Prince Harry is back in the UK just weeks after he attended the coronation of his father, King Charles. This time, it wasn’t a grand, extraordinary ceremony that served as the purpose for his visit, but rather a courtroom, where the prince is suing two British tabloids for allegedly hacking his phone and stealing his voicemails.
On Wednesday, Harry appeared in the High Court in London to testify. Some of the material includes articles about his ex-girlfriend which Harry claims were untrue. However, he also admitted during the trial that he had been unfaithful.
Back in October 2019, Prince Harry sued two British tabloids – The Sun and the Daily Mirror – for allegedly hacking his phone and stealing his voicemails.
The claims against the newspapers were filed in the High Court of Justice on Harry’s behalf, involving “illegal interception of voicemail messages,” Buckingham Palace confirmed. At the time, the palace didn’t provide any further details “given the particulars of the claims are not yet public.”
Harry criticized the “British tabloid press” for engaging in a “ruthless campaign” to smear his wife, Meghan Markle, likening her treatment to that his mother, Princess Diana, had to ensure while trying to escape the paparazzi.
Harry’s suing the Mirror Group Newspapers
In the ongoing case – one of four that Harry is currently pursuing in the High Court against British newspapers – Harry, as well as more than 100 other celebrities, including the estate of the late George Michael, are suing the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for alleged misuse of private information between 1991 and 2011. It includes phone hacking and intercepting voicemails.
They claim that journalists from the media groups or private investigators commissioned by the MGN carried out phone hacking on an “industrial scale, obtaining private details by deceptions.” Moreover, the claimants’ lawyers allege that senior editors and executives knew about it – and approved it.
In Harry’s case, he claims 140 published stories to have appeared in the MGN papers were the result of unlawful behavior. The trial is concerned with just 33 of those.
In a witness statement released on June 6, Harry said the articles published about him and his family played a destructive role in his childhood and even provoked paranoia.
“As a teenager and in my early 20s, I ended up feeling as though I was playing up to a lot of the headlines and stereotypes that [the tabloid press] wanted to pin on me mainly because I thought that, if they are printing this rubbish about me and people were believing it, I may as well ‘do the crime,’ so to speak,” Harry said in the statement.
“It was a downward spiral, whereby the tabloids would constantly try and coax me, a ‘damaged’ young man, into doing something stupid that would make a good story and sell lots of newspapers.”
The Duke continued: “Looking back on it now, such behavior on their part is utterly vile.”
The first royal on the witness stand since 1891
Harry’s lawyers said that the intrusion made by MGN led to the breakdown of his long-term relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Chelsey Davy. Moreover, they claimed that the media group had planted “the seeds of discord” regarding the Duke’s relationship with his brother, Prince William.
The Mirror Group Newspapers unreservedly apologized, adding that Harry was entitled to compensation. At the same time, though, they denied any and all unlawful activity, including phone hacking.
While Harry is suing for the alleged unlawful activities, his lawyers proclaimed that he didn’t do it because of “some vendetta against the press.”
Prince Harry has found himself in the spotlight for many years, not only due to his high-profile exit from royal life but also as a result of the various claims he and Meghan Markle have leveled against the Royal Family. Said claims started with their Oprah Winfrey interview in 2021. Via interviews, the couple’s Netflix series, and Harry’s tell-all memoir Spare, the couple have made many controversial allegations against the Firm since.
When Harry testified at the High Court in London on Tuesday, he became the first British royal to appear in the witness box since the 1800s, when Edward VII testified as a witness in a divorce case in 1871.
In 1891, Edward returned to the witness stand in what was known as The Baccarat Scandal, involving a card game. Edward – the son of Queen Victoria – was the Prince of Wales at the time. According to The Guardian, the then-prince was “grilled” during the trial.
Edward ultimately won the case, though it was said to have ruined his reputation.
“Though it only lasted 20 minutes, the examination of the prince evidently wearied him exceedingly and made him extremely nervous. He kept changing his position and did not seem able to keep his hands still,” The Guardian’s report stated.
Harry says the media caused a breakup with Chelsy Davy
It took a great many years before a royal would appear in court again when Princess Anne pleaded guilty to an offense under the Dangerous Dogs Act in 2002.
So why is it that royals, in particular, aren’t too keen on involving themselves in court cases? Well, according to senior comms adviser and former editor of The Sun David Yelland, it’s because they can’t control the narrative surrounding them.
“These cases are often a case of mutually assured destruction. I don’t think anyone will get out looking great,” Yelland told Reuters.
On Wednesday, Harry entered the High Court to testify and spoke about his ex-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy. The day before, in a written statement, the Duke said that he felt their relationship was “always set to be doomed” because of “the prying eyes of the tabloids.”
“It was just that feeling of being under surveillance all the time,” the 38-year-old wrote. “I believe Chelsy found this even more difficult to deal with when she lived in England … everyone has a limit as to what they can endure,” Harry said as per The New York Times.
