The last time a senior royal appeared as a witness at the High Court, the Mirror newspaper didn’t even exist.
The year was 1891, and heir to the throne Prince Edward was called to give evidence during the Royal Baccarat Scandal – a case about cheating at cards.
His mother, Queen Victoria, was angry, embarrassed and certainly not amused.
Of course, Prince Harry’s case isn’t about gambling, but make no mistake, he is taking a huge personal risk.
Such is his mission to change the media landscape, he is prepared to put himself in the witness box, subject to rigorous cross-examination from some of the most challenging and probing lawyers in Britain.
This is a moment he has waited years for, and it couldn’t be more personal. Harry blames the tabloids for damaging his life and ending the life of his mother.
We’ve heard a lot from him in recent months, through his Netflix series, his memoir Spare, and his subsequent television interviews.
Harry’s had a story to sell, but now he has a score to settle.
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Unlike his previous appearances, with well-known, carefully picked interviewers, this will be very different.
There will be nothing comfortable or familiar about the High Court, and Harry will have little control of the questioning or narrative.
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Prince Harry’s case against MGN explained He is attempting to prove that – for two decades – stories were written about him using information that was illegally obtained through phone hacking and voicemail interception, blagging, and the use of private investigators.
These were articles about his private life, his personal life and his professional life. Articles and intrusion which he says caused paranoia, suspicion, and huge bouts of depression.
Questioning will be ‘explosive’
And his evidence will try to show it wasn’t just his phone being hacked, but the phones of those closest to him.
Harry will inevitably draw others into this court case, even if they would privately prefer to keep their names out of a public courtroom.
We already know Prince William settled a hacking case against the publishers of The Sun and the News of the World for a “very large sum”.
But settling has never been on the cards for Prince Harry because he wants his allegations heard in open court.
Image: Harry and Meghan stepped away from royal duties in 2020. Pic: Netflix He wants them heard, and unlike many other alleged victims of phone hacking, he can afford to take his fight as far as he can.
What happens in court will be explosive.
Prince Harry will give evidence under oath, facing a KC who will try to “tear his case to shreds” as one High Court barrister told me privately.
This hacking case is one of three he is fighting against the British press. Two others involving the owners of The Sun and the Daily Mail are still being worked out by the courts.
Queen Victoria reportedly hated her son appearing at the High Court.
The King, who is conveniently out of the country holidaying in Transylvania, once told his son his court cases were a “suicide mission”.
But Harry does things his way, and he’s made it clear taking on the tabloids will be his “life’s work”.
That job is now well under way.