Harry, who served as an Army officer for ten years, was accused by the newspaper of not being in touch with the Royal Marines since he and wife Meghan’s dramatic departure from the Royal Family last year.
The article, published in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, claimed senior military figures were “exasperated” with the situation and wanted to find a replacement for Harry as Captain General of the Royal Marines.
Launching a libel claim against publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd, Harry said he had suffered “high damage” from the allegations and was “personally affronted” by suggestions he was not taking his role seriously.
At the High Court today the Duke formal agreed to settle the case with ANL, in exchange for an apology and “substantial damages” which he will donate to his Invictus Games charity.
“The truth is the Duke of Sussex made repeated and concerted efforts to support the Royal Marines and other members of the armed forces and their families in the past year, even though he was required to step back from formal military roles”, said his lawyer Jenny Afia.
The Mail on Sunday article centred on a claim that Harry had not replied to a letter from former Army head Lord Dannatt, which had appealed to him to support the military community in Britain.
Ms Afia said the allegation was “untrue”, but Harry had not been given adequate chance to explain the situation prior to the articles being published.
The newspaper printed an apology on December 27 last year, accepting the Duke had been in touch with the Royal Marines.
“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 apologise to Prince Harry and have made a donation to the Invictus Games Foundation.”
However Ms Afia today criticised the prominence of the apologies, and told the court Harry would be the one who donated the damages to Invictus Games.
In his claim, Harry argued the newspaper article could damage his ability to help military veterans, a cause close to his heart after his long service in the military.
As part of his departure from the upper echelons of the Royal Family and move to America, Harry’s honorary military titles were put on hold. However they have not been handed to other Royals, with the situation due for review next month.
Ms Afia said the articles were “personal attacks on the Duke’s character” and are likely to have also damaged his work with military veterans and charities.
She said Harry agreed to the printed apologies despite being unhappy with the wording and proposed position in the newspaper, wanting to settle the litigation as soon as possible.
“The defendant used wording which significant underplayed the seriousness of the accusations made against him”, said Ms Afia.
“It didn’t expressly acknowledge the allegations were false.”
She is suing over the publication of a letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, arguing it was a breach of privacy and infringed her copyright.
Meghan has sought summary judgment – to land a quick win in the case – and if unsuccessful is due to face off with ANL at a High Court trial in the autumn.
— to www.standard.co.uk