Prince Harry today told a hacking case how he feared rumours about Major James Hewitt ‘being my biological father’ could have ‘ousted’ him from the Royal Family. The Duke of Sussex, 38, said he was 18 when he first read a newspaper story reporting rumours about his parentage, before later realising the timeline did not fit. The duke said in a witness statement given to the High Court: ‘Numerous newspapers had reported a rumour that my biological father was James Hewitt, a man my mother had a relationship with after I was born.
‘At the time of this article and others similar to it, I wasn’t actually aware that my mother hadn’t met Major Hewitt until after I was born.’ Harry added that he only learned the timeline did not work until around 2014, when he was around 30. The duke continued: ‘At the time, when I was 18 years old and had lost my mother just six years earlier, stories such as this felt very damaging and very real to me. They were hurtful, mean and cruel. I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories.’
He added: ‘Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the Royal Family?’ The fifth in line to the throne has become the first senior royal to give evidence in one of the monarch’s courts in 132 years, as he sues the Mirror’s publisher for alleged hacking, which it denies. His bombshell remarks were made in a written witness statement, which he had prepared in advance. Today, he swore on oath it was true.
The duke, dressed in a navy blue suit with a white shirt and purple tie, arrived in a black Range Rover at the Royal Courts of Justice’s modern wing, the Rolls Building. He stepped into the Court 15 witness box at 10.28am. In an astonishing trashing of the convention that royals avoid meddling in politics, Harry raged about the ‘state of our Press and our Government – both of which I believe are at rock bottom’. And in one of his most outspoken attacks on the British Press yet, Harry demanded: ‘How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness?’
The prince proclaimed he was motivated by wanting to ‘save journalism as a profession’. During cross-examination today, Andrew Green KC, for MGN, asked Harry if he had meant ‘blood on their hands’ in relation to a specific article, and quizzed him on what he meant by it. Harry said: ‘Some of the editors and journalists that are responsible for causing a lot of pain, upset and in some cases, speaking personally, death.’ He then said his reference to ‘blood on their hands’ was ‘more broadly towards the Press’ in general, adding: ‘I haven’t named the journalists in that particular paragraph.’
An usher handed him a Bible and asked him to hold it in a raised hand. She asked him to repeat after her: ‘I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’ Harry stared straight ahead and repeated the phrase. He was then asked by his barrister David Sherborne to confirm he would like to be referred to as Prince Harry. He asked him to view his 55-page witness statement, check his signature and confirm its truthfulness. The duke’s statement was then released to the public. It is a wide-ranging attack on the Mirror group’s newspapers, the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People, which he claims intruded on his childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
He claims he and his mother Princess Diana were both hacked, along with his family, friends and royal aides. His 25,538-word statement contains five mentions of his wife, Meghan, and 118 mentions of his first serious girlfriend Chelsy Davy. He blames the Press attention for Miss Davy breaking up with him, saying that ultimately she ‘made the decision that a royal life was not for her, which was incredibly upsetting for me at the time’.
The Duke of Sussex jetted in to the UK from California on Monday and looked relaxed and even smiled as he entered the High Court, saying ‘good morning’ to the waiting Press. Yesterday he was criticised by one of Britain’s top judges and accused of wasting court time after missing the first day of his historic case to celebrate his daughter Lilibet’s birthday in Montecito before flying to Britain. Harry and three others are suing the Mirror group claiming the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People newspaper hacked their phones or conducted other illegal activity, which is denied.