Prince Harry has claimed that the UK government is at “rock bottom” in an extraordinary intervention into politics during his High Court case against a tabloid newspaper group.

The Duke of Sussex used a witness statement in his case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over alleged phone hacking to lash out at the standard of British government and democracy.

Harry blamed the tabloids for “inciting hatred and harassment” in his private life – claiming he was depicted as a “playboy prince”, a “thicko” and a “drug taker” when he was younger.

Accusing the government of being too “scared” of the press, he said: “Our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government – both of which I believe are at rock bottom.”

Harry added: “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.”

He said the media was an “unbelievably dangerous place” in his remarkable 55-page, 25,000-word witness statement ahead of court appearance on Tuesday.

The royal said: “If they’re supposedly policing society, who on earth is policing them, when even the government is scared of alienating them because position is power. It is incredibly worrying for the entire UK.”

Downing Street said it would not comment on Prince Harry’s remarks about the government as they were part of a live legal process.

It comes as Harry’s witness statement also claimed:

  • Press “intrusion” sparked paranoia around his relationships with aides and friends
  • Says stories about rumours his father was James Hewitt aimed at ousting him from the royal family
  • Claims he was “only 5 per cent” funded by the taxpayer as a working royal
  • Says he has never received a bill for a mobile phone – dealt with by the Royal Family

Harry surrounded as he arrives at court on Tuesday


Harry said he felt “physically sick” over payments to private investigators related to his late mother Princess Diana, the High Court has been told as he began his evidence.

He is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming journalists at its titles – including Sunday Mirror and Sunday People – were linked to methods including phone hacking, gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.

The duke arrived on Tuesday at the Rolls Building, which was surrounded by journalists and a heavy police presence. He entered the witness box of Court 15 shortly after 10.30am, swearing on a bible ahead of his cross-examination by MGN’s barrister.

In his witness statement for the case, Harry said he was “shocked and appalled” by the number of payments made by MGN titles to private investigators.

Harry alleges that about 140 articles published between 1996 and 2010 contained information gathered using unlawful methods, and 33 of these have been selected to be considered at the trial.

The duke said his “acute paranoia” of being constantly under surveillance was not misplaced after discovering private investigator payments related to Chelsy Davy, his ex-girlfriend.

Duke of Sussex being cross examined by Andrew Green KC

(Elizabeth Cook/PA)

“Had she not been in a relationship with me, she would never have had to endure such a horrific experience at the hands of MGN’s journalists,” he said.

Harry added: “There are even eight private investigator payments made in relation to my mother, which I have only learnt of since bringing my claim. This makes me feel physically sick.”

The duke also said he ended up “playing up to a lot of the headlines” about his playboy lifestyle as a teenager and in his early twenties.

“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.”

Referring to a story in The People in 2006 which said Ms Davy had gone “berserk” and slammed the phone down on Harry over the night out Spearmint Rhino club, the duke said: “I don’t think Chelsy did go mad about me going there.

He said: “We did speak about it over the phone – but I promised her that I hadn’t had a lap dance and stayed with the three other cadets that had girlfriends.”

He added: “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.”

The duke added that at different points he “doubted the loyalty” of people around him including his former nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke and former royal equerry Mark Dyer. “It’s only now, realising what the defendant’s journalists were doing … that I can see how much of my life was wasted on this paranoia.”

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