The Duke of Sussex took the stand in a London court to testify against Mirror Group Newspapers over alleged unlawful information gathering
The Duke of Sussex, 38, stepped out on Tuesday and took the witness stand in a London court to testify against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over alleged unlawful information gathering. This made Harry the first prominent member of the British royal family to give evidence in court in 130 years.
Prince Harry's 55-page witness statement detailed the numerous articles published by MGN's outlets that he believes "were most likely gleaned from voicemail interception and/or unlawful information gathering." Among those named in the witness statement as people that Prince Harry regularly exchanged voice messages with were his brother Prince William, his father King Charles, his mother Princess Diana and his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy.
But in the witness statement, Harry's father is incorrectly referred to as "HRH King Charles III," with "HRH" standing for "His Royal Highness." When Charles became monarch upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in September, the "His Royal Highness" title changed to "His Majesty."
During the "relevant period" referred to in the trial, spanning from 1996 and 2010, Charles was not yet the King. Instead, his title was "His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales."
Prince Harry referred to Prince William, 40, in the witness statement by his current title, following the death of Queen Elizabeth and King Charles' accession to the throne, as heir: "HRH The Prince of Wales, my brother."
The Duke of Sussex said on the witness stand on Tuesday that the "whole witness statement was written by me."
Prince Harry said in the witness statement that throughout his life, "tabloids would routinely publish articles about me that were often wrong but interspersed with snippets of truth, which I now think were most likely gleaned from voicemail interception and/or unlawful information gathering."
He continued, "I genuinely feel that in every relationship that I’ve ever had — be that with friends, girlfriends, with family or with the army, there’s always been a third party involved, namely the tabloid press. Having seen me grow up from a baby (being born into this 'contractual relationship' without any choice) and scrutinised my every move, the tabloids have known the challenges and mental health struggles that I have had to deal with throughout my childhood and adult life and for them to then play on that and use it to their own advantage, I think is, well, criminal."
In the witness statement, the Duke of Sussex detailed unusual phone activity, including listening to voicemails for the first time that didn't register on the phone as new messages. He said in the witness statement, "I wouldn’t go into my voicemail unless the little envelope symbol flashed up on my phone signaling to me that I had a new message. Sometimes this symbol would vanish before I had a chance to listen to the voicemail."
Prince Harry did not appear in court on Monday, the day after his and Meghan Markle's daughter Princess Lilibet's second birthday. His attorney David Sherborne told the court that Harry was not available to give evidence after traveling from California on Sunday night.
Over 100 people are suing MGN for alleged illegal activity between 1991 and 2022, and Prince Harry is one of four representative claimants whose cases were selected for trial. The trial started on May 10 and is expected to last seven weeks.
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Prince Harry received an apology from MGN at the start of the trial. "MGN unreservedly apologises for all such instances of UIG, and assures the claimants that such conduct will never be repeated," the apology read in full.
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