So who is Chelsy Davy? Born and raised in Zimbabwe, she left with her parents at age 14 and moved to England. Her father was a millionaire safari operator; her mother was a former model.
Who is Harry’s ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy?
Davy attended Cheltenham College and later boarding school at Stowe. As per Yahoo, around that time, she met Prince Harry for the first time at the Berkshire Polo Club.
Davy continued to study philosophy, economics, and politics at the University of Cape Town. She later got her postgraduate degree in law at the University of Leeds.
While Chelsy was studying in Cape Town, Harry invited her to a BBQ so the two could better get to know each other. She then accompanied Harry on a trip to Botswana, where the two kissed for the first time.
In his book Spare, Harry wrote that Davy, at the time, knew “less than nothing” about his family. That, alongside the fact that she “seemed wholly unconcerned with appearance,” was something positive in his eyes.
“Unlike so many girls I met, she wasn’t visibly fitting herself for a crown the moment she shook my hand… Not only was she uninterested in my title, but she also seemed bored by it,” Harry wrote.
But even though Harry felt Chelsy could have been ‘the one’, the coverage from the press made them anxious. The prince confessed he worried that the media “would “cost me another person I cared about.”
Though Harry and Chelsy’s undoubtedly enjoyed a good run together, there was controversy behind the scenes. In his 55-page submission to the High Court, Harry admitted to having flirted with another woman when he was still dating Chelsy.
Harry admits to flirting with another woman while together with Chelsy Davy
He says he was “immature” and made a “stupid decision” after “allegations that I had been flirting with a brunette at the party.” The woman’s identity was not discussed in the courtroom.
“I hadn’t really thought about my actions, and I had made a stupid decision,” Harry said as per The Sun. “It was a challenging period for me.”
Further details of Harry and Chelsy’s relationship were revealed. The articles written were, of course, front and center of the focus. In one article titled Chelsy Is Not Happy, the reporter claimed that Davy had become furious when finding out Harry had visited a lap-dancing club in 2006.
The article read that Chelsy “let rip in a string of phone calls,” and a “highly placed source” claimed she had gone “berserk.”
Harry spoke of the article: “It said she slammed the phone down because she was too angry and then called back to scream at me for half an hour.”
However, the Duke insisted that Chelsea wasn’t angry about the article.
“To the best of my recollection, I don’t think Chelsy did go mad about me going there. We did speak about it over the phone, but I promised her that I hadn’t had a lap dance and stayed with the three other cadets that had girlfriends,” Harry added.
Now, some may argue that flirting with another person in a relationship isn’t technically cheating. For others, however, it is.
Is flirting really cheating?
There are many different takes on the subject; even relationship and marriage counselors don’t always agree on the matter.
Renowned clinical professional counselor and certified relationship therapist Shlomo Slatkin tells Cosmopolitan that while flirting may technically not be cheating, it could be viewed as a breach of fidelity because you are showing interest in someone other than your partner.
“The very thought of looking outside of the relationship and acting on it, even mildly, can be viewed by your partner as hurtful. It’s also a slippery slope that you may not be able to stop if it progresses beyond flirting,” he said.
Certified counselor Dr.Sophie Ried added: “I think the biggest misconception is that cheating has to be physical— that’s not the case. It can be emotional, and it can be flirting.”
Licensed family therapist Christie Tcharkhoutian said: “I think the biggest misconception is that cheating has to be physical— that’s not the case. It can be emotional, and it can be flirting… If you don’t ask yourself the deeper questions, flirting may become a gateway drug to cheating down the line.”
Harry and Chelsy Davy dated on and off for some years. The British tabloids heavily covered their time together, before the couple split up for good in 2011. Later that year, they met at Prince William and Princess Kate’s wedding, which was tough for Harry.
“I also felt a certain way about the hungry-looking men trailing after her, circling her, nagging her to dance. Jealousy got the better of me that night, and I told her so, which made me feel worse. And a bit pathetic,” the Duke wrote in Spare.
Despite their separation, Harry and Chelsy remained good friends.
Davy felt media scrutiny was “crazy, scary, and uncomfortable”
She attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018, as well as Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank. In 2022, she tied the knot with Sam Cutmore-Scott, and the couple have a son together, Leo.
Interestingly, it wasn’t only Harry who had a problem with the tabloids and attention during the years he was dating Davy. Speaking with The Times in 2017, Chelsy herself said the coverage she received was “horrible” and “crazy, scary, and uncomfortable.”
In cross-examination on Tuesday, Harry also spoke about his teenage years and his struggles in school. At Eton, he was afraid of being kicked out after the newspaper wrote that he was an “irresponsible drug taker” and labeled a “cheat” and “thick.”
“I thought that… I may as well ‘do the crime’, so to speak,” Harry said. “Eton had a zero drugs policy in place, and I was extremely worried I was going to be expelled.”
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