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Prince Harry’s Many Legal Cases Explained: Phone Hacking, Police Protection and More

Prince Harry-s Many Legal Cases Explained
Ryan Jenkinson/Story Picture Agency/Shutterstock

Since stepping down as a senior working royal in 2020, Prince Harry hasn’t been shy about standing up for himself — and has attempted to do so through several lawsuits.

Perhaps most famously, the Duke of Sussex has fought against the fact that he and his wife, Meghan Markle, lost state-funded police protection during United Kingdom visits after they stepped down. Harry’s legal team argued that the couple — as well as their children, son Archie and daughter Lilibet — remain high-profile figures despite no longer being working royals.

“Prince Harry inherited a security risk at birth, for life. He remains sixth in line to the throne, served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan, and in recent years his family has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats,” his team said in a statement in January 2022. “While his role within the Institution has changed, his profile as a member of the royal family has not. Nor has the threat to him and his family.”

In 2022, Harry asked for a judicial review after England’s Home Office said private individuals cannot use state security even if they offer to pay for it themselves. Nearly one year later, Judge Martin Chamberlain ruled against Harry, denying Harry’s request to pay police officers to protect his family while in the U.K.

“If privately funded protective security were permitted, a less wealthy individual would feel unfairly treated, the availability of a limited specialist resource would be reduced and a precedent would have been set which it would be difficult to contain,” Chamberlain wrote in his May 2023 decision. A lawyer for the U.K. government, meanwhile, argued that it was not appropriate to permit individuals to hire “police officers as private bodyguards for the wealthy.”

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While Chamberlain shut down Harry’s offer to pay for his own police protection, the prince is still part of a pending case that could overturn the Home Office’s decision to withdraw his state-funded security. If he wins that case, the government could have to reinstate police protection for him when he’s in his home country. He is currently only protected while attending official royal events like the late Queen Elizabeth II‘s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022 or King Charles III‘s coronation in May 2023.

Keep scrolling for a complete guide to Harry’s various legal battles:

Mirror Group Newspapers

Harry is part of a group suing Mirror Group Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mirror, for allegedly hacking into celebrities’ voicemails to obtain personal information. MGN has denied Harry’s claims that reporters accessed his voicemails and argued that they are not liable for any allegations predating October 2000, when the U.K.’s 1998 Human Rights Act went into effect. Harry testified in the case in June 2023, becoming the first royal to take the stand in 130 years.

Status: Both sides presented their closing arguments in June 2023. The judge is expected to hand down a decision by September 2023.

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News Group Newspapers

Harry is also suing News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun, for alleged unlawful information gathering for stories published in the company’s tabloids. In April 2023, Harry also claimed that his brother, Prince William, settled with NGN for a “very large sum” in 2020. In a court filing, he alleged that the royal family had a “secret agreement” with NGN which prevented members of the royal family from filing lawsuits against the company.

Prince Harry-s Many Legal Cases Explained
Prince Harry outside the High Court in London, June 2023. NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

NGN has previously admitted that phone hacking took place at News of the World, which closed in 2011. The company also claimed no wrongdoing ever took place at The Sun and has denied Harry’s claims about a secret deal with the royal family.

Status: Judge Timothy Fancourt ruled in July 2023 that the case can move forward on allegations of unlawful information gathering, but Harry’s phone hacking claims were thrown out for falling outside the six-year time limit for bringing a case. Fancourt also said Harry failed to produce any evidence that the “secret agreement” between NGN and the royal family ever existed. A trial is set to begin in January 2024.

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Associated Newspapers Limited (Defamation)

Harry filed a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers Limited, which owns the Daily Mail, over a February 2022 article that appeared in the Mail on Sunday. Harry claimed that the story libeled him by suggesting that he lied in his initial public statements about his police protection lawsuit. A lawyer for the newspaper, meanwhile, argued that Harry’s legal team was “straitjacketing the newspaper’s right to comment.”

Status: A judge ruled in July 2022 that the article was defamatory and the case can move forward with a trial. A trial date has not been set.

Associated Newspapers Limited (Phone Hacking)

Harry’s other lawsuit against Associated Newspapers Limited includes claims similar to those in his cases against MGN and NGN. He is part of a group of celebrities — including Elton John and Elizabeth Hurley — suing Associated for allegedly hacking their phones to obtain personal information. Associated denied the allegations and argued the phone hacking claims are too old for legal action.

Prince Harry-s Many Legal Cases Explained
Prince Harry leaving the High Court in London, March 2023. ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Status: Harry attended a preliminary hearing in March 2023. The case is still pending.

Government-Funded Police Protection

While Harry lost his bid to pay for police protection himself, he still has a pending case against the government that could restore state-funded security for him and his family during their U.K. visits. In July 2022, Judge Jonathan Swift ruled that Harry can move forward with his petition for a judicial review of RAVEC’s original 2020 decision to remove publicly funded security for him and his family. RAVEC, the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, is responsible for providing security for individuals who are deemed in need of public security.

Harry’s legal team has argued that RAVEC’s decision was unreasonable because Harry was not allowed to make “informed representations beforehand.”

Status: No court date has been set.

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