Prince Harry has accused the tabloid press of casting him in the role of a “thicko” and a “cheat”, in his case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).
In a witness statement released as he gave evidence in court, Harry said as a teenager he had played up to headlines, putting him in a “downward spiral”.
Harry also claims his voicemails had been hacked, leaving him feeling he “couldn’t trust anybody”.
He claims journalists unlawfully gathered information, which MGN denies.
By appearing in the witness stand, Harry has become the first senior royal to give evidence in a court of law since Edward VII in 1891.
In his written statement issued as he appeared at London’s High Court, Prince Harry accused the tabloids of casting members of the Royal Family into roles and creating an “alternative and distorted version of me”.
“They then start to edge you towards playing the role or roles that suit them best and which sells as many newspapers as possible, especially if you are the ‘spare’ to the ‘heir'”, he said.
“You’re then either the ‘playboy prince’, the ‘failure’, the ‘drop out’ or, in my case, the ‘thicko’, the ‘cheat’, the ‘underage drinker’, the ‘irresponsible drug taker’…”
The duke also said stories he believes originated from hacking not only caused security concerns, but damaged his relationships.
“I felt that I couldn’t trust anybody, which was an awful feeling for me especially at such a young age,” he said.
His statement is critical of the broader tabloid press, while there are also specific claims levelled against the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People.
In the statement, he also:
- Says the thought of Daily Mirror’s former editor Piers Morgan “and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother’s private and sensitive messages”, made him feel “physically sick”.
- Alleges journalists would illegally obtain information about former girlfriend Chelsy Davy’s flights to the UK to see him
Harry is one of four people bringing claims against the publisher, alongside Coronation Street actors Michael Turner – known professionally as Michael Le Vell – and Nikki Sanderson, as well as Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of the comedian Paul Whitehouse.
The claimants allege unlawful methods were used to obtain information for stories and say senior executives must have known about it and failed to stop it, which MGN denies.