Prince Harry has said the Government is at “rock bottom” while making a remarkable political intervention on the witness stand at the High Court.
The Duke of Sussex also accused the press of choosing to “get into bed with” the Government while appearing for his case against Mirror Group Newspapers over unlawful information gathering.
“Our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government – both of which I believe are at rock bottom,” the duke said in his 55-page witness statement.
“Democracy fails when your press fails to scrutinise and hold the government accountable, and instead choose to get into bed with them so they can ensure the status quo.”
Prince Harry, 38, is the first senior royal since the 19th century to face cross-examination in a witness box.
He used the opportunity on the witness stand to criticise the Government in an unexpected move that breaks from the tradition of royals staying out of politics.
He claimed the Government was “scared of alienating” newspapers because “position is power”.
The duke is pursuing a separate legal challenge against the Home Office over his security arrangements when visiting the UK.
Prince Harry has been called to the witness box on Tuesday over his claim that Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) used methods including phone hacking to publish 140 stories about his private life from 1996 to 2010.
He told the court that this alleged behaviour is “utterly vile” and “led to bouts of depression and paranoia”.
In response, MGN claims the articles came from a range of legitimate sources, rather than unlawful means, such as other royals, members of the royal household and freelance journalists.
Harry claimed in his witness statement that tabloids hacked his voicemail while he was at school at Eton.
“I would constantly be leaving and receiving voicemails, as text messaging was much less common back then,” he told the court.
“My voicemails would include incredibly private and sensitive information,” the statement added.
He alleged that stories questioning whether James Hewitt was his father were intended to distance him from the royal family.
He also touched on reports about his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy, describing a 2007 story in The People about her fears for his safety over his proposed military deployment to Iraq as “so violating”.
He said he believed journalists had listened to his and Miss Davy’s private messages, saying: “This article once more shows it’s not my career and professional life that the defendant’s journalists were interested in, but very private, raw emotions between me and my partner.”