Prince Harry Skips Third Day of Proceedings in Phone Hacking Lawsuit as Hearing Continues

In a witness statement, the Duke of Sussex referenced negative headlines from the Daily Mail involving his wife, Meghan Markle 

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice on March 28, 2023 in London, England.
Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Prince Harry wasn't present for the third day of legal proceedings in an ongoing case against Associated Newspapers for illegal information gathering.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, was not at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Wednesday, where he stepped out Monday and Tuesday. Prince Harry, Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and more are suing Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, for illegal information gathering.

Fellow claimants David Furnish, Jude Law's ex-wife Sadie Frost and Baroness Doreen Lawrence were seen at court Wednesday, with the hearing set to wrap tomorrow.

David Furnish, Sadie Frost, Baroness Doreen Lawrence
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty; Dan Kitwood/Getty; Jordan Pettitt/PA Images via Getty

Though the Duke of Sussex wasn't present, his witness statement was referenced. According to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Prince Harry was previously unfamiliar with phone hacking and thought "no one would be so stupid as to hack my own phone given the security implications and consequences of my private information and whereabouts ending up in the wrong hands."

The documents further state that Harry only recently learned he might have a claim against powerhouse publisher ANL, after two private investigators admitted they executed "unlawful acts against him on the instruction of the Defendant's newspapers."

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leaves from the Royal Courts of Justice, Britain's High Court
Prince Harry. JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Prior to this point, the witness statement quoted Prince Harry as saying, "no-one had ever mentioned any evidence, or even suggested the possibility of guilt, in relation to unlawful information gathering by Associated. Before this point, whenever I considered Associated, I never thought about this. I did however think about all the other things I associated the Mail with, such as the harm caused to individuals and families up and down the country and all the false stories they would pump out about [my wife] Meghan."

The four-day hearing will consider legal arguments from both sides and will conclude with a judge's ruling on whether the case should go to trial. Associated Newspapers are arguing that the case should be thrown out.

Prince Harry made a surprise appearance the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday, watching intently and taking notes from his seat two rows behind the leading lawyers in the case. He returned to court again Tuesday, and gave a wave as he made his way inside.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex waves as he arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice, Britain's High Court, in central London on March 28, 2023. - Prince Harry and pop superstar Elton John appeared at a London court, delivering a high-profile jolt to a privacy claim launched by celebrities and other figures against a newspaper publisher. The publisher of the Daily Mail, Associated Newspapers (ANL), is trying to end the high court claims brought over alleged unlawful activity at its titles.
Prince Harry. DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty

When the case was announced in October 2022, Prince Harry's lawyers claimed that he was among several individuals who had "become aware of compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy by Associated Newspapers."

The claimants alleged in their lawsuit that unlawful practices included the placement of listening devices in their cars and homes by private investigators, the surreptitious recording of private telephone calls, the payment of police "with corrupt links to private investigators" for sensitive information, impersonation to obtain medical information from hospitals and care facilities and illicit manipulation into accessing bank accounts, credit histories and other financial transactions.

Associated Newspapers deny the allegations, calling them "preposterous smears," the BBC reported.

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Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales (L) and Britain's Prince Harry (C), Duke of Sussex arrive at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022, for the State Funeral Service for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. - Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country's longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince William and Prince Harry. MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty

The London court appearances earlier this week mark the first time Prince Harry has been in the U.K. since the funeral of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth in September. PEOPLE understands that he jetted into London to show his support for the case and informed both his King Charles and Prince William that he would be in the U.K. and attending the proceedings, though it's unlikely that he saw his father or brother during the trip.

Prince William, 40, is currently taking some time off with his wife Kate Middleton, while their three children — Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4 — are on a school break.

Meanwhile, King Charles, 74, was due to be in France starting Sunday for a now-postponed leg of his first overseas visit of his reign. Protests across the country forced President Emmanuel Macron to reschedule the King and Queen Camilla's visit to Paris and Bordeaux. The royal couple is continuing with their trip to Germany as planned, and arrived Wednesday.

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