Prince Harry

Prince Harry set to make history with his upcoming court case

He’ll be the first royal to take the witness stand in over a century.
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Prince Harry is set to become the first senior member of the British royal family to give evidence in court in over a century.

The Duke of Sussex will appear at London’s High Court on Tuesday, June 6 and will take to the witness stand; something a British royal hasn’t done since 1891.

Prince Harry will be the first royal to give evidence in court in over a century.

(Credit: (Image: Getty))

Harry’s cross-examination in court will form part of the legal case he and multiple other high-profile figures – such as singer Cheryl, actor Ricky Tomlinson and the estate of the late singer George Michael – have brought against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

The claimants allege that MGN, the publisher of the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, gathered information unlawfully by phone hacking and ‘blagging’ – gaining information through deception and through use of private investigators.

Prince Harry has specifically alleged that roughly 140 articles published by MGN between 1996 and 2010 contained information that was obtained via unlawful methods.

MGN is contesting all claims and have even argued that some have been brought too late.

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The last time a royal gave evidence in court was in the 19th century. During the trial of the Royal Baccarat Scandal, also known as the Tranby Croft Affair, Edward VII (the King of England from 1901 to 1910) was cross-examined.

For context, The Royal Baccarat scandal began in September 1890 at Tranby Croft, the then-home of Arthur Wilson and his family.

The then-Prince Edward was asked to stay at Arthur’s Victorian country house for a few days and during the first night of his stay, he and all the other guests played baccarat – a gambling card game, which was illegal at the time.

During the game, Arthur’s son Stanley thought he saw Lieutenant-Colonel Sir William Gordon-Cumming, one of the guests and a friend of Edward’s, add to his stake illegally.

The last royal to give evidence in court was King Edward VII and he did so in 1891.

(Credit: (Image: Getty))

Stanley informed his family and the next night, when everyone all played baccarat again, they kept a close eye on William. The Wilson family believed William was acting suspiciously so they sought advice from Edward’s advisers Lord George Coventry and Lieutenant-General Owen Williams.

With Edward’s approval, George and Owen confronted William and persuaded him to sign a document that declared he’d never play card games again in exchange for the guests’ silence.

However, the news of William allegedly cheating at baccarat spread. William believed the Wilson family had taken their accusations public so he demanded a retraction letter. When they refused, William filed a writ for slander.

The case was heard in June 1891 and during the trial, Edward was cross-examined.

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While in the witness box, Edward said he did not see William cheat and didn’t know anything about it until George and Owen informed him of the matter.

Ultimately, the jury ruled against William and in favour of the Wilson family. The day after the trial ended, William was dismissed from the British Army and was highly ostracised from society for the rest of his life.

In regards to Edward, the then-Prince was rather unpopular for a few years following the trial. And while he continued to gamble after the case, he did so more discreetly than before. He also never played baccarat again, taking up whist instead.

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