What We Learned From Prince Harry’s First Day in Court

The last time a royal was cross-examined in a British courtroom is believed to have been 1891, but that does not appear to be fazing Harry. He kept his cool and his focus, and handled tough questions with poise.

“Would it be right to say you have a longstanding hostility toward the press because of its intrusion into your life?” he was asked at one point early in the hearing. “Yes, that is correct,” Prince Harry replied. Despite intense grilling from the Mirror Group’s lawyer, Andrew Green, Harry came across as soft-spoken, measured, precise and unwilling to be drawn into speculation. At one point he looked toward the judge, intensity clear on his face and in his voice, as he spoke of the distress these stories had caused.

In his witness statement, Harry complained that royal family members are cast in preordained roles by the tabloids. “You’re then either the ‘playboy prince’, the ‘failure,’ the ‘drop out’ or, in my case, the ‘thicko,’ the ‘cheat,’ the ‘underage drinker,’ ‘irresponsible drug taker,’ the list goes on,” he wrote.

This persona came to overshadow his life, he said. Whenever he entered a room, he “was facing judgments and opinions based on what had been reported about me, true or not.” When he was younger, he said, he “expected people to be thinking, ‘He’s obviously going to fail this test, because he’s a thicko.’”

Even when the news was positive, such as when he passed a military assessment, there was a sting in the tale. “It feels like the tabloids were looking to find any way to build me up and then knock me down at every chance they had.” Press intrusion, he said, was “the main factor” for the end of his relationship with Chelsy Davy, a former girlfriend. More recently, he said, he and his wife, Meghan, have “been subjected to a barrage of horrific personal attacks.”

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