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No matter how trial goes, we are doomed to hear more about Harry and Meghan for years | Adam Boulton

No matter how trial goes, we are doomed to hear more about Harry and Meghan for years | Adam Boulton

9 Haziran 2023 11:30
No matter how trial goes, we are doomed to hear more about Harry and Meghan for years | Adam Boulton



It is difficult not to feel sorry for Prince Harry when he talks about the “devastating impact” he believes years of intense press coverage have had on him and Meghan.

As he acknowledges in his written statement to the court case he has brought against Mirror Group Newspapers, he was caught up in a vicious circle in which he became the flawed person the tabloids were writing about.

He itemises the “stereotypes that they wanted to pin” on him to sell “as many newspapers as possible”, especially as the “spare” to the heir.

As it happened: Prince Harry’s second day in court

He said he was either “playboy prince, the failure, the dropout, the thicko, the cheat, the underage drinker, the irresponsible drug taker” and blamed them for his misbehaviour: “I thought that if they are printing this rubbish about me and people are believing it, I may as well ‘do the crime’, so to speak. It was a downward spiral…”

There is something climactic about Harry‘s lawsuits against the tabloid press over old grudges and hurts. As well as the case against the Mirror group, he has also launched suits against Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers and Lord Rothermere’s Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

It is a turning point. He is now 38 years old, a father of two and based in California with his American wife, a former TV actress after severing ties with the Royal Family.

Harry must now decide what he wants to do with the rest of his life and how the couple plan to go on funding their lifestyle, especially as the prince is no longer in receipt of funds from the UK taxpayer or, automatically, from his father King Charles.

Much will depend on how the current court trials turn out. If the judge rules in Harry’s favour in the Mirror case, it will likely be a massive vindication for the prince. The Mirror have already paid out £100m in settlement of other hacking cases.


In not agreeing to a deal and taking the expensive risk of going to court, Harry is championing hundreds who believe they were victims of illegal intrusion by the papers. If victorious, he is likely to be awarded millions in damages and coverage of his considerable legal costs. He will feel emboldened to pursue the private actions against the other media groups.

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What was Harry asked on day two?

In nine hours of giving evidence, however, Prince Harry appeared to struggle in producing specific news stories which could only have been acquired by illegal activity.

Under cross-examination, he conceded as much to MGN’s barrister Andrew Green KC. Although he thinks hacking is the most obvious explanation for the reports, a verdict of “Not Proven” is not an option at the Old Bailey, making a prediction of the ruling difficult.

If the ruling goes against him, the environment at home is only likely to get more hostile for Harry in the land of his birth. The first senior royal to go to trial for 130 years, he pinned a fresh target on his back by telling the court: “Our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government – both of which I believe are at rock bottom.”

Meanwhile, on its front page the Daily Mail blared: “If Harry carries on his facile assault on our elected government, Charles must banish him to private life.”

Such banishment is impossible – King Charles has no such power. Harry and Meghan have established themselves independently in the United States and are earning their own money by trading on who they are.

Read more:How Prince Harry left visibly emotional by day of tense exchanges about ex-girlfriendsEx-Mirror journalist denies ‘closing her eyes’ to alleged unlawful activitiesWho is Jane Kerr? Former Mirror royal editor giving evidence

What’s next for Harry and Meghan?

There is no chance that Meghan, Harry, Archie and Lilibet will come back together to live in the UK. The couple’s chances of returning to the royal fold, even if they wanted to, are zero. What they have to sell is themselves.

Sources close to Harry – precisely the sort of anonymous attribution he complains of in negative stories about him – have vouched that the couple now plan to move away from self-exposing media activity and turn towards producing material instead.

Harry has reportedly shelved plans for a second volume of his autobiography. He donated nearly £2m of his earnings to charity: Sentebale, the couple’s foundation for children in southern Africa, and Wellchild, the UK charity for sick children. The film and television rights to Spare have not yet been sold. If there are dramatisations of Harry’s account of his life, they would be bound to reopen wounds.

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Harry and Meghan have registered Archewell, as what Americans call “their content creation label”. They have multimillion-dollar deals with Spotify for podcasts and Netflix for TV content. Their documentary about themselves garnered 81.5 million views. Content not featuring them has so far been scant.

Much of Harry and Meghan’s future public activities are set to be around Archewell’s charitable arm. The Archewell Foundation, which raised $13m (£10m) last year from donors, has so far dispensed only £3m to causes such as COVID vaccines and Ukrainian and Afghan refugees.

Other donations include £10,000 to get a novel, A Colourful View From The Top, into the library of every secondary school in Britain. The book features inspirational stories about successful people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The “key pillars” for the foundation’s activity are “building a better online world, restoring trust in information, and uplifting communities”. Given the aims of that second pillar, there must be a question whether the Foundation will end up bearing some of the costs of Harry’s crusade against the British tabloids.

It appears that it grates with Harry that he cannot escape how he was born. It is also what defines him, whether in or out of the working Royal Family. It may be a partnership forged in Hell for him, but media attention maintains his high profile, which is how he makes a living.

Harry has already said it will be an “injustice” if he loses his attacks on the tabloids. That would only fire up his sense of grievance. Whether we feel sorry for them or not, we are doomed to go on hearing more about Harry and Meghan for years to come.

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