Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are speaking up after a private investigator, hired by U.K. tabloid The Sun, confessed to illegally obtaining personal information belonging to the Duchess and her family members.
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex feel that today is an important moment of reflection for the media industry and society at large, as this investigative report shows that the predatory practices of days past are still ongoing, reaping irreversible damage for families and relationships," a spokesperson for the power couple said.
"They are grateful to those working in media who stand for upholding the values of journalism, which are needed now more than ever before," they concluded.
U.S. private investigator Daniel Hanks — who was hired during the early stages of Meghan's romance with Harry — told BBC that he obtained Meghan's social security number, address and phone number, amongst other personal information.
Hanks decided to finally come forward about his work for The Sun in order "to clear my conscience," he said. When asked what he would directly say to Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, Hanks candidly apologized for his actions and said he regretted taking part in the whole thing.
"I'm deeply sorry for what I did...and I'm available if your lawyers need to talk to me," Hanks said. "I'm ready to give you what I know. Supply you with any information. I just wish this had never happened."
According to Hanks, he found all his information through "legal means," with the exception to Meghan's social security number, calling it the "the key to the kingdom."
The publishers of The Sun, News Group Newspapers, released their own statement after Hanks came forward and admitted to hiring the private investigator. However, they insisted that Hanks "was not tasked to do anything illegal or breach any privacy laws — indeed he was instructed clearly in writing to act lawfully and he signed a legal undertaking that he would do so."
They did not request Meghan's social security number or any information "for any unlawful practice," The Sun claimed.
Harry and Meghan — who cited the pressure from U.K. tabloids as one of the reasons they decided to step away from their royal life during their interview with Oprah Winfrey — have both had their fair share of run-ins with the press.
The red-headed prince is currently involved in a lawsuit against The Sun's owner, News UK, and MGN, former owner of The Mirror, regarding alleged illegal interception of voicemail messages. The claims were filed on behalf of the Duke in October 2019.
And last month, the brunette beauty won her privacy case against the Mail on Sunday's publishers regarding five articles published in February 2019. The articles included passages from her private letter to estranged father Thomas Markle — she has been at odds with her father since he staged paparazzi photos ahead of her and Harry's 2018 wedding — following the couple's nuptials at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
"These tactics are not new; in fact, they've been going on for far too long without consequence," Meghan said in response to the British judge granting summary judgment in her favor. "For these outlets, it's a game. For me and so many others, it's real life, real relationships, and very real sadness.
"The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep," the son-to-be mama-of-two candidly added.