The Duke of Sussex’s reputation suffered “huge damage” when an article claimed he snubbed the Royal Marines after stepping down as a senior royal, court documents claim.
Harry’s ability to help veterans and serving military by attracting public support were “seriously” hampered by allegations in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, according to the legal papers lodged with the High Court.
The duke began legal proceedings before Christmas against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, after the articles appeared in October.
In the court document Harry’s legal team sets out his case and claims he was defamed by the articles and is claiming damages, but it was lodged before the Mail on Sunday printed an apology on December 27 and said it had made a donation to the foundation managing the duke’s Invictus Games.
It is understood his legal team will make an application to deliver a statement in open court which is expected to bring the matter to a close.
When Harry, who served as an Army officer for 10 years, and wife Meghan stood down as working royals and moved to America, his honorary military titles, including the prestigious post of Captain General of the Royal Marines, were put on hold.
He is not allowed to take any particular role using the titles at present, but they have not yet been handed to other members of the royal family.
They will be examined in March as part of the monarchy’s 12-month review of the Sussexes’ departure arrangements.
The Mail on Sunday article, published on October 25, claimed that “informed sources say the prince has not been in touch by phone, letter nor email since his last appearance as an honorary Marine in March, prompting exasperated top brass to start considering a replacement”.
It also alleged the duke had not responded to a personal letter from Lord Dannatt, a former head of the British Army.
The article quoted a retired senior officer who called on Harry to “take the job seriously”.
The duke’s legal team said in the court papers that he had been “personally affronted” by the articles which had “caused huge damage to his reputation by reason of the publication of the words complained of”.
The Queen’s grandson was also “frustrated and saddened” as the articles would diminish his credibility with veterans and serving military with mental health issues “and therefore make them less likely to seek the help being offered”.
The Mail on Sunday printed an apology on December 27 in its corrections and clarifications section, accepting the duke had been in touch with the Royal Marines.
It said: “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.”