Prince Harry Takes the Stand in Phone-Hacking Trial, Risking Royal Family’s Reputation


Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is making history as he becomes involved in a groundbreaking legal battle against Mirror Group Newspapers. The lawsuit alleges that the company illegally obtained and published confidential information about the prince from 1996 to 2011. This lawsuit is one of three phone-hacking claims Prince Harry is pursuing, with the others directed at Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers and the Mail newspapers.

Although Prince Harry is a prominent figure in this lawsuit, he is not the only claimant. Over 100 individuals, including Ian Wright, a former footballer and TV presenter, Cheryl Cole of Girls Aloud fame, and the estate of the late singer George Michael, are also suing the Mirror Group. The company, however, has steadfastly denied these allegations, claiming that the claimants have waited too long to take legal action.

What sets Prince Harry’s case apart is his dedication to standing up against the media, whom he holds responsible for his mother’s death and his strained relationship with his family. After enduring years of intrusive headlines and public scrutiny, Prince Harry seems determined to fight back.

To gain insight into the significance of Prince Harry’s decision to give evidence, I spoke with Jim Waterson, the Guardian media editor. Waterson highlighted that this move deviates significantly from the royal family’s traditional approach to public life. Prince Harry is believed to be the first royal in over a century to testify in a trial, exposing himself to rigorous cross-examination. Waterson clarified that this British legal process is distinct from the American notion of “taking the stand.”

Historically, the royal family has avoided involving themselves in court proceedings to prevent potentially unpleasant revelations. However, Prince Harry has adopted a different mindset, demonstrating a willingness to confront the situation head-on. Despite the risks involved, including substantial legal fees and potential backlash from British newspapers, Prince Harry sees this as a calculated risk worth taking. He feels that the British press, particularly tabloids, have wronged him, his mother, and those close to him. By pursuing these cases, even if he doesn’t win, Prince Harry hopes to make the Mirror Group face the consequences and experience the consequences of their actions.

Prince Harry’s case may not guarantee a victory. The Mirror Group’s defense asserts that the majority of the articles he refers to were based on tips rather than hacking. Additionally, they may argue that Prince Harry filed his claims beyond the permissible timeframe. Typically, victims have six years from the occurrence or their awareness of wrongdoing to initiate legal action. Consequently, a judge could dismiss the case on the grounds of missed deadlines, rendering the issue of whether hacking occurred almost irrelevant.

The best possible outcome for Prince Harry would be a court ruling confirming that the Mirror Group did indeed hack his phone and that certain individuals, some of whom still hold influential positions in the press, were aware of these actions. Ideally, this would result in holding these individuals accountable. Such a victory would deal a severe blow to the publisher.

In the past, the Mirror Group has resolved phone-hacking cases outside of court. If the judge rules against Prince Harry, many of the remaining claims may be dropped, providing some closure to this costly, embarrassing, and damaging ordeal for the company.

However, should the judge rule in Prince Harry’s favor and reveal that many victims are still unaware of being targeted, this saga could persist for years to come. Over the past decade, the Mirror Group has already paid £100 million in settlements and legal fees related to hundreds of phone-hacking claims. A substantial payout, though advantageous, is not Prince Harry’s primary motivation. As he stated in reference to his case against Murdoch’s papers, this is about holding those in power accountable.

Prince Harry’s involvement in the lawsuit against Mirror Group represents a significant milestone. His decision to give evidence in court and challenge the media’s actions signifies a new era for the royal family. While there are risks involved, including financial implications and potential backlash, Prince Harry is determined to seek justice and ensure accountability.

The impact of this case extends beyond Prince Harry’s personal interests. The outcome has far-reaching implications for the Mirror Group and the wider media industry. A ruling in Prince Harry’s favor would not only expose the extent of phone hacking but also hold responsible those who were aware of and involved in these unethical practices. Such a victory would send shockwaves through the publisher, forcing them to face the consequences of their actions.

Conversely, if the judge rules against Prince Harry, it may result in the dismissal of numerous claims against the Mirror Group. This outcome could potentially bring an end to a long and arduous chapter for the company. However, if the court finds in Prince Harry’s favor and reveals the existence of additional victims who are still unaware, the legal battle could continue indefinitely. This could place immense financial strain on the Mirror Group, considering their previous payouts and the already struggling state of the newspaper industry.

Regardless of the final verdict, Prince Harry’s determination to confront the media sends a powerful message. It demonstrates his unwavering commitment to seeking justice and holding those in power accountable for their actions. By taking this bold step, Prince Harry aims to challenge the status quo and create a more responsible and ethical media landscape.

In conclusion, Prince Harry’s participation in the lawsuit against Mirror Group is unprecedented for a royal. His decision to give evidence and face potential cross-examination showcases his dedication to fighting against media intrusion and seeking justice. The outcome of this case will not only impact Prince Harry personally but also have broader implications for the Mirror Group and the media industry as a whole. Prince Harry’s actions signify a turning point and a courageous stand for accountability and change.