Prince Harry and William’s relationship started to ‘erode’ during phone hackings as it ‘sowed mistrust between them’

5 June 2023, 22:15 | Updated: 5 June 2023, 23:04

The phone hackings sowed mistrust between the brothers, Prince Harry's lawyer has claimed.
The phone hackings sowed mistrust between the brothers, Prince Harry's lawyer has claimed. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

The relationship between Prince Harry and Prince William first started to “erode” during illegal phone hackings, Harry’s lawyer suggested to High Court today.

David Sherborne claimed in court that a “mistrust” was first planted between Prince Harry and Prince William as early on as 2003, the same time Mirror Group Newspapers published a story about the two having an alleged disagreement.

The story was published in December that year by The People and centred on a reported dispute between the two about whether they should meet former royal butler Paul Burrell, who they had publicly accused of betraying their mother.

It also claimed the pair were at "loggerheads" over the incident, while Harry was on a year abroad at the time.

Mr Sherborne said: “Even at this very early formative stage the seeds of discord between these two brothers are starting to be sown.

“Brothers can sometimes disagree but once it is made public in this way and their inside feelings revealed in the way that they are, trust begins to be eroded. One can see how the mistrust can set in from an early age, exactly because of this type of activity.”

The claims from Mr Sherborne were produced during today’s trial between the Duke of Sussex and Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) – although the Duke did not show up to court for the first day of the trial.

Harry is suing MGN for damages over alleged unlawful information gathering.

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Harry's lawyer suggested in court that the hackings 'sowed mistrust' between the pair.
Harry's lawyer suggested in court that the hackings 'sowed mistrust' between the pair. Picture: Getty
The Duke was rebuked by the judge for failing to show on the first day of the trial.
The Duke was rebuked by the judge for failing to show on the first day of the trial. Picture: Alamy

Read more: 'No part of Prince Harry's life was safe': Press intrusion led to split with Chelsy Davy, hacking trial hears

Read more: Legal consultant working on Prince Harry phone-hacking trial speaks to James O'Brien

Read more: Princes William and Harry had a secret meeting with Diana's butler before Meghan engagement

This lawsuit is one of six cases initiated by Harry against the British media and government. In March, he appeared at the High Court for a preliminary hearing regarding his separate claim against the Daily Mail's publisher.

The Duke alleges in this trial that he fell victim to voicemail hacking, "blagging," and inquiries conducted by private investigators.

He claims that approximately 140 articles published between 1996 and 2010 were based on information obtained through unlawful means. Thirty-three of these articles, with headlines such as "Harry's cocaine, Ecstasy and GHB parties," "Harry is a Chelsy fan," "Harry's girl 'to dump him'," and "He just loves boozing & army. She is fed up & is heading home," have been selected for consideration during the trial.

Andrew Green, KC, representing MGN, told the court that numerous stories published about the prince were derived from information disclosed by or on behalf of royal households or members of the royal family.

Since quitting as a working member of the royal family, Harry, 38, currently lives in California with his wife, Meghan Markle, 41, and their children, four-year-old Archie and two-year-old Lilibet, who celebrated her second birthday on Sunday.

Harry's testimony marks the first instance in over a century of a senior royal providing evidence in court, since the Baccarat scandal of 1890 when a defamation case was brought forth by a card player accused of cheating the Prince of Wales, who later ascended to the throne as Edward VII.

The trial is being conducted at the Rolls Building, inaugurated by the late Queen in 2011.

MGN maintains that its board members at the time had no knowledge of such activities and argues that there is either no evidence or insufficient evidence of voicemail interception in any of the four claims.

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