Prince Harry made history testifying in the High Court against the Mirror Group Newspapers on Tuesday.
Prince Harry made history on Tuesday, becoming the first member of the royal family to testify in court in more than a century. The 38-year-old Duke of Sussex released a witness statement and took the stand at the High Court in London in his tabloid case against Mirror Group Newspapers.
In his witness statement, Harry outlined his case against the British media company, noting that stories about his personal life have impacted his relationships, mental health and safety.
"Whenever I got into a relationship, they were very keen to report the details but would then, very quickly, seek to try and break it up by putting as much strain on it and creating as much distrust as humanly possible," Harry shared in his statement. "I simply don’t understand (and never have) how the inner, private details of my relationships ... could have anything to do with the well-being of society or the running of the country and therefore be in the public interest."
Harry is married to wife Meghan Markle and the pair shares two children, son Archie, 4, and daughter, Lilibet, 2. The couple famously stepped down from their positions as working members of the royal family in 2020, citing press scrutiny and lack of safety as two of the reasons behind their exit.
Harry added in his statement that tabloid stories and alleged phone hacking took a toll on him.
"I would say their actions affected every area of my life," he wrote.
"It created a huge amount of paranoia in my relationships. I would become immediately suspicious of anyone that was named in a story about me, whether it was [confidantes] Mark Dyer, Tiggy [Harry and his brother Prince William's former nanny, Alexandra Shân "Tiggy" Pettifer] or her brother, Harry, for example."
Harry also addressed alleged phone hacking in his witness statement, specifically pointing to a situation with ex-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, when he went to pick her up at the airport.
"I walked into the arrivals hall with a baseball cap on and immediately spotted five separate paparazzi sitting on benches with cameras in bags, their hands inside rucksacks and everyone else looking at me," Harry said in his statement. "I recall thinking, 'How on earth did they know I was going to be there?' But now it’s obvious."
He also opened up about how tabloid stories affected their relationship.
"These kinds of articles made me feel as though my relationship with Chelsy was always set to be doomed," he said. "We couldn't even meet in private or have arguments over the telephone, without the Defendant somehow learning these details and publishing them for the whole country to see. Again, it was just that feeling of being under surveillance all the time. I believe Chelsy found this even more difficult to deal with when she lived in England."
"Whenever I have been in a relationship, I have always tried to be the best partner that I possibly could, but every woman has her limit," he also shared. "Unfortunately, they are not just in a relationship with me but with the entire tabloid press as the third party."
Harry was cross-examined by Andrew Green KC, a well-known lawyer representing the Mirror Group Newspapers.
Harry noted in his witness statement, "How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness?" and when asked in court about whether he intended to "put a stop to this madness," he replied, "That is my hope."
As for the alleged phone hacking, Harry shared several instances where voicemails were erased or never seen.
"I remember on multiple occasions hearing a voicemail for the first time that wasn’t new – I would simply put it down to perhaps a technical glitch... or even just having too many drinks the night before and having forgotten that I’d listened to it," he said. "I also distinctly remember people saying to me 'Did you not get my voicemail?'. I was like, 'No', and sometimes I would go back into my voicemail to look for it, but still couldn’t find it."
Noting that his phone was his "main means of communicating" with members of his family, especially his late mother, Princess Diana, and past girlfriends, Harry said, "My voicemails would include incredibly private and sensitive information about my relationships, my operational security and that of my family [and in later years] my work both in the Army and as a senior member of the royal family."
He added, "I now realize that my acute paranoia of being constantly under surveillance was not misplaced after all."
Harry specifically called out Piers Morgan, who was editor of the Daily Mirror at the time.
"The thought of Piers Morgan and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother’s private and sensitive messages... makes me feel physically sick and even more determined to hold those responsible, including Mr. Morgan, accountable for their vile and entirely unjustified behavior," Harry accused.
Morgan notably exited his job at Good Morning Britain after being criticized by a colleague for making disparaging comments about Harry's wife, Meghan, following their 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
During his testimony, Harry also addressed speculation that his biological father is Diana's former partner, Major James Hewitt -- not King Charles III -- and how this affected him. He referenced an article published by The People in December 2002 titled "Plot to rob the DNA of Harry."
"Numerous newspapers had reported a rumor that my biological father was James Hewitt, a man my mother had a relationship with after I was born," he wrote. "At the time of this article and others similar to it, I wasn't actually aware that my mother hadn't met Major Hewitt until after I was born."
Harry noted that the stories "felt very damaging and real to me."
"They were hurtful, mean and cruel," he wrote. "I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories. Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the royal family?"
ET spoke with royal expert Katie Nicholl, who called Harry addressing the Hewitt rumors "jaw-dropping."
"I mean, this case is deeply personal to Prince Harry," she said. "We know that he blames the paparazzi and the tabloid media for his mother's death. I mean, he's said that, you know, these journalists have blood on their hands. You know, how many more people will die at the hands of the press? This is emotive, it is personal, he has scores to settle and I think it's not just about his mother, it's also about him."
"It's about him and his trauma having felt that he's lived his entire life ever since he was a young boy in the glare of the media spotlight, that he was never able to have an ordinary life, an ordinary relationship, because of that intense scrutiny from the tabloid media," she continues. "And it feels that this is now payback time for Prince Harry. This is about settling scores and, you know, if he is able to prove that The Mirror intercepted his voicemails, that this was unlawful news gathering, well then, you know, people will say he's absolutely right for taking this to court."
Harry's testimony and cross-examination took place after he failed to appear in court on Monday.
A source tells ET that the judge, Justice Timothy Fancourt, was "surprised" by his absence, as he requested that the duke be present for the first day as the first witness should there be time for testimony.
"Prince Harry did not show up for the first day he was expected to testify at the court proceeding against the Mirror Newspaper group this morning," the source said. "His lawyer, David Sherborne, told the court that Prince Harry had flown overnight to London after celebrating Princess Lilibet’s birthday."
According to the source, Justice Fancourt expressed his displeasure with the royal's failure to show up as a witness saying, "I'm a little surprised that the first witness is not going to be available today."
Harry's team had been instructed that the duke should be present in the event he'd have to take the stand.
Justice Fancourt added, "That's why I directed the the first witness should be available."
Sherborne explained that the Duke of Sussex was attending Tuesday to give evidence. Sherborne explained that the duke flew yesterday from Los Angeles as he was attending his daughter's birthday -- before being interrupted by the judge who expressed his displeasure.
Sherborne replied that Harry was "in a different category than the other three claimants because of his travel arrangements and security arrangements."
As for the support of his family during his legal proceedings, ET has learned that Prince Harry is not expected to see his father, King Charles III, who has been in Romania.