According to the Associated Press, the 38-year-old prince’s lawyer David Sherborne explained that Harry wasn’t available for the opening statements on Monday, June 5, because he was flying to the U.K. from Los Angeles after celebrating daughter Lilibet’s 2nd birthday on Sunday, June 4. Judge Timothy Fancourt told the attorney that he was “a little surprised” by Harry’s absence as he was expected to be in court on Monday in case the opening statements were wrapped before the end of the session.
“He is in a different category from the three other claimants due to his travel and security arrangements,” Sherborne said, adding that his client is prepared to testify on Tuesday, June 6.
The Mirror’s legal team subsequently accused Harry of “wasting” the court’s time, referring to his absence as “absolutely extraordinary.” Lawyer Andrew Green added that he was “deeply troubled” by Harry not showing up on Monday.
Harry and wife Meghan Markle, who also share son Archie, 4, relocated to America in 2020 after stepping down from their jobs as working members of the royal family. The couple have been very vocal about how issues with the British press impacted their decision to distance themselves from the U.K., with Harry alleging that the Mirror Group illegally obtained information via phone hacking to write stories about him over the years.
“The ends justify the means for the defendant,” Sherborne said in court on Monday, per the AP. “There was no time in his life when he was safe from these activities. Nothing was sacrosanct or out of bounds and there was no protection from these unlawful information-gathering methods.”
Mirror Group has denied using phone hacking to report on Harry, claiming that their journalists used legal reporting techniques — public statements, documents and insiders — to write about the former military pilot. The publishing group previously admitted to and apologized for using a private investigator for a 2004 story titled “Sex on the beach with Harry.”
With his upcoming testimony, Harry will become the first senior member of the royal family in more than 100 years to testify 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.
“The majority of my memories are of being swarmed by paparazzi,” Harry recalled on the show. “Within the family, within the system, the advice that’s always given is, ‘Don’t react. Don’t feed into it.’ There was always public pressure with its fair share of drama, stress, and also tears. And witnessing those tears. I always see it on my mom’s face. And I guess those are the moments when I thought, ‘Hang on a little. What am I? Who am I? What am I a part of?’”