Partial vindication for Prince Harry, courtesy of the tabloids he hates: The Daily Mirror says some of the stories it’s run about the duke came directly from the royals themselves. That claim came up in the course of Harry’s phone-hacking trial against Mirror Group Newspapers, and it’s also one of the catalyzing complaints behind his relentlessly candid memoir, Spare. In its 400-plus pages, Harry accused Queen Consort Camilla of handing unflattering intel to friendly reporters — in Harry’s telling, her effort to bolster her own public image at the expense of her teenage stepson’s. While Mirror Group didn’t reveal its sources, Yahoo UK reports that, in court documents, it said 28 of 33 articles that Harry believes came from hacking actually “came from information disclosed by or on behalf of royal households or members of the Royal Family.”
A little background: Along with several other celebs, Harry is suing MGN for, as his lawyers recently put it in court, resorting to the “most intrusive methods of obtaining personal information” in crafting tabloid stories. While the publisher has admitted to, and apologized for, dispatching a private investigator to tail Harry in a nightclub in 2004, it denies tapping into his voicemail and rummaging around for tips. That’s a tactic Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World deployed in the mid-aughts, accessing not just Harry’s phone but also Prince William’s and the mobiles of assorted other high-profile people. Harry’s attorneys say The Mirror and its senior executives — including former editor and Sussex enemy Piers Morgan, who denies involvement — green-lit spying on “an industrial scale” and focuses on 33 articles as alleged evidence.
Though off-putting, the idea that royals trade information on other family members is not a novel one. According to Tina Brown — who says, in The Diana Chronicles, that she sourced her information from biographer Andrew Morton — Princess Diana strategically fed information on her friend and sister-in-law Sarah Ferguson’s deteriorating marriage to the tabloids in order to bury her own bad press. Diana and Charles are said to have engaged in a leaking duel in order to influence their coverage. As royal editors and correspondents have made clear, the palace gossip machine has always run on inside help. Members of staff, various royals’ communications officers, friends — people around the family talk to reporters, who decide what they publish and when. Some stories are “definitely fabricated,” as Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip previously explained to the Cut, and some come from the palace.
“If a royal biography on Prince Charles is published, with a lot of the information on there, the person who wrote the book would have been given access to travel with Prince Charles and his aides and courtiers to gather information and to get quotes,” Lui said. “The people who work in the communications offices of the court are not strangers to working with the press, giving them leads to certain stories, and passing on information.”
So partial vindication, in that one of Harry’s more salient complaints has been co-signed by the tabloids — but it’s not necessarily a groundbreaking insight, nor is it direct confirmation that this newspaper also engaged in hacking. Whether that arrives we will have to wait and see.