A view from court as Prince Harry takes aim at 'vile behaviour' of tabloid press

Prince Harry arriving at the High Court on Tuesday. Credit: AP

Courtrooms are usually hushed and restrained environments, but not Court 15 of the Royal Courts of Justice this morning. 

As the packed press benches awaited Prince Harry’s arrival - the atmosphere was charged.

Some journalists cribbed-up by speed-reading his memoir, Spare, as others furiously typed and tweeted from their phones and laptops. 

To see one of the world’s most famous figures standing in the witness box, quietly stating his name “Prince Harry” then swearing an oath on the bible before being cross examined was not only a moment in history.

It was a moment of deep personal significance for a man who says years of “frenzied” press intrusion since he was a child was “suffocating” leading to his “paranoia and depression”. 

Court artist sketch of the Duke of Sussex with his counsel David Sherborne (right) giving evidence at the High Court. Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

Harry says in his witness statement that his decision to “reluctantly” step back from his full-time royal role was in large part “due to the constant intrusion, inciting of hatred and harassment by the tabloid press into every aspect of our private lives, which had a devastating impact on our mental health and wellbeing."

"We were also very concerned for the security and safety of our son,” he added.

The Duke of Sussex seemed hesitant and nervous in the witness box as he was cross-examined about the newspaper articles allegedly sourced from unlawful activities. 

The barrister repeatedly asking him how they could have caused him distress if he couldn’t recall reading them at the time. 

But the words of his witness statement are bold. He writes he’s determined to “hold those responsible… accountable for their vile and entirely unjustified behaviour.”

And I find it striking that he singles out former Mirror Editor Piers Morgan for criticism.

He says the thought of Mr Morgan “and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother’s private and sensitive messages (in the same way as they have me)" and then having given her a "nightmare time" three months prior to her death in Paris, "makes me feel physically sick”.

He also says he and his wife have been subjected to a “barrage of horrific personal attacks and intimidation from Piers Morgan”.

Accusing him, and other senior figures at the newspaper group, of “cowardice” for not coming to court to give evidence. 

“Their cowardice speaks volumes, and I don’t understand how they are allowed to hide.”

He told the court that he has a responsibility to “expose the criminal activity” of “powerful media companies who masquerade as journalists”.

In one particularly emotive line he writes: “How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness.”

It’s clear Prince Harry is determined to be that someone. 

Listen to the latest Royal news listen to our podcast, The Royal Rota...