Prince William settled a phone-hacking claim against Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper group in 2020 for a “very large sum” – despite his brother being told to drop his own case.
Lawyers for Prince Harry claim the Royal Family came to a “secret agreement” with News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, which the Queen was privy to.
The deal was raised in court documents after the publisher pushed for strike-out action, arguing the case has been brought too late.
Harry’s lawyers argue that an agreement between the Royal Family as an institution and NGN “meant that the claimant could not bring a claim against NGN for phone hacking at that time”.
David Sherborne, representing Harry, said William has “recently settled his claim against NGN behind the scenes”.
It’s believed the Prince of Wales received a “very large sum” – rumoured to be in the millions – even though Prince Harry was told to drop his own case.
In a witness statement, the Duke of Sussex said he was “summoned to Buckingham Palace” and told to drop the cases because of the effect on the family.
Prince Harry said courtiers were “incredibly nervous” about a repeat of the damaging disclosure of an intimate phone call between his father and Camilla, the Queen Consort, which had been intercepted and published at a time when King Charles was still married to Diana.
According to the court documents, Prince Harry said that by 2018 he had felt “frustrated that nothing had been resolved” and wanted to “force a resolution” to the phone-hacking claims.
But when he ultimately decided to sue in 2019, Prince Harry claimed his father then tried to stop him.
“I was summoned to Buckingham Palace and specifically told to drop the legal actions because they have an ‘effect on all the family’,” said the duke.
“This was a direct request (or rather demand) from my father, Edward Young and my father’s private secretary, Clive Alderton.”
NGN lawyers deny there was ever a secret agreement.
Related: Brits need to accept they’re poorer, top banker says