The legal battle between Prince Harry and the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline is closed, as the Duke of Sussex accepted "significant damages" over an article alleging he turned his "back on the Marines."
"Each article reported that The Duke of Sussex had turned his back on the Royal Marines, had snubbed the British Armed Forces and ignored correspondence from Lord Dannatt, a former Chief of the General Staff," Harry’s attorney Jenny Afia said in court on Monday, February 1. "All of these allegations are false, as the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline have now accepted, albeit after considerable damage was already done."
According to Afia, the publisher was "immediately put on notice of the falsity and egregious nature of its allegations." The outlet offered a settlement to Prince Harry on December 3 and said they would print apologies in both outlets and pay "substantial damages and his costs." The article has also been removed from the website.
Prince Harry accepted the settlement offer on December 24. "The Duke did so, despite his view that the content and prominence of the proposed apology would not be commensurate with the original story and subsequent harm caused, so as not to unnecessarily protract the litigation," Afia said in court.
"The wording of the apology was the same for the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline. One of the reasons why The Duke has had to make a statement in open court is because the Defendant used wording which significantly underplayed the seriousness of the accusations made against him," Afia said. "It did not expressly acknowledge that the allegations were false."
"Although the Defendant had, when making its settlement proposal, offered to directly donate The Duke's damages, The Duke wanted to bequest any damages received to Invictus Games Foundation himself so he could feel something good had come out of the situation," Afia said.
"Consequently he personally is donating the damages from this case to the Invictus Games Foundation. Although the wording was agreed, the apology does not, therefore, accurately represent what happened in that respect."
The original story claimed that after Prince Harry stepped down from royal duties and relocated to California with Meghan Markle and their son, Archie, he did not keep in contact with the Royal Marines.
However, while Harry and Markle are no longer working royals, he was allowed to maintain his military links as Captain-General of the Royal Marines.
"An article on 25 October 2020 reported that Prince Harry had been accused by a top general of turning his back on the Royal Marines since withdrawing from his military roles in March and that, in an apparent snub to the Armed Forces, he had failed to reply to a letter from Lord Dannatt, a former Chief of the General Staff," the Mail on Sunday wrote in their initial apology.
"We now understand that Harry has been in contact in a private capacity with individuals in the military including in the Royal Marines to offer informal support since March and that, whilst he did not initially receive the letter from Lord Dannatt referred to in the article due to administrative issues, he has since replied on becoming aware of it. We apologize to Prince Harry and have made a donation to (Harry's) Invictus Games Foundation."