Prince Harry has stated that his conflicts with the tabloid press put him at risk from a public that had turned against him. In his statement, he labelled their behaviour “utterly vile” and “disgusting, immoral and a complete abuse of power” and accused the media of “brainwashing” the public. Harry has the money and the resolve to go toe-to-toe with the newspapers and he is ready to break the taboo of a royal in the witness box. He warns that an out-of-control media is creating a “stalemate society, where they can enrage the public over the most mundane and petty things, to distract from the critical issues for our country and communities”. The hacking case against News Group Newspapers hits all of Harry’s buttons as the claims are linked to his loss of his mother, his sense of grievance towards his brother, his outrage at press behaviour, fears for his family’s safety and his disappointment in his father for wanting to keep the tabloids “onside”.
The court case against News Group Newspapers has already produced an extraordinary barrage of claims and revelations. The most headline-grabbing revelation was that Prince William had privately reached a settlement with the publishers of the Sun and the former News of the World. Prince Harry’s lawyers point to evidence for what he called a “secret agreement” between royal officials and the newspaper group.
From sources close to Prince William, any settlement over hacking should be seen not as a secretive deal, but as a practical, private resolution of a claim, in a way that’s often encouraged by the legal system to avoid unnecessary court cases. Prince William has a good relationship with the press, and he had helped unearth the risk of hacking as far back as 2005.
There’s a mood of brotherly distrust. Royal commentator Tina Brown told Andrew Marr on LBC: “They are totally estranged. I do not think there will be any contact between them at the Coronation. I think that their relationship right now is on absolute ice.”
This court hearing also threw a very different light on how the Palace dealt with the tabloid press, in this case News Group Newspapers, and the power relationship between them. Any expectation of deference was blown away by the publication of some passive-aggressive emails, showing the Palace as increasingly frustrated by a lack of reply from the newspaper group.
Prince Harry believes that the press barons are creating a “stalemate society, where they can enrage the public over the most mundane and petty things, to distract from the critical issues for our country and communities”. He is ready to give evidence in person in court, and he warns that an out-of-control media is “brainwashing” the public. He is coming to London to support his father and is ready to go the distance.