Prince Harry in surprise London appearance at high-profile privacy case

Britain’s Prince Harry arrived at London’s Royal Courts of Justice Monday for the first hearing in a high profile privacy case against a major British newspaper group.

Harry’s surprise appearance, walking briskly, smiling and buttoning his coat, marked the start of the case launched last year against Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, over alleged phone-tapping and other breaches of privacy.

As well as Harry, the case involves seven high profile figures including the singer Elton John, actors Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost, Elton John’s husband and filmmaker David Furnish, and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993.

The individuals had become aware of “highly distressing” evidence revealing they had been victims of breaches of privacy by Associated Newspapers, law firm Hamlins said in a statement October, according to Reuters.

It said the breaches included placing listening devices inside people’s cars and homes, commissioning the bugging of live, private telephone calls, payment of police officials for sensitive information, and impersonating individuals to obtain medical records.

Associated Newspapers, which also publishes The Mail on Sunday and the Mail Online, said it “utterly and unambiguously” denied the allegations.

Legal restrictions requested by the newspaper group mean specific details of their allegations have not been made public so far.

The royal’s appearance in London comes amid feverish tabloid interest in him and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. While Harry, King Charles’s youngest son, and his wife have always been the subject of relentless coverage, this intensified after their engagement and marriage.

According to Harry and Meghan, the scrutiny and the lack of protection and defense against it on the part of other royals and courtiers, prompted their retreated from royal life. The two lost their publicly funded U.K. police protection when they stepped down as senior working royals and moved to North America in 2020.

The British royal family faced renewed scrutiny in January when Harry published a tell-all memoir, Spare, in which he revealed he took illegal drugs at 17, begged his father not to re-marry, and killed 25 Taliban fighters while serving in the British army.

Monday’s hearing comes after Harry asked a judge earlier this month to rule that the Mail on Sunday libeled the British royal with an article about his quest for police protection when he and his family visit the U.K., according to The Associated Press.

The article in question alleged Harry tried to hush up his separate legal challenge over the British government’s refusal to let him pay for police security.

Harry was not in court for the earlier meeting.

Harry’s lawyers have said the prince is reluctant to bring the couple’s children — Prince Archie, who is almost 4, and Princess Lilibet, nearly 2 — to the U.K. saying they feared for the family’s safety.

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