Prince Harry feared he would be “ousted” from the royal family over rumours Major James Hewitt was his real dad.
The 38-year-old prince made the claim during his ongoing phone hacking trial against Mirror Group newspapers at the High Court in London on Tuesday, with the royal also arguing he was portrayed as the “playboy prince” during his younger years.
His admissions as he gave evidence all morning included his claims he struggled at school, was afraid he would be kicked out of Eton and felt his relationship with ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy was “doomed”.
He told how he had not realised Major Hewitt only met his mom Princess Diana – who was killed in a 1997 Paris car smash aged 36 – until after Harry was born.
The duke said: “At the time, I wasn’t actually aware that my mother hadn’t met Major Hewitt until after I was born. This timeline is something I only learnt of in around 2014.”
Adding the rumours Major Hewitt was his biological dad instead of King Charles were “very damaging” and “very real” to him, he said: “They were hurtful, mean and cruel.”
He also said he feared the rumours would sow “doubt in the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the royal family”.
Becoming the first royal questioned in a UK courtroom for 130 years, Harry has claimed phone hacking was used to find out how he had celebrate his 18th birthday and admitted calling his mom’s former butler Paul Burrell, 65, a “two faced s***” in 2003.
Harry noted in his court statement that as the “spare” to the “heir”, he was portrayed as “either the ‘playboy prince’, the ‘failure’, the ‘drop out’ or, in my case, the ‘thicko’, the ‘cheat’, the ‘underage drinker’, ‘irresponsible drug taker’”.
Harry has also slammed the current UK government, arguing that the Conservative Party has reached “rock bottom”.
The prince, who now lives in California with his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 41, and their two children after the couple stepped down as working royals, explained: “Our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government – both of which I believe are at rock bottom.
“Democracy fails when your press fails to scrutinise and hold the government accountable, and instead choose to get into bed with them so they can ensure the status quo.”
Harry’s case is being heard alongside three other “representative” claims during a trial which started last month and is due to last six to seven weeks.