Prince Harry trial, live: Duke contradicts legal claim about 'two-faced Paul Burrell' in his own memoir

The Duke of Sussex is the first senior royal to testify in court in more than 100 years

·2-min read

Prince Harry has finished the first day of evidence in his case against the publisher of the Daily Mirror over alleged unlawful information gathering.

In what was at times a remarkable testimony, the duke accused the press of having "blood on their hands" and said the tabloids tried to ruin every relationship he was in because they wanted him to be single.

In one key exchange, Harry was accused by Andrew Green KC – representing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) – of making contradictory comments in his memoir Spare, when compared to his witness statement, regarding a disagreement with his brother over whether to meet Paul Burrell, Diana's former butler.

In his witness statement, Harry writes he was "firmly against meeting" Burrell, while his book contains a passage in which he says he wanted to fly home from his gap-year job in the Australian outback to meet him.

Harry says coverage of the dispute sowed "seeds of distrust" between Prince William and himself.

In reference to a story headlined 'Harry is ready to quit Oz' that was published in the Mirror in September 2003 and detailed how the prince was "watching TV and videos", Green put it to Harry that "the information that you are alleging came from voicemail interception or unlawful information-gathering.... in fact came from your minders".

Other exchanges included coverage by MGN’s newspapers of the scandal involving Harry wearing a Nazi costume at a party; the impact of press intrusion on his relationship with Chelsy Davy; and his fears that he would be expelled from Eton College over alleged drug use.

MGN began Tuesday's proceedings by apologising to Harry for an article published in 2004 about the duke's visit to a London nightclub that it accepts was the product of unlawful information gathering. MGN denies all other wrongdoing.

Read all the key updates from Harry's evidence below:

Live updates
  • Emma Mackenzie

    ‘This kind of article seeds distrust between brothers’, says Harry

    Harry has directly accused an article in The People of sowing ‘seeds of distrust’ between him and his brother William.

    The article in question regarded a suggested meeting between the brothers and Paul Burrell, their late mother’s butler.

    In his witness statement Harry wrote about the article: “Both my brother and I had very strong feelings about how indiscreet Paul had proven to be with the way he had sold our mother’s possessions and how he had given numerous interviews about her.

    “We firmly believed that she would have expected some privacy in death, especially from someone she had trusted, and we were so upset at the way he was behaving – I didn’t want to hear his reasons for it.

    “Therefore, our disagreement over to how to handle the situation going forward was not something I wanted splashed across the defendant’s newspapers, and I have no idea how the defendant’s journalists obtained the information within the article.

    “A ‘senior Royal source’ is quoted within the article, reflecting my exact private feelings including that I was “dead against any meeting” and that a meeting would be “pandering to Burrell’s attention-seeking and self-interest”. I also would have used the phrase “two-face s***”, as is reported and believe this could have been lifted directly from a voicemail I had left.”

    “That is how I have always seen him”, Harry said of this description of Burrell.

    “There was indeed a disagreement between the two of you,” Green said, about a meeting with Burrell, but Harry was ‘firmly against’ meeting him, the court heard.

    “Those are the words that I used,” Harry said, adding that he also “certainly left voicemails on my brother’s phone”.

    Green then quoted from a passage in Spare, Harry’s memoir, which indicated that Harry was, in fact, keen to meet Burrell, contrary to the “position in your witness statement”.

    "Mummy’s former butler had penned a tell-all, which actually told nothing. It was merely one man’s self-justifying, self-centring version of events.

    "My mother once called this butler a dear friend, trusted him implicitly. We did too. Now this. He was milking her disappearance for money. It made my blood boil. I wanted to fly home, confront him.

    "I phoned Pa, announced that I was getting on a plane. I’m sure it was the one and only conversation I had with him while I was in Australia. He – and then, in a separate phone call, Willy – talked me out of it," Green read to the court.

    “Now, presumably, you agree that the unequivocally clear account provided in Spare is that you personally wanted to meet with Mr Burrell?” Green asked.

    Harry then pointed out that there was a large gap of time between writing Spare and 2003.

    “Does that mean that the statement in your witness statement is incorrect?” Green asked.

