Why is Prince Harry in court? His legal case explained

The Duke of Sussex is one of 7 suing Associated Newspapers Limited

a close up of Prince Harry leaving court in March 2023
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

The Duke of Sussex's appearance at the High Court in London has had many asking questions. We explain why Prince Harry was in court and more about the legal case he's involved in.

Since stepping back as a senior royal in March 2020, Prince Harry's visits to the UK have been few and far between. And some might have presumed his trips home to be even less frequent following the publication of his memoir Spare in January 2023 - not long after the release of Netflix documentary series Harry and Meghan - which opened up on the ongoing royal rift between him and his famous family.

Nevertheless, Prince Harry is currently back in the capital and has been spotted attending the High Court in March 2023 for legal proceedings he is personally connected with. We share further details on why the Duke is back on British soil and the legal action he's involved in.

Why is Prince Harry in court?

Prince Harry has appeared at London's High Court for a hearing into his case against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL). The Duke of Sussex is one of seven high-profile individuals who have accused the Daily Mail publisher of breaching their privacy, including phone-hacking.

The 38-year-old arrived for the first hearing on Monday 27 March. He then returned for the second hearing on March 28, joined by fellow claimant Sir Elton John. Other individuals to bring action against ANL include Elton John's husband David Furnish, actresses Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost, and Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack back in 1993.

David Sherborne, is the lawyer representing the group of prominent individuals, who most recently defended Colleen Rooney in the Wagatha Christie case. Of the case against ANL, he explained: "The claimants each claim that in different ways they were the victim of numerous unlawful acts carried out by the defendant, or by those acting on the instructions of its newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday."

Prince Harry and his co-claimants allege that the newspapers were "illegally intercepting voicemail messages; listening into live landline calls; obtaining private information, such as itemised phone bills or medical records, by deception or 'blagging'". The individuals allege that private investigators were hired to carry out these illegal activities, which at times included "breaking and entry into private property".

Sherborne states that the incidents took place for an extended period between 1993 and 2011, in some cases continuing up "until 2018."

Associated Newspapers Limited have categorically denied the allegations made against them and have said they are prepared to vigorously defend themselves if necessary.

Prince Harry's appearance is part of a four-day preliminary hearing, where a judge will consider legal arguments from both parties and a judge will decide whether it will go any further.

What did Prince Harry say in court?

In a filed legal document, Prince Harry alleges that the publisher's "unlawful acts" left him full of "suspicion and paranoia" and questioning the loyalties of friends, who he believed were the source behind the information being printed in the newspapers.

Lawyer David Sherborne said: "Friends were lost or cut off as a result and everyone became a 'suspect' since he was misled by the way that the articles were written into believing that those close to him were the source of this information being provided to Associated's newspapers."

a medium shot of Prince Harry leaving court followed by his lawyer

(Image credit: Getty)

The royal claims that the publishers actions meant he was "largely deprived of important aspects of his teenage years". 

Prince Harry's barrister added: "The claimant regards Associated's unlawful acts to amount to a major betrayal given promises made by the media to improve its conduct following the tragic and untimely death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997."

Associated Newspapers Limited strongly denies all allegations.

What did Elton John say in court?

Sir Elton John arrived at London's High Court on the second day of the preliminary hearings. The music legend alleges that his landline was tapped by a private investigator hired by Associated Newspapers Limited.

Acting on behalf of Sir Elton, lawyer David Sherborne said that the star and his husband, David Furnish were "mortified to consider all their conversations, some of which were very personal indeed, were tapped, taped, packaged and consumed as a commercial product for journalists and unknown others to pick over regardless of whether or not they were published".

a close up of musician Sir Elton John leaving London's High Court in March 2023.

(Image credit: Getty)

The couple also claim that a copy of their first child's birth certificate was unlawfully acquired by ANL - before the new parents had seen it themselves.

Associated Newspapers Limited strongly denies all allegations.

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.