The former Meghan Markle’s niece, Ashleigh Hale, is opening up for the first time about her relationship with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in the new docuseries "Harry & Meghan."
In the Netflix show, which was produced by three production companies, including Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Productions, Hale explained that she's related to Meghan through her mom, Samantha Markle, who is also Meghan's half-sister.
After being raised by her paternal grandparents since she was 2 years old, Hale said she saw Samantha Markle when she was 6 years old and then again around 2007.
When Meghan's father, Thomas Markle, told her that Samantha Markle had "found her daughter," Meghan said that she reached out to Hale via email and that's when their relationship started.
"It started out with these long emails back and forth to each other. And then texts and calls. After a while, I think we were talking on some level, several days a week," Hale explained.
"We just hit it off," Meghan added.
The "Suits" alum and Hale grew so close that they even went on vacation together to New Orleans.
"I think she takes on a lot of roles for me," Hale said. "There's like a sister element, there's something maternal. She's a best friend. She's kind of all the things."
"I think we both craved the same thing," Meghan added. "I wanted a sister and she was like a little sister. Ashleigh was put through quite a bit by the media, just by association and I didn't want her life to be plagued with all that drama."
Hale explained that once her mom found out that Meghan and Harry were an item, she started to tell Hale some "angry words" about Meghan, and to Hale, it seemed like Samantha Markle had "some resentment."
"It felt like no matter what I said, her perspective didn't change and it seemed to get angrier and bigger. And we stopped talking," Hale said. "You know, some people, you just can't reason with."
However, as Meghan started to gain more and more media attention in the months leading up to her May 2018 nuptials with Harry, Hale noticed that her aunt would communicate with her "less and less."
"My impression was that her relationships were being managed on some level," Hale said.
James Holt, Harry and Meghan’s former spokesperson, explained that every duke and duchess in the royal family has a communications team and it allows them to be "one step removed from dealing with the media."
But due to the drama that Samantha Markle was creating in the press, Meghan said she was given guidance to not have half-sister and Hale attend her wedding.
"How do we explain that this half-sister isn't invited to the wedding, but that the half-sister's daughter is?" Meghan shared. "And so with Ashleigh, the guidance at the time was to not have her come to our wedding."
Once Harry and Meghan revealed the news to Hale, she said she was "hurt on some level," but at the same time she "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," she said.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com