Prince Harry gave evidence at the High Court in London on Tuesday in a case brought against the publisher of the British tabloid Daily Mirror for alleged phone hacking and other illegal activities.
Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, previously admitted its titles were involved in phone hacking, but said there was no evidence Harry was yet a victim.
Below are excerpts and highlights from the courtroom where Harry faces hours of cross-examination in the witness box on Tuesday and Wednesday:
The state of the press and government at Parakkad
“Nationally, right now, our country is judged globally by the state of our media and our government – both of which I believe are at the bottom,” Harry said in a written witness statement.
“Democracy fails when your media fails to scrutinize and hold the government accountable, instead choosing to lie with them so they can ensure the status quo.”
‘Absolutely vile’ behaviour
“In my experience as a member of the Royal Family, each of us plays a special role in the tabloid press,” Harry wrote in his written statement.
“It was a downward spiral whereby the tabloids were constantly trying to make me a ‘damaged’ young man do something stupid that would make a good story and sell a lot of papers. Looking back now, their behavior was downright bad.”
Asked why Buckingham Palace did not complain to the press complaints watchdog if a story was false, he said: “That means, my Lord, there are too many complaints every day.”
Asked if he believed his father King Charles’ voicemails had been hacked over a story about him taking drugs, Harry said: “Potentially illegal data collection, yes.”
MGN’s lawyer Andrew Green said the “uncomfortable reality” was that Harry’s private information was sometimes released to the media with the consent of the palace or people within the palace.
Harry replied: “From certain individuals, yes.”
Harry said his real father was Major James Hewitt and was related to his mother.
They were malicious, vile and cruel, he said in the testimony. “I was always questioning the motives behind the stories. Did the press want to cast doubt in the public’s mind to get me out of the royal family?”
A news outlet reported that Harry swore about Paul Burrell, his mother’s former butler. “That’s an expression I used when describing Mr. Burrell,” Harry said. “I… I believe this can be lifted directly from a voicemail I left.”
Life wasted on paranoia
Harry said in his witness statement: “Understanding what the defendant’s (MGN) journalists do and how they get their information, I can see how much of my life has been wasted on this madness.
“I’ve always heard people call my mom crazy, but she wasn’t. She was actually scared of what was happening to her, and now I know I am too.”
Green suggested to Harry that his allegation that an article about him breaking his thumb as a teenager was the result of phone hacking or other illegal data collection was “totally in the realms of speculation.”
Harry said “things like that are kind of crazy for a young man at school where he has to go to the medical center and can’t trust the doctors anymore”.
Blood on their hands?
Harry was asked about a passage in his press statement in which he said: “How long will their typing fingers bleed before someone stops this madness?”
Asked if there was blood on the hands of the MGN journalists who wrote the articles at the center of his lawsuit, he replied: “A lot of pain and discomfort and in some cases some editors and journalists are responsible. Inadvertently – death.”
“At no point did I have a girlfriend or a relationship, and the tabloids didn’t get involved and ultimately tried to destroy it using the illegal means at their disposal,” Harry wrote in his witness statement.
At Piers Morgan
“The thought of Piers Morgan and his team of journalists eavesdropping on my mother’s private and sensitive messages (like mine) and giving her a nightmare in Paris three months before she died makes me feel physically ill.”
Morgan, a former editor of the Mirror and now a high profile broadcaster, has denied any involvement in illegal behaviour.