OPINION — When the Duke of Sussex takes the witness stand this week, he will face a level of scrutiny like never before.
While Prince Harry has been sharing intimate details about the royal family for several years since stepping down from official duties with Meghan in 2020, such claims have only been on his terms.
Now, the 38-year-old is opening himself up to a form of challenge that the royal country has not faced in 132 years.
It goes completely against the mantra his late grandmother used throughout her 70-year reign: never complain, never explain.
And he is said to be going against the wishes of his father, King Charles III.
Giving evidence at London’s High Court in his latest battle against the tabloid press, Prince Harry will lift the veil of mystery that has shrouded the royal family for more than 100 years.
He will be faced with some of the most difficult questions he has ever had to answer, on subjects that could prove difficult: his childhood, the death of his mother, his past relationships, his partying days and dealing with Meghan’s husband in the hands of the press.
But for Harry, it will be worth it.
He is determined to have his day in court in what has become his life’s mission.
The duke wants to reform the British press, which he partly blames for his mother’s death, the breakdown of previous relationships and the paranoia he suffered as a teenager when he suspected close friends had betrayed him by leaking stories to the media.
Now, he and his legal team argue that many of these stories actually came about through wiretapping and illegal wiretapping.
By choosing to appear in the witness box in court, Prince Harry is taking his biggest risk yet. He will probably have to give up what he likes most: his privacy.
The Duke has long maintained that part of the reason he left royal life was to ensure privacy for himself and his family, a claim that was disputed after Meghan’s interview with Oprah and later his memoir , Spare.
Harry was then able to shape the narrative to suit his own agenda.
This time, the Duke will have to answer questions from experienced legal experts employed by the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), defending his claims.
What could emerge are deeply uncomfortable details of Harry’s private life that have yet to be made public.
It could further expose Meghan to more criticism and ridicule, something the image-conscious duchess would like to avoid at all costs.
For Harry, however, his life’s work seems to be gravitating towards this very moment on the witness stand, which could last three days, including cross-examination.
The move could either backfire for Harry, seen as just another example of him playing the victim, it could see him applauded for his bravery in taking a stand against the media, the duke getting one for group as it fights for press reform. .
Either way, it will be a risk for Prince Harry.
Details of the case will be made public, feeding an insatiable appetite for stories about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, for which there seems to be endless interest.
The royal family was able to avoid embarrassment when Prince Andrew reached an out-of-court settlement with Virginia Giuffre in February 2022, avoiding a civil trial.
The Duke of York was expected to be called as a witness in the sexual abuse case, a move the royal family would no doubt fear.
Several years after his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview, Prince Andrew is still plagued by the headlines arising from that roast.
While Harry’s legal battles are very different, there is a chance he will say something he may later regret.
He has already thrown his brother under the bus by revealing that Prince William had reached a private settlement with News Group newspapers in a separate case.
Harry previously said the royal family had carefully avoided the courts to avoid testifying about potentially embarrassing matters.
Prince Harry has the money and determination to keep fighting for what he believes is right.
He also tries to fight for his mother from beyond the grave, starting a crusade that he was unable to change during her short life.
Harry has previously compared Meghan’s treatment by the press to that of Princess Diana as he tries to protect his family from what his mother, and he and Prince William, had to endure years ago.
But in doing so, he is likely to lift the lid on his private life like never before.