    “I was in the middle of the Australian outback,” Harry replied, adding that in hindsight he wanted to meet Burrell.

    “At that particular point in time, did you want a meeting or did you not want a meeting?” Green asked.

    Harry said that he can’t remember.

  • Emma Mackenzie

    Court has finished for the day

    Today's session has completed and Prince Harry will finish his cross-examination tomorrow, which will be followed by a shorter re-examination by David Sherborne for the claimants.

  • Emma Mackenzie

    Harry brands coverage of safari holiday with Chelsy 'disturbing'

    Green is now questioning Harry over articles published in April 2005 about a safari holiday he took with then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy.

    The barrister for MGN pointed out that the holiday was covered in the Mail on Sunday four days before The People published their article.

    In his witness statement, Harry said “I find the level of detail in this article so disturbing. Chelsy had no interest in being involved in public life, she found the press intrusion as difficult as I did, and it was the main factor in why we decided to end our relationship.

    “I don’t believe she would have been freely chatting to passengers on the plane, she wanted to keep a low profile. The fact those comments are attributed to her like that makes me so angry. From the very beginning we took all possible steps to keep our plans a secret and would not have been telling many people about any gap year plans, or holidays.

    “The Defendant’s journalists even seem to acknowledge this by describing her February trip as “hush-hush” and our trip to South Africa as being in a “hideaway”. If this is the case, how did they know? Reading these articles with the benefit of hindsight, I realise how brazen they were about the information they had managed to get.”

    Green then put forward that Davy had spoken to a passenger on her plane about the holiday, to which Harry said “I don’t believe she ever would have spoken to a passenger on the plane about our relationship.”

    Later, Harry claimed that evidence of unlawful activity had been “hidden or destroyed” by MGN. When Green probed how Harry know this, he answered: “My legal team have the evidence”.

  • Emma Mackenzie

    Chelsy's uncle could be source of claims in Nazi costume articles

    Green has questioned Harry in detail over two articles published in the Daily Mirror surrounding the 2005 scandal after the prince wore a Nazi costume to a party.

    The barrister pointed out that the story of Harry’s costume was initially broken in The Sun, a News Group Title, before the articles in the Mirror were published on 15 January.

    Headlined ‘Harry’s girl to dump him’ and ‘Chelsy is not happy’, the articles detail Chelsy’s alleged reaction to the scandal and of Harry being with another girl at the event.

    In his witness statement, Harry wrote about these articles: “It reported that Chelsy was “furious” and had given me a “tongue-lashing down the phone” following allegations that I had been flirting with a brunette at the party.

    “The article also reports that Chelsy had phoned me “at [my] father’s Highgrove home”. The article contains several quotes from ‘friends’ or other ‘partygoers’, but the details about our telephone communications are not attributed to anyone, so how could the Defendant’s journalists know about this.

    “I don’t remember if Chelsy and I did argue about the party. Given we were based in different countries, a lot of our relationship was conducted over the telephone, so I know I would have spoken to her a lot over this time because it was a challenging period for me, but I don’t recall her reaction.

    “I had been immature, I hadn’t really thought about my actions and I had made a stupid decision – and my mistakes were being played out publicly.

    “By this stage, Chelsy was already extremely guarded about our relationship and our circle of friends who we trusted with information about us had shrank considerably.

    “Every time these kinds of stories were published, there was a strain put on our relationship, we started to distrust everyone around us.

    “In hindsight, knowing the extent to which MGN journalists were targeting us and intercepting our communications, we probably lost friends needlessly, and put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be secretive and deal with problems without support, out of the sense of paranoia that articles like this created.”

    Green noted there were around 250 people at the party and pointed out that there is “nothing unlawful” about journalists speaking to those in attendance to find out information about Harry.

    The barrister also said it was “apparent” that one of the sources in coverage of the incident was Paul Davy, Chelsy’s uncle.

    Harry noted that it would be “convenient” for this to be the source of the story.“Try to focus on the question,” Green replied.“I am totally focussed”, Harry answered.

  • Emma Mackenzie

    Harry ‘at a complete loss’ about how details of Chelsy Davy holiday made public

    The court has heard that Harry is “at a complete loss” about how details of a trip he took to Mozambique and Bazaruto with then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy in 2004.

