Prince Harry has arrived at the High Court in London, where he will become the first senior royal to take the witness stand in 130 years.
The Duke of Sussex joins three other plaintiffs in accusing the publisher of British tabloid The Daily Mirror of using illegal methods, such as phone hacking, to secure stories. Mirror Group Newspapers has previously admitted to phone hacking, but denies the technique was used in the cases described in the claim. The case is one of five ongoing cases the royal has launched against the British media.
Harry seemed relaxed as he arrived in court on Tuesday morning, smirking at the crowd before patting a member of his team on the back and entering the building. A swarm of photographers surrounded the entrance alongside onlookers, including an artist holding up a quirky painting of Harry and his wife Meghan Markle on a donkey.
Harry made his appearance after failing to appear in court on Monday when he was originally due to give evidence. Judge Fancourt expressed his “surprise” that Harry was not present, although sources say the Duke has not been instructed by his legal team to attend. Representatives of the royal family said Harry stayed in California to celebrate his daughter Lilibet’s birthday.
During Tuesday and possibly even Wednesday, Harry will testify to how illegal techniques were used to report stories about him between 1996 and 2009. The case will examine 33 examples of newspaper articles owned by Mirror Group Newspapers during this period. period. The prince is expected to provide facts or compelling circumstantial evidence to support his claims against each of the 33 articles.
Harry was cross-examined by Andrew Green KC, the lawyer for Mirror Group Newspapers. Asked about the royal family’s ‘hostility’ to the local media, which Green said preceded any alleged illegal method of newsgathering by the tabloid press, Harry replied: ‘I have known the hostility of the press since my birth.”
“Each article caused me distress,” Harry added.
While senior royals have appeared in court before – Princess Anne, for example, in 2002 pleaded guilty to failing to stop one of her dogs from biting a child – Harry’s case marks the first times since 1891 that a member of the royal family has entered the witness box. (Prince Andrew narrowly escaped testimony 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 libel suit involving a card game. In 1870, he also testified in a divorce case where he was falsely accused of being the lover of a deputy.
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