Prince Harry’s political comments during his ongoing trial against Mirror Group Newspapers will have left Buckingham Palace “uncomfortable”, it has been claimed.
Harry, 38, is suing MGN for damages, claiming journalists at its titles were linked to unlawful methods at sourcing stories, including phone hacking.
In his witness statement, Harry gave a scathing indictment of the government as being at “rock bottom” and of being “in bed” with elements of the press in order to avoid scrutiny.
“On a national level as, at the moment, our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government – both of which I believe are at rock bottom.
“Democracy fails when your press fails to scrutinise and hold the government accountable, and instead choose to get into bed with them so they can ensure the status quo.
“I may not have a role within the Institution but, as a member of the British Royal family, and as a soldier upholding important values, I feel there’s a responsibility to expose this criminal activity in the name of public interest.
"The country and the British public deserve to know the depths of what was actually happening then, and indeed now. We will be better off for it.”
According to the Sunday Times, a royal source has claimed the palace “will find [Harry’s comments] extremely difficult and uncomfortable, because you can never fully separate yourself from the institution and it will have raised eyebrows on both sides of the park — at Westminster too — not least because it wasn’t necessary for the core of his case.
The source added: “But it only underlines the wisdom and importance of [Elizabeth II’s] decisions taken at Sandringham [the family summit in January 2020], that you cannot be half-in and half-out.”
However, Harry is by no means the only member of the Royal Family who has been accused of entering political territory in recent months.
In February this year, King Charles met with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, whilst she was in the country to finalise a post-Brexit deal over the Northern Ireland protocol.
The decision to meet with von der Leyen at that juncture was criticised across the political spectrum because of the controversial nature of the deal, and the figure of the monarch itself in Northern Ireland.
In addition, both Charles and the Prince of Wales have made strong statements of support for Ukraine following the invasion by Russia.
While supporting Ukraine is a popular position in the UK and unlikely to offend, it’s a significant deviation from the late Queen’s Elizabeth well-known and much admired soft touch when it came to diplomacy.
Harry, who is no longer a working royal in any capacity, is free to express political opinions.
As the Sunday Times source noted, this type of comment would have been inappropriate if the Sussexes had agreed with the late Queen Elizabeth to represent the crown in a “half-in, half-out” capacity. However that option was rejected by the Royal Family, leaving the Duke of Sussex able to comment on whatever issues he wishes - thereby leaving the Windsors vulnerable that those comments may be associated with them in some capacity on the world stage.
The “half-in, half-out” option was what Harry referred to as “option three” in his memoir Spare. He called it “A compromise. Closest to what we’d originally proposed”, that was halfway between a total split from royal life and remaining as full-time working royals.
If the palace had opted for this third option, they would have retained the ability to influence both the public comments the Sussexes made, and the projects they embarked upon, thereby potentially avoiding any “uncomfortable” situations.