    The article in question was headlined ‘When Harry met Daddy…the biggest danger to life in Africa’ and appeared in the Daily Mirror.

    In his witness statement, Harry wrote about the article: “I am at a complete loss as to how these details were obtained.

    “As I have said previously, details of my travel plans, including dates I would be flying, were not released by the Palace for security reasons, yet the specific date I would return to Britain was published days in advance.

    “It was also true that I met Chelsy’s family for the first time in Mozambique. The article itself even suggests that the Defendant’s journalists had contacted the Palace to confirm their story and was told by Clarence House that matters of my relationship were “private”.”

    He repeated during cross-examination that he was at a loss as to how these details were found out by journalists.

    Green, for the defendants, asked Harry: “Are you aware there had also been earlier reports in other papers about the holiday you and Ms Davy were taking in Bazaruto?”

    Harry replied: “Yes that doesn’t surprise me.”

    Green also proposed that the information could have come from Paul Davy, Chelsy’s uncle. However, Harry disputed that he was close enough to Chelsy’s family to know these details.

  • Emma Mackenzie

    Queen sent senior staff to help Harry with press intrusion

    Queen Elizabeth sent a senior aide to help Harry on his gap year because of significant press coverage, the court has heard.

    In his witness statement, Harry wrote that the Queen made the decision following a 2003 article headlined ‘Beach Bum Harry’ in the Daily Mirror. He said he “only learnt recently that the Queen had asked one of her Assistant Private Secretaries to fly out to Noosa and take a house down the road from where I was staying, without me knowing".

    He added: “She was concerned about the extent of the coverage of my trip and wanted someone I knew to be nearby, in case I needed support.”

    After this was discussed in cross-examination, Green noted that “Everybody I’m sure has enormous sympathy with the extraordinary degree of press intrusion you suffered throughout your life, but it doesn't necessarily follow from that” all stories were sourced through unlawful means.

    Harry agreed, and added that “it was the unlawful means which make it even worse”.

  • Emma Mackenzie

    Harry 'worried about being expelled' from Eton after drug misuse allegations

    In his witness statement submitted to court earlier today, Harry said a 2002 article headlined ‘Harry’s cocaine and ecstasy parties’ left him “extremely worried” he would be expelled from Eton College.

    His statement reads: “This article, which appeared on the front page of the Daily Mirror, was a follow-up story on the series of stories published by the News of the World.

    “This article takes the story further, and reports that my friends, or those I mixed with, were taking harder drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine and GHB.

    “I think the headline of this article is purposefully misleading as it seems to suggest that the parties referred to were held by or hosted by me, even though the article later reports that I had told my father that I had “only smoked cannabis ‘spliffs’”.

    “What’s notable to me in this article when reading it now are the quotes attributed to my father, including that he was “worried sick” and “hugely relieved” when I told him I had only used cannabis.

    “My father didn’t make any direct comment to the press, a statement was made by the Palace in response to the News of the World story.

    “This was handled by a tight, small team internally, so it is not clear to me where the defendant’s journalists could possibly have obtained these quotes from. The article also reports that “Police began an investigation on the order of Prince Charles”, which I do not believe is true, so it makes me wonder with hindsight if the Defendant’s journalists heard something they were not intended to and got the wrong end of the stick.

    “The article reports that I was now “rarely allowed out without the presence of either [my] brother William, 19, [my] father or trusted friends”, although there’s no explanation of how they learnt this information.

    “There’s also a quote from an unidentified ‘family’ source, that said I realised I had been a “bloody fool” and that I had been “sucked into this set of people in their 20s”. I’m at a loss as to who would have said that. That’s certainly not something I was saying to anyone.

    “This article, along with the NOTW coverage, had a huge impact on my life. Eton had a zero drugs policy in place, and I was extremely worried I was going to be expelled.”

    Harry also explained in his witness statement that “these articles were also written at a time when there had been an agreement between the press and the royal family, following the death of my mother, that my brother and I should be able to go through our education without constant scrutiny and interruption.

    “It seemed to me there was never any let up in the press coverage of every detail of my childhood, by the Defendant’s journalists and others.”

