Prince Harry, who appeared in Lindon court on Tuesday to give evidence against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) to prove his allegations of phone hacking, said rumours King Charles III was not his real father was "very damaging and very real to me".
The Duke of Sussex opened up on the gossips and tabloid stories about his real father, fearing journalists would try to get him "ousted" from the royal family.
The Duke of Sussex is in the UK to testify in his lawsuit against MGN on historic allegations of gathering news via unlawful means, including over a an article related to rumours that Major James Hewitt, who Princess Diana allegedly had an affair with, was Harry's real father.
In a witness statement seen by Newsweek, King Charles younger son said: "This article, which was published on page 4 of The People and was written by Dean Rousewell, reported a plot to steal a sample of my DNA to test my parentage."
"Numerous newspapers had reported a rumour that my biological father was James Hewitt, a man my mother had a relationship with after I was born. At the time of this article and others similar to it, I wasn't actually aware that my mother hadn't met Major Hewitt until after I was born."
"This timeline is something I only learnt of in around 2014, although I now understand this was common knowledge amongst the defendant's journalists. 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."
"They were hurtful, mean and cruel. I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories. Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the royal family?"
The rumour over who Harry's real father is was only quashed for him aged 30, which for context was two years before he met his wife Meghan Markle and a year after the birth of Kate Middleton and Prince William's son Prince George.
The Duke's case also references a second article in the Mirror headlined: "Plot to steal Harry DNA" published on December 16, 2002.
"This article elaborates on the money that could be obtained from obtaining my DNA and selling it on to a foreign newspaper," Harry said in his witness statement:
"It reports that St James' Palace believed my DNA was to be offered 'to a foreign newspaper for tens of thousands of pounds," he added.
The prince continued: "Again, I do not believe this information would have been put into the public domain by anyone at the palace, given the security risk this poses.
"The article also reports that Spain was thought to be a strong possibility for the location of the 'honeytrap' to take place. Again, I'm not sure where the [Mirror Group's] journalist would have got this information from."
Harry describes how Charles, then Prince of Wales, liked to tell an anecdote about meeting a patient at psychiatric hospital Broadmoor who believed he was the Prince of Wales: "Who knows if I'm really the Prince of Wales? Who knows if I'm even your real father? Maybe your real father is in Broadmoor, darling boy!"
Harry wrote: "He'd laugh and laugh, though it was a remarkably unfunny joke, given the rumor circulating just then that my actual father was one of mummy's former lovers, Major James Hewitt.
"One cause of this rumor was Major Hewitt's flaming ginger hair, but another cause was sadism. Tabloid readers were delighted by the idea that the younger child of Prince Charles wasn't the child of Prince Charles. They 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."
MGN has denied Prince Harry's claims about phone hacking and admitted only one instance of unlawful information gathering. The hearing, at the High Court, in London, continues.
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