The Duke of Sussex joins three other claimants in accusing the publisher of British tabloid The Daily Mirror of using unlawful methods, such as phone hacking, to secure stories. Mirror Group Newspapers has previously admitted to phone hacking but denies that the technique was used in the instances outlined in the claim. The case is one of five ongoing cases the royal has launched against U.K. media outlets.Harry appeared relaxed as he arrived at court, flashing a smirk at the crowd before patting a member of his team on the back and striding into the building. A swarm of photographers surrounded the entrance alongside curious onlookers, including an artist wielding an off-kilter painting of Harry and wife Meghan Markle on a donkey.
Harry made his appearance after failing to attend court on Monday, when he was originally expected to give evidence. Judge Fancourt expressed his “surprise” that Harry wasn’t present, though sources indicate that the duke wasn’t instructed by his legal team to attend. The royal’s representatives said Harry stayed behind in California to celebrate his daughter Lilibet’s birthday.
Over the course of Tuesday and possibly even Wednesday, Harry will give evidence as to how unlawful techniques were used to report stories on him between 1996 and 2009. The case will examine 33 sample articles from Mirror Group Newspapers-owned outlets over the course of that period. The prince is expected to provide facts or compelling circumstantial evidence to support his claims against each of the 33 articles.
In a 55-page written witness statement released during Tuesday’s hearing, and seen by Variety, Harry details the role of the tabloid press in his life, and outlines a number of “associates” he was in touch with during that period over voicemails, including late “Love Island” presenter Caroline Flack, sports presenter Natalie Pinkham, his mother Diana, brother Prince William and ex-girlfriend Chelsea Davy.
“Despite the common misconception, I was no more than 5% funded by the taxpayer while I was a working Royal in the UK, yet it felt as though the tabloid press thought that they owned me absolutely, and deserved to know everything there is to know about me, my life, my movements and the lives of those people who came into my orbit,” wrote Harry in the statement, dated from February.
The royal also described the “unusual” mobile activity that led him to believe he was a victim of phone hacking: “I wouldn’t go into my voicemail unless the little envelope symbol flashed up on my phone signalling to me that I had a new message. Sometimes this symbol would vanish before I had a chance to listen to the voicemail. I don’t know how long after they’d been listened to that the symbol vanished, presumably straight away. I also distinctly remember people saying to me ‘did you not get my voicemail?’ on both a personal and a work-related level. I was like, ‘no’, and sometimes I would go back into my voicemail to look for it but still couldn’t find it.”
Harry also makes specific mention of documents disclosed by Mirror Group Newspapers as part of the case, some of which involved Diana’s private letters to the British TV presenter Michael Barrymore.
“All three letters were written during Piers Morgan’s editorship of the Daily Mirror,” wrote Harry. “The thought of Piers Morgan and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother’s private and sensitive messages (in the same way as they have me) and then having given her a ‘nightmare time’ three months prior to her death in Paris, makes me feel physically sick and even more determined to hold those responsible, including Mr Morgan, accountable for their vile and entirely unjustified behaviour.”
The remainder of the extensive document contains Harry’s written evidence as to why each of the 33 articles at the center of the case involved allegedly unlawful reporting techniques.
Harry was cross-examined in court by Andrew Green KC, the lawyer for Mirror Group Newspapers. Asked about the royal’s “hostility” to local media, which Green suggested preceded any alleged unlawful methods of newsgathering by the tabloid press, Harry replied, “I’ve experienced hostility from the press since I was born.”
“Every single article has caused me distress,” Harry added.
Green repeatedly pointed out on Tuesday that stories described in Harry’s case appeared previously in other publications, suggesting that Mirror Group Newspapers outlets were merely following the news cycle with their own versions of a story.
While royals have appeared in court previously — Princess Anne, for example, in 2002 pleaded guilty to failing to prevent one of her dogs from biting a child — Harry’s case marks the first time since 1891 that a senior royal has entered the witness box. (Prince Andrew narrowly escaped testifying himself after settling his sexual assault case with Virginia Giuffre in February 2022.) In the 19th century, Prince Edward VII, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, served as a witness in a slander trial involving a card game. In 1870, he also testified as part of a divorce case where he was falsely accused of being the lover of an MP.