UK paper group bids to throw out Prince Harry and others' privacy lawsuits
The Duke of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers Limited for breach of privacy and illegal information-gathering techniques. Reuters

Court documents Prince Harry filed against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) for alleged breach of privacy revealed that he suffered paranoia and lost friends over the tabloid stories printed about him.

The Duke of Sussex, along with singer Elton John and his husband David Furnish, and actresses Sadie Frost and Elizabeth Hurley, are suing ANL, publishers of The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday, for a series of privacy breaches and illegal information gathering techniques including the bugging of cars and listening live into telephone calls.

The 38-year-old filed the suit in 2022 with allegations that run "from at least as early as 2001 until at least as late [as] 2013 and beyond." According to court documents obtained by Newsweek, he along with the other claimants, each outlined their cases in their respective court filings.

Prince Harry and John both appeared at London's High Court for the four-day preliminary hearing which began on Monday, March 27, although they, along with the other claimants, will not be speaking during the legal proceedings.

But the royal's appearance speaks volumes about his desire to end the British press' alleged illegal journalism practices. It also reflects how he has learned to cope with the mental stress brought by the media and the paparazzi's intrusion into his private life.

Growing up as a royal family member, Prince Harry lived in a gilded cage and under the mercy of the British press. He has been candid about how his mental health suffered from always being in the spotlight and scrutinised by the media.

He spoke about having panic attacks from the cameras and getting "severe anxiety" ahead of attending public engagements in his interview on the Apple TV+ docuseries "The Me You Can't See" in 2021.

He shared how he was "all over the place mentally" and told Oprah Winfrey, "Before I even left the house, I was pouring with sweat and my heart was racing. I was in the fight-or-flight mode."

He recalled the "nightmare time" in his life at the age of 28 to 32 saying he "would just start sweating" at the sight of cameras. He said he would feel as though his "body temperature was two or three degrees warmer than everybody else in the room."

During that time, Prince Harry resorted to drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs as self-medication. He said he "was willing to drink, willing to take drugs" and "willing to try and do the things that made him feel less like he was feeling."

He did not know it then but he now understands that he turned to alcohol because he was "trying to mask something" and that something was the pain and trauma brought by his mother, Princess Diana's death. He said she was chased to her death by paparazzi.

"I was so angry with what happened to her. And the fact that there was no justice—at all. Nothing came from that. The same people that chased her into the tunnel photographed her dying on the backseat of that car."

But then came his military service, which offered him a sense of normalcy. He said it was the "happiest times" in his life when he was in the army for ten years because he "was just like everybody else and away from media scrutiny." There was no special treatment" and so it was in the military where he felt his "most normal."

Following his stint in the army, Prince Harry has since resorted to therapy and credits eye movement desensitization and reprocessing psychotherapy technique (EMDR) in helping treat his panic attacks. He says he has been taking EDMR therapy sessions for five years already and that it gives him "calmness" and strength."

Speaking about the treatment he tells Winfrey, "...It was a case of needing to go back to the past, go back to the point of trauma, deal with it, process it, and then move forward." Part of moving forward is opening up about his mental health struggles and sharing how he copes with them in order to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

He has also been vocal about the importance of mental health in the work environment in his speeches for BetterUp where he serves as Chief Impact Officer. Prince Harry has shut down tabloid stories about him and given the public intimate details about his life in his memoir "Spare" and in the "Harry & Meghan" Netflix docuseries.