Prince Harry has been awarded "substantial damages" and an apology after a series of articles erroneously claimed that he had snubbed his duties with the Royal Marines.
In a libel lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Mail of Sunday and MailOnline, the Duke of Sussex fought back against two nearly identical articles that ran in the newspapers accusing him of shirking his military duties.
The articles – which ran in October 2020, just months after he and wife Meghan Markle stepped down as senior royals – claimed Harry, 36, had "not been in touch" with the Royal Marines "since his last appearance as an honorary Marine in March (2020)".
In the suit, Harry's legal teams calls the reports "baseless, false and defamatory" while adding that they were a "personal attack" on his character and wrongfully questioned his commitment to serve his country.
The debunked articles alleged that "exasperated top brass" were considering replacing Harry as Captain General of the Royal Marines because he "has not been in touch by phone, letter nor email since his last appearance as an honorary Marine."
The articles also reported that the Duke hadn't acknowledged a letter from Lord Dannatt, a former head of the British Army who advised Harry to "take the job seriously."
But Harry has denied the reports, maintaining that his commitment to the Royal marines remains steadfast.
“The truth is that The Duke of Sussex has made repeated and concerted efforts to continue to support the Royal Marines and other members of the Armed Forces and their families over the past year, even though he was required to step back from his formal military roles in the ‘year of transition’ during which he must take a reduced role as a member of the Royal Family,” lawyer Jenny Afia said.
She added that it was “untrue” that Harry ignored correspondence from Lord Dannatt, a former Chief of the General Staff.
“The Duke's commitment to the men and women who have put their lives on the line, to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and to military families, is steadfast and unquestionable. For this reason, the baseless, false and defamatory stories published in the Mail on Sunday and on the website MailOnline constituted not only a personal attack upon The Duke’s character but also wrongly brought into question his service to this country,” Ms. Afia, a partner at legal firm Schillings, said.
Prince Harry will be donating the proceeds from the judgement to Invictus Games Foundation, which he founded in 2014 and runs the competition for wounded, injured or sick servicemen and women.
“Today, The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline publicly admitted in open court that they pushed a completely false and defamatory story. And they’ve apologized for questioning The Duke of Sussex’s commitment to the Royal Marines and British Armed Forces. The truth is that The Duke’s commitment to the military community is unquestionable,” the spokesman said.