Prince Harry feared members of the armed forces and military veterans were “more susceptible to suicide” following a Mail on Sunday article which claimed Harry had turned his back on the British military.
His fears were set out in a legal document as part of his claim against the newspaper as the Duke of Sussex turned to the courts to set the record straight.
The newspaper ran a story on 25 October in which it claimed Harry had not been in touch with the Royal Marines since he left his honorary role as Captain General at the end of March last year.
The role was handed back when Harry and Meghan left their roles as senior Royals and moved to the United States.
The Mail on Sunday article alleged that the Duke had “snubbed” the Marines by failing to keep in contact with them and ignoring a letter from Lord Dannatt, the former Head of the Army, who urged Harry to give more support to Britain’s military and veteran community.
The Prince’s lawyers argue that his “sincere ambition is to continue to help current and former military personnel by using his reputation and the platform he has as a result of his military service” and the effect of the story did “seriously hamper his ability” to do so.
As a result, Harry claims that the Mail on Sunday article diminished his “credibility in the eyes of such personnel” and it risked making them “less likely to seek the help being offered.”
“The Claimant [Harry] reasonably fears that this will in turn have devastating effects upon such individuals, including leaving them more susceptible to suicide.”
In the legal response from Harry’s lawyers, it is claimed that the newspaper’s Royal Editor only emailed the Prince’s team about the story at 9:11pm on the Saturday evening before publication.
It was, said Harry’s team, “fewer than three hours” before the first version of the story was published on the Mail Online and it is “obvious that he was not given…any effective opportunity to respond at all to, and to defend himself against, the very serious allegations”.
Prince Harry completed two tours of Afghanistan with the British Army and was handed the honorary role of Captain General of the Royal Marines from his grandfather, Prince Philip. Harry had to relinquish the role when he departed from the Royal Family last year. Last month, the Mail on Sunday printed an apology saying: “We now understand that Harry has been in contact in a private capacity with individuals in the military including in the Royal Marines to offer informal support since March”. “We apologise to Prince Harry and have made a donation to the Invictus Games Foundation.” The Mail on Sunday is hoping that will end the legal proceedings but Prince Harry’s legal team still wants the opportunity to make a statement in open court.