Prince Harry accepts apology in libel case and will donate damages to Invictus Games Foundation

By Zach Harper, with files from Danielle Stacey

Prince Harry accepts apology in libel case and will donate damages to Invictus Games Foundation

Prince Harry has accepted in an apology in a settlement of a libel case with Associated Newspapers Ltd., the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, and will donate damages to the Invictus Games Foundation.

The amount of the damages is undisclosed, but is said to be "substantial." The Duke of Sussex wanted them to to go the Invictus Games Foundation "so he could feel something good had come out of the situation," his lawyer, Jenny Afia, said in a statement on Feb. 1.

"Today, The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline publicly admitted in open court that they published a completely false and defamatory story," said his lawyer in a statement read in court. "And they've apologized for questioning the Duke of Sussex's commitment to the Royal Marines and British armed forces.

"The truth is that the Duke's commitment to the military community is unquestionable."

Last year, Harry sued Associated Newspapers Ltd. for libel over two "almost identical" pieces published in October. The articles claimed he had snubbed the Royal Marines and "not been in touch... since his last appearance as an honorary Marine in March."

In a remote hearing held at the High Court on Feb. 1, Harry's legal team said Associated Newspapers Ltd. accept the allegations in the pieces were false, "albeit after considerable damage was already done." Harry said the pieces "personally affronted" him and "caