The Duke of Sussex wants to prove that stories about him were written using illegally obtained information. Unlike his recent autobiography or Netflix documentary, he will have little control over this courtroom-based narrative.
By Laura Bundock, royal correspondent @laurabundock
Sunday June 4, 2023 2:32 PM, UK
The last time a senior royal appeared as a witness in the High Court, the Mirror newspaper didn’t even exist.
It was the year 1891, and the heir to the throne, Prince Edward, was called to testify during the Royal Baccarat scandal, a case about cheating at cards.
His mother, Queen Victoria, was angry, embarrassed and certainly not amused.
Of course, prince harry‘s case is not about gambling, but make no mistake, he is taking a great personal risk.
Such is his mission to change the media landscape, that he is prepared to stand in the witness box, subject to rigorous cross-examination by some of Britain’s most challenging and searching lawyers.
This is a moment you’ve waited for years, and it couldn’t be more personal. Harry blames the tabloids for harming his life and taking the life of his mother.
We have heard a lot about him in recent months, through his Netflix series, his memories Replacementand his subsequent television interviews.
Harry had a story to sell, but now he has a score to settle.
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Unlike his previous appearances, with well-known and carefully selected interviewers, this one will be very different.
There will be nothing comfortable or familiar in the High Court, and Harry will have little control over the cross-examination or the narrative.
He is trying to show that, for two decades, stories were written about him using information illegally obtained through phone hacking and voicemail interception, whistleblowing and the use of private investigators.
These were articles about his private life, his personal life and his professional life. The articles and intrusion which he claimed caused paranoia, suspicion and major bouts of depression.
The questioning will be ‘explosive’
And his evidence will try to prove that not only his phone was hacked, but also the phones of the people closest to him.
Harry will inevitably draw others to this court case, even if they privately prefer to keep their names out of a public court.
We already know Prince William solved a hacking case against the editors of The Sun and News of the World for a “very large sum”.
But reaching an agreement has never been in the cards for Prince Harry because he wants his allegations to be heard in open court.
He wants to be heard, and unlike many other alleged wiretapping victims, he can afford to take his fight as far as he can.
What happens in court will be explosive.
Prince Harry will testify under oath, in front of a KC who will try to “tear his case to shreds,” as a High Court lawyer told me privately.
This hacking case is one of three that is being fought against the British press. Two others involving the owners of The Sun and Daily Mail are still being resolved by the courts.
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Queen Victoria reportedly hated her son appearing in the High Court.
The king, who is conveniently out of the country on vacation in Transylvania, once told his son that his court cases were a “suicide mission.”
But Harry does things his own way, and has made it clear that taking on the tabloids will be his “life’s work.”
That work is now well underway.
Follow full coverage of Prince Harry in court starting Monday