harry & Meghan is a six part docuseries directed by Oscar and Emmy winner Liz Garbus that purports to tell the story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s romance from their point of view. The first three episodes dropped today, December 8, and the final three will premiere on Netflix on Thursday, December 15. The first half of the series introduces us to the retired royal couple and details how they met (on Instagram!?) and fell in love. The main villain of the show so far isn’t the Royal Family, but the UK tabloid press. However, if there’s one person who gets the villain edit, it’s Samantha Markle.
Samantha Markle is Meghan Markle’s older half sister from her father’s first marriage. After Meghan Markle became engaged to Prince Harry in late 2017, Samantha Markle began feeding negative stories about her sister to the British tabloids and even wrote a tell-all book about “Princess Pushy.” The Duchess of Sussex has long maintained that she never had a close enough relationship with her half-sister to even have a falling out with Samantha. However, we learn in Harry & Meghan Episode 3 that there is someone in Samantha’s orbit whom Meghan is close with. Samantha’s biological daughter, Ashleigh Hale.
Harry & Meghan on Netflix: Who is Ashleigh Hale, Meghan Markle’s Niece?
Ashleigh Hale introduces herself as an immigration lawyer and “Meg’s niece” in Episode 3 of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan. We learn that she is the biological daughter of Meghan Markle’s half-sister Samantha Markle, but she and her brother were raised by her paternal grandparents. Those grandparents gained custody of Ashleigh when she was about two-years-old and she and her brother were eventually legally adopted by them. Hence why Ashleigh emphasizes that Samantha is her “biological” mother.
At some point in 2007, Ashleigh reconnected with Samantha Markle for the first time since she was six years old. Meghan Markle then says she remembers her father sharing that “Samantha just found her daughter” at this time and Meghan asking for Ashleigh’s email address. Ashleigh says her relationship with Meghan started with long emails back and forth, which led to texts, calls, and regular communication. Meghan invited Ashleigh on vacations and they shared photos and memories of going to New Orleans.
Ashleigh Hale says that Meghan Markle filled a lot of roles for her. “There’s a sister element, there’s something maternal. She’s a best friend. She’s kind of all the things.” Meghan Markle says that “Ash” was like “her little sister.”
Ashleigh Hale says that after news of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s engagement broke, Samantha Markle began “expressing a lot of angry words about Meg.” Hale says she felt there was “some resentment.” She added that no matter what she said, Samantha Markle became “angrier” about her half-sister. Hale says she and her biological mother stopped talking. “You know, some people you just can’t reason with,” she said.
We later learned that after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s engagement, Hale received “less and less communication” from her aunt. Meghan Markle describes herself as “turtling” at this time. This was the time Samantha Markle was telling the tabloids she still hadn’t been invited to the wedding. The royal comms team decided that inviting Ashleigh Hale to the wedding, but not her mother would be a PR disaster and they convinced Meghan and Harry that they could not invite Ashleigh to the event.
Meghan Markle describes a “painful” phone call that included Prince Harry where the couple had to explain this “guidance” to Hale. Then Hale says she told them she was “hurt on some level, but I understood where it was coming from.”
“To know that it was because of my biological mother that this relationship that’s so important to me was impacted in that way…To feel like because of her it was taken away…it’s been hard,” Hale said.
So don’t worry hardcore royal fans! Meghan Markle’s family comes out a lot worse in the first three episodes of Harry & Meghan. And half-sister Samantha Markle comes out the worst. The show is sympathetic towards Thomas Markle, revealing that he and Meghan were close until the tabloids seduced him with bribes, but Samantha gets the villain edit for sure.
The last three episodes of Harry & Meghan premiere on Netflix on Thursday, December 15 and should pick up the story right at the fairy tale wedding.