Prince Harry Arrives in Court for Latest U.K. Media Case, Becomes First Senior Royal to Testify in 130 Years

Prince Harry has arrived at London’s High Court, where he will become the first senior royal to take the witness box in 130 years.

The Duke of Sussex joins three other claimants in accusing the publisher of British tabloid The Daily Mirror of using unlawful methods, such as phone hacking, to secure stories. Mirror Group Newspapers has previously admitted to phone hacking but denies that the technique was used in the instances outlined in the claim. The case is one of five ongoing cases the royal has launched against U.K. media outlets.

Harry appeared relaxed as he arrived at court on Tuesday morning, flashing a smirk at the crowd before patting a member of his team on the back and striding into the building. A swarm of photographers surrounded the entrance alongside curious onlookers, including an artist wielding an off-kilter painting of Harry and wife Meghan Markle on a donkey.

Harry made his appearance after failing to attend court on Monday, when he was originally expected to give evidence. Judge Fancourt expressed his “surprise” that Harry wasn’t present, though sources indicate that the duke wasn’t instructed by his legal team to attend. The royal’s representatives said Harry stayed behind in California to celebrate his daughter Lilibet’s birthday.

Over the course of Tuesday and possibly even Wednesday, Harry will give evidence as to how unlawful techniques were used to report stories on him between 1996 and 2009. The case will examine 33 sample articles from Mirror Group Newspapers-owned outlets over the course of that period. The prince is expected to provide facts or compelling circumstantial evidence to support his claims against each of the 33 articles.

While royals have appeared in court previously — Princess Anne, for example, in 2002 pleaded guilty to failing to prevent one of her dogs from biting a child — Harry’s case marks the first time since 1891 that a senior royal has entered the witness box. In the 19th century, Prince Edward VII, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, served as a witness in a slander trial involving a card game. In 1870, he also testified as part of a divorce case where he was falsely accused of being the lover of an MP.

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