Battle Royale: Prince Harry to take the stand in historic lawsuit showdown against the media

Jun 05, 2023
Prince Harry takes on the media in a landmark lawsuit. Source: Getty

In a rare and historic move, Prince Harry is preparing to enter uncharted territory for the British Royal family: the courtroom witness box.

Breaking a tradition that has spanned over a century, the Duke of Sussex is opening a new chapter in his royal saga by setting the stage for a battle royale that could reshape the relationship between the monarchy and the media.

The 38-year-old is scheduled to appear in London’s High Court on Tuesday, June 6, to testify in his first of five pending legal cases against the publishers of different British tabloids.

He will be the first member of the royal family to do so since Prince Albert Edward in the late 19th century.

Harry is suing three of Britain’s biggest tabloid newspapers on the grounds that the journalists employed have committed unlawful acts, such as phone hacking, to snoop into his life and invade his privacy.

In court documents, the Duke described his relationship with the press as “uneasy” and claimed the British Press’ “vicious, persistent attacks” on his wife, which allegedly include racist articles, are the reason why the couple stepped down from their royal roles and fled to the US.

Managing partner for legal PR firm Maltin PR, Tim Maltin says Harry’s in-person appearance for the hacking trial is a risky move, as he is likely to face tough questioning, unlike any previous royal interviews he’s done in the past.

“This isn’t like taking questions from Oprah Winfrey in a celebrity interview,” Maltin said.

“It is a hostile encounter with a highly skilled cross-examiner armed with a battery of techniques to undermine your credibility. Giving evidence is daunting … and cross-examination is far more often traumatic than cathartic.”

It is understood Harry, who quit his role as a working royal alongside his wife Meghan Markle back in 2020, is allegedly pursuing the legal cases against the wishes of his father, King Charles III.

Back in April, Harry had filed court documents claiming the Royal Family wished to avoid taking things to court to prevent the possibility of testifying about matters which may embarrass them.

This isn’t the first time the Duke has spoken about his family’s wish to remain silent regarding his tabloid issues.

Earlier this year, Harry claimed that the Royal Family motto was to “never complain, never explain” and accused Buckingham Palace of “planting” stories about him and his wife to the press.

“They will feed or have a conversation with the correspondent and that correspondent will be spoon-fed information and write the story,” Harry said.

“At the bottom of [a story], they will say that they’ve reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment. But the whole story is Buckingham Palace commenting.”

Harry’s latest media legal battle follows that of his wife’s, who last year, was paid $1.80 (£1) by British tabloid newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, for damages caused by the invasion of her privacy after publishing a private letter she had sent to her father, Thomas Markle.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up