Taking the stand. Prince Harry testified against the publisher of the Daily Mirror for allegedly hacking phones.
The Duke of Sussex, 38, arrived in court on Tuesday, June 6, and fielded questions from Andrew Green, a lawyer for Mirror Group Newspapers. At one point, Harry told the court that he was “not sure” whose phone was allegedly hacked when a story about him breaking his thumb at Eton appeared in the press.
“Are we not, Prince Harry, in the realms of total speculation?” Green replied. In response, the BetterUp CIO said he was “not the one who wrote the article.”
Earlier in the proceedings, Harry suggested that his landline at school could have been hacked while he was talking to his late mom, Princess Diana. “That’s just speculation you’ve come up with now,” Green told the prince in response.
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst graduate was also questioned about using the phrase “blood on their hands” in his witness statement. When asked if he was referring to a specific article, Harry said he meant “some of the editors and journalists that are responsible for causing a lot of pain, upset and in some cases, speaking personally, death,” in reference to the death of his mother.
Earlier on Tuesday, Harry’s 55-page witness statement was released. In the document, the prince blamed tabloid coverage about him for the demise of his relationship with ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy, whom he dated off and on from 2004 to 2011. “Ultimately, these factors led her to make the decision that a Royal life was not for her, which was incredibly upsetting for me at the time,” he wrote.
The Mirror Group trial began on Monday, June 5, but Harry was not present for opening statements. At the time, his lawyer David Sherborne explained that the Spare author was flying to the U.K. from Los Angeles after celebrating daughter Princess Lilibet’s 2nd birthday on Sunday, June 4. (Harry and wife Meghan Markle share daughter Lilibet along with son Prince Archie, 4.)
The Mirror’s legal team accused the Invictus Games founder of “wasting” the court’s time, referring to the royal’s absence as “absolutely extraordinary.”
The couple moved to the United States after they stepped down as senior members of the royal family in 2020. Both the retired military pilot and Suits alum, 41, have been candid about how the British press played a major role in their decision to leave the U.K.
Harry, for his part, has filed three lawsuits against several of Britain’s tabloid publishers. His case against the Mirror Group was the first to head for trial on Monday, June 5. The Archewell cofounder claimed that he and his inner circle were targeted by allegedly accessing his voicemail messages and using other illegal methods between 1996 and 2011, per the New York Times. The media company, meanwhile, denied the claims by stating that its journalists used legal reporting techniques.
The former royal’s second lawsuit is also for alleged phone hacking. In the suit, he is joined by Elton John, David Furnish, Elizabeth Hurley, Sadie Frost and Baroness Doreen Lawrence are also plaintiffs in the case which has yet to go to trial.
With his testimony, Harry became the first senior member of the royal family in more than 100 years to take the stand in court.
“This is about duty and service, and I feel as though being part of this family, it is my duty to uncover this exploitation and bribery that happens within our media,” Harry explained in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s 2022 Netflix series, Harry & Meghan, of the impact the press has had on his upbringing.
The duke and his brother, Prince William, were 12 and 15, respectively, when their mother died following a car accident involving photographers in 1997. Nearly two decades later, Harry found himself in an eerily similar situation to his late mother’s demise. While in New York City with the Duchess of Sussex, the pair were involved in a car chase after leaving the 2023 Women of Vision Awards. At the time, rumors swirled that the incident was a publicity stunt — which the royals later slammed.
“Respectfully, considering the Duke’s family history, one would have to think nothing of the couple or anybody associated with them to believe this was any sort of PR stunt,” Ashley Hansen, a spokesperson for the Sussexes, told The New York Times in an article published in May. “Quite frankly, I think that’s abhorrent.”