Prince Harry has lamented his ‘horrible’ time in Australia, where he was bombarded with press attention despite spending much of his time ‘in the Outback’.
The Duke of Sussex spoke of his ‘suffocating’ time Down Under during his gap year as a teenager during his case against the Mirror Group Newspapers – the British news organization he accuses of phone hacking and illegal information gathering.
The royal family claims private investigators may have been paid to watch him during the 2003 visit when he was 19.
He told the High Court in London on Tuesday about an article in which he was photographed on a beach in Noosa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
“It was a public beach, but not crowded or popular, so I don’t understand how anyone knew we were there, to be in the right place at the right time to take pictures,” Harry said in his testimony.
‘I didn’t know then that anyone was taking pictures.
“The fact that a photographer turned up on a random beach in Noosa – where there were no other people – is incredibly suspicious.”
Prince Harry has complained to the High Court about his ‘terrible’ time in Australia, where he was bombarded with press attention despite spending much of his time ‘out in the outback’. (Pictured: Prince Harry in Sydney on September 23, 2003)
Harry said it would have been like a “needle in a haystack” to find him.
That’s what Mirror’s lawyer, Andrew Green, said perhaps there were or were not ‘local’ photographers willing to look for that needle in a haystack.
Mr Green said everyone has ‘huge sympathy’ for the intrusion from the press that Harry endured.but it does not necessarily follow that it was the result of unlawful activity’.
The duke replied, “It is the illegitimate means that make it worse.”
Another article was published two months earlier, in September 2003, by Jane Kerr, The Mirror’s royal reporter, titled ‘Harry is ready to leave Oz’.
The Duke of Sussex (pictured at the High Court in London) spoke of his ‘suffocating’ time Down Under during his gap year as a teenager in his case against the Mirror Newspaper Group
Prince Harry said the article suggested he leave Australia due to the intense press he received.
“The article contains a comment from a Palace spokesperson expressing concern and disappointment at the treatment I received,” his statement read.
“I remember the palace making a statement because the situation in Australia was dire for me and there would be an arrangement that once I had done the press interview on arrival I would be left to continue with my gap year in private.
“I was a teenager and this made it clear that there was nowhere in the world, not even the Australian outback, where I wouldn’t be hounded by the press or paparazzi.”
Prince Harry said his late grandmother sent a senior aide to Australia to help amid “the level of encroachment on my life,” but unbeknownst to him.
Prince Harry is seen after a polo match during his gap year in Australia in November 2003
Prince Harry is seen with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his family on a visit to Australia in October 2013, ten years after his teenage gap year
“I only recently learned that the Queen had asked one of her assistant private secretaries to fly to Noosa and take a house down the road where I was staying, without my knowledge,” he said.
“She was concerned about the extent of my travel coverage and wanted someone I knew to be around in case I needed support.”
Harry also wondered why there was a line in the article saying he had stayed indoors to ‘watch videos’ while in Australia to avoid the press.
‘I’m not sure how they knew what I was doing inside. The whole purpose of dodging the cameras was to prevent everyone from knowing what I was doing at all times,” he said.
“It was suffocating. I was alone in Australia with some British bodyguards, so this is the sort of thing I would have complained about on the phone and in voicemails.’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seen here during their visit to Sydney in October 2018
The Duke of Sussex told the court that two demands for payment were reportedly made to a private investigator he believes were linked to the articles.
‘The first dated 24th September for £100 with the description ‘So that’s where you got your haircut from Harry’ and the second dated 26th September for £450 with the description ‘Prince Harry looking at Hunter Valley (Ellis)’,’ heard in court.
“These suggest to me that Mirror Newspaper Group used unlawful techniques to collect information about me, with the second payment appearing to me as if the defendant paid to have me viewed.”
Harry rejected a suggestion that the information came from royal aide Mark Dyer, while being questioned by Mr Green.
“It doesn’t seem so,” said the duke.
“I will not accept that Mr. Dyer spoke freely to the press.”
Mr. Green told Harry ‘the information you claim came from voicemail interception or unlawful information gathering… actually came from your escorts’.
When asked if he accepted that the information had not been obtained by the Daily Mirror through phone hacking or illegitimate means, the royal family replied: “You’d have to ask the journalists.”
Harry said Ms Kerr submitted a statement saying she had no recollection of the story or source in most cases.
Prince Harry will be questioned again on Wednesday.