  • Emma Mackenzie

    Prince Harry 'revealed own private information'

    MGN’s barrister – Andrew Green KC – has now asked about an article headlined ‘No Eton trifles for Harry, 18’, which described his 18th birthday plans.

    Harry, Green argued, had revealed these plans himself.“Private information about which you complain in the Daily Mirror article had been revealed by you in an interview and then published by various Sunday papers.

    “Do you still maintain that the Daily Mirror article revealed private information without your consent?”

    “I believe the article was linked to an invoice”, Harry replied.“So what?” asked Green.

    In his witness statement Harry said about this article that it “reported details of the way I celebrated my 18th birthday, which included a low-profile lunch with my father and brother at home and details of the present my uncle had gifted me.

    “As I was turning 18, I was obliged to give an interview which was released to the press and many of the details were repeated in this article, although I am not sure of how much of it is reported here. This was obviously an ideal occasion for anyone listening into my messages to continue to do so in order to discover what additional private information could exclusively be reported.”

  • Emma Mackenzie

    'Kissing disease’ article made me a laughing stock, says Harry

    Andrew Green KC for MGN has questioned Harry over a 2002 article which makes up part of his claim headlined: ‘Harry sick with kissing disease’.

    Green pointed out that the article, which was written when Harry was still at school, included information from a St. James’ Palace spokesperson, as did several others that day.

    “So she clearly gave out information about you taking doctor’s advice didn’t she?” Green asked Harry.

    “Again in reaction to a phone call from a journalist,” Harry answered.

    “Do you know that or just speculation?” Green asked.

    "The palace did not have a systemic habit of talking about private matters”, Harry said, saying it was quite the opposite.

    Harry also said that he tried to get a record from the palace of statements they had given about him to the press, but “no such record exists”. This was a request from MGN he argued, that came via his own legal team.

    In his witness statement, Harry said the story about him having glandular fever - or the ‘kissing disease’ - left him "miserable" and a "laughing stock".

    “The article is accurate in that I was diagnosed with glandular fever at this time, however I’m not sure how anyone outside of my immediate family knew this.

    “I didn’t tell anyone as I was ashamed of having contracted it. It’s one of those infections that had a huge stigma attached to it when you’re a teenager, which is exactly what the article itself is playing on, and the impact on me was huge.

    “Whenever anyone got it while we were at school, they would be teased endlessly whenever people knew, and this article made sure the whole country knew about my diagnosis.

    “The whole school seemed to know, no one would go near me and I was a bit of a laughing stock. I felt miserable. The timing of the article was also horrible.

    “As was reported, I was about to go skiing, which is a sociable activity so it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

    “I do not believe that the Palace put this information out freely, I think they responded to information that was put to them. Glandular fever is not a life-threatening infection, there was no need for information about my medical condition to be publicly broadcast by the Defendant’s journalists.

    “This is an example of articles that seemed to be typecasting me into a particular role within the Royal Family. I was being made to look irresponsible or reckless. Even an infection that is common amongst teenagers was somehow being portrayed as something that was my fault, that I’d brought it on myself.”

  • Emma Mackenzie

    Harry says tabloid newspapers cast him in 'thicko' role

    In his witness statement, Prince Harry has said that the tabloid press cast him the role of a "thicko" and "playboy prince".

    "I ended up feeling as though I was playing up to a lot of the headlines and stereotypes that they 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.

    "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. Looking back on it now, such behaviour on their part is utterly vile."

    Read more about the role Harry felt cast in by the newspapers below

    Prince Harry witness statement: Duke blames tabloids for 'inciting hatred' - and casting him as a 'thicko' and a 'playboy'

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, arrives to the Royal Courts of Justice, Britain's High Court, in central London on June 6, 2023. Prince Harry is expected to take the witness stand as part of claims against a British tabloid publisher, the latest in his legal battles with the press. King Charles III's younger son will become the first senior British royal to give evidence in court for more than a century when he testifies against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN). (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Harry arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice to give evidence. (AFP/Getty Images)

Harry court case: Read more

MGN has said: "Where historical wrongdoing has taken place, we have made admissions, take full responsibility and apologise unreservedly, but we will vigorously defend against allegations of wrongdoing where our journalists acted lawfully."