During court testimony Tuesday (June 6), Prince Harry addressed rumours that circulated during his childhood, including speculation that James Hewitt is his real father.
The 38-year-old prince took the stand in a British court, detailing how the country’s tabloids have negatively affected his mental health, as part of his lawsuit against the publishers of Britain’s Daily Mirror.
Harry specifically cited the 2002 article “Plot to rob the DNA of Harry,” which speculated that the prince was secretly the child of Princess Diana and her old riding instructor, Major James Hewitt, Us Magazine reported.
“At the time, when I was 18 years old and had lost my mother just six years earlier, stories such as this felt very damaging and very real to me,” Harry said. “They were hurtful, mean and cruel.”
He is currently suing the Mirror Group for allegedly obtaining information about him through unethical practices, including hacking his phone.
“I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories,” Harry said. “Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so that I might be ousted from the Royal Family?”
The prince claimed that when the stories first broke, he didn’t know that his mother had met Hewitt two years after he had already been born – a fact that would have easily dispelled his doubts.
But, Harry said, the fact was “common knowledge” among the journalists who were writing the stories at the time.
During an interview with Australia’s Sunday Night in 2017, Hewitt also denied the rumours. “It sells papers,” he said at the time. “It’s worse for (Harry), probably, poor chap.”
Harry also discussed the issue in his memoir, Spare.
“(The press) couldn’t get enough of this ‘joke,’ for some reason. Maybe it made them feel better about their lives that a young prince’s life was laughable,” he wrote.
The Mirror Group continues to deny any wrongdoing in the case, though it issued an apology in May.
“MGN unreservedly apologises for all such instances of UIG (unlawful information gathering), and assures the claimants that such conduct will never be repeated,” the company said. – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service