If Prince Harry meant this court docket case to current him as an entitled little princeling, then thus far it’s been a glowing success. His week within the Excessive Courtroom – as a part of a multi-claimant go well with in opposition to Mirror Group Newspapers, alleging phone-hacking and different illegal practices – started with him being chided for non-attendance. He was requested to indicate up yesterday, however was apparently too jet lagged to take action. The decide described this, with some wry understatement, as ‘a bit of shocking’. And issues have solely gone downhill since.
Simply earlier than Prince Harry stepped into the witness field this morning – turning into the primary senior royal to present proof in a trial for the reason that late-Nineteenth century – his 55-page witness assertion was revealed. In it, he condemns not solely the British press, who he has lengthy seen as a menace, but additionally the British authorities. He says each are ‘at all-time low’ – an outrageous political intervention when coming from a member of the royal household. Harry’s skinny pretence, that his circumstances in opposition to varied newspapers (of which this is just one) usually are not some kind of ‘campaign’, evaporated immediately.
This torturous doc, which rakes over dozens of tales Harry believes had been the product of hacking, suggests a person who reads manner an excessive amount of of his personal press. Courting again to his college years, the tales span every thing from him catching glandular fever to his on once more, off once more relationship with Chelsy Davy in his twenties. He accuses the Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the Folks of a ‘systemic’ hacking behavior, with journalists procuring tales by means of his and his nearest and dearest’s voicemails and leaving all of them ‘paranoid’.
Going by the court docket studies, Andrew Inexperienced, Mirror Group Newspapers’ prime KC, has already earned his hefty price after which some. His cross-examination immediately took Harry’s information clippings one after the other, asking for any proof that telephone hacking was the supply of them – all to no avail. Most of the tales, Inexperienced argued, had already been reported elsewhere. Plus, how might Harry make certain the Palace wasn’t the supply of the others? (It’s query, given Harry accused the royal household of leaking in his tell-all memoir, Spare.) When pushed for proof of law-breaking, Harry might solely say, repeatedly, that ‘you’d should ask the journalist’. ‘Are we not within the realms of complete hypothesis?’, requested Inexperienced. Harry, reportedly, started fidgeting. ‘I really feel like we’re doing a exercise’, he joked at one level, as he was handed one other bundle of allegedly felony newsprint.
The case continues, as they are saying. Maybe Harry will humiliate himself to a lesser extent tomorrow. However his cross-examination has already vindicated him on at the least one rating. He actually is paranoid in regards to the press. He blames it for every thing, from his mom’s premature dying to him and his spouse Meghan Markle’s determination to go away the nation in 2020. (He blames Megxit on the ‘fixed intrusion, inciting of hatred and harassment by the tabloid press’, a marketing campaign of hate which exists solely within the couple’s self-victimising imaginations.) Even so, this Excessive Courtroom case has taken Harry’s media blame sport to absurd new heights. He now blames the tabloids for him being bullied at college: he was as soon as known as a ‘pussy’, he says, due to a considerably overwritten Sunday Mirror story about an truly reasonably minor polo damage he had sustained.
Rather more outrageously, he accuses the press of getting blood on its arms. ‘How rather more blood will stain their typing fingers earlier than somebody can put a cease to this insanity’, thunders his witness assertion. ‘Trolls react and mobilise to tales [the media] create. Folks have died in consequence, and folks will proceed to kill themselves by suicide after they can’t see every other manner out.’ In a passage that needs to be seen to be believed, he suggests that every one the tales over time calling him a bit dim ‘might simply’ have price him his life: ‘[A]ny one of many 1000’s of those that I met or was launched to on any given day, might simply have gone “you already know what, you’re an fool. I’ve learn all of the tales about you and now I’m now going to stab you.”’
Harry is entitled to his day in court docket, in fact. What he and his fellow claimants are alleging would quantity to a critical matter if confirmed. (Mirror Group Newspapers has already confessed to at least one occasion of illegal conduct, involving a personal investigator, however denies telephone hacking.) However everyone knows that this campaign was by no means about hard-and-fast criminality. Neither is it about Harry and Meghan’s alleged quest for privateness, given they’ve been wilfully invading their very own privateness for years. (Having suffered by means of Spare, I really feel I do know extra about Harry’s anatomy than I do my very own.)
No, this case and all of the others is about punishing the press for daring to submit the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to stinging criticism – and insisting on reporting the reality reasonably than ‘their reality’. That is additionally about reigniting the marketing campaign for press regulation – which the younger prince explicitly requires in his court docket assertion; nostalgic, maybe, for the times of Crown licensing of newspapers. And that is about what has at all times fuelled the elite’s concern and loathing of the tabloids, which is concern and loathing of tabloid readers – who Harry appears to suppose are only one headline away from occurring a stabbing spree.
Prince Harry’s paranoid campaign in opposition to the media is basically an age-old story replaying itself: of royals, aristocrats and high-society snobs attempting to crush the ‘gutter press’ and the ‘gutter’ individuals who learn it. Which is why this royal assault on the media should be opposed. Press freedom, all these centuries later, stays the scourge of princelings. Lengthy might that proceed.
Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Observe him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_