Prince Harry alleges The Sun and the Daily Mirror illegally accessed his voicemail messages. (AP: Dominic Lipinski)
The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, is suing the owners of two British tabloids in relation to alleged phone hacking.
- Prince Harry is suing the owners of The Sun and the Daily Mirror, claiming his voicemail messages were illegally accessed
- It follows separate legal action by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, who is suing the Mail on Sunday for the publication of a private letter to her father.
- The Sun hit back in an editorial on Thursday, saying Prince Harry’s “war on the press is unhinged”
Buckingham Palace has confirmed Prince Harry is suing the owners of The Sun and the Daily Mirror, claiming his voicemail messages were illegally accessed.
At this stage it not known when the messages were allegedly intercepted, and if it relates to the phone-hacking scandal that rocked British media in the early 2000s.
“We can confirm that a claim has been issued by the Duke of Sussex,” News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun daily and the now-defunct News of the World, said in a statement.
“We have no further comment to make at the current time.”
This legal action is separate to that launched by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, who is suing the Mail on Sunday for the publication of a private letter to her father.
Prince Harry has been extremely critical of the tabloid press in recent weeks, arguing they have launched a ruthless campaign against his wife, likening it to the treatment meted out to his mother, Princes Diana, before her death in 1997.
“My deepest fear is history repeating itself,” he said.
“My wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences — a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year.
“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious.”
Prince Harry has previously criticised the “racial undertones of comment pieces” about Meghan. (AP: Henk Kruger)
A source at Daily Mirror publishers Reach told AFP they were aware proceedings had been issued but they had not yet received them.
Britain’s domestic Press Association (PA) news agency said a royal source confirmed the claims were “regarding the illegal interception of voicemail messages”.
Sky News television carried the same confirmation.
‘War on press unhinged’
Prince Harry’s stinging criticism of the media came after the Duke and Duchess wrapped up a tour of southern Africa on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II — which was broadly well-received in the British press.
He said positive coverage of the trip, “exposes the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified [Meghan] almost daily”.
“I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long.”
The Duke and Duchess’s tour of southern Africa was broadly well-received in the British press. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP)
Prince Harry has previously criticised the “racial undertones of comment pieces” about Meghan, a mixed-race US actress whom he married last year.
But commentators have wondered whether Prince Harry went solo or consulted with more senior royals such as the Queen and his father, Prince Charles, before penning this week’s outburst.
Royal biographer Penny Junor claimed Prince Harry’s highly personal statement was “probably very ill-judged” and would make his relationship with the press “quite awkward” in future.
While there have been some negative stories about the Duchess, the author did not believe there had been a “ruthless campaign to down Meghan”.
She told PA Prince Harry “might regret … poking the bear” with his “very over-emotional outburst”.
The Sun, in its editorial on Thursday, hit back at the Prince and his “self-pitying petulance”.
“Harry’s war on the press is unhinged. The Queen should have a word before he does the royals even more lasting damage,” the paper said.
“We will call out their hypocrisy when merited. And stories about Meghan’s controversial family are justified.
“Criticism is not ‘bullying’. This precious pair simply need a thicker skin.”
The hacking scandal that ended News of the World
The phone hacking scandal first blew up in 2006, when stories in the News of the World about Harry’s brother Prince William were found to have come from voicemail interception targeting his aides.
It then resurfaced in 2011, with allegations of hacking operations that went wider than the royals, to celebrities and murder victims.
The phone-hacking scandal eventually brought about the demise of the News of the World tabloid. (Reuters: Luke MacGregor)
It sparked the closure of the News of the World, the Sunday tabloid which had been Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper.
The scandal triggered a mammoth police investigation, a judge-led inquiry and criminal charges that gripped Britain for the next few years.
Hacked Off, which campaigns for tighter press regulation, said Prince Harry’s move, “shows how much more of the phone-hacking scandal may yet reach the public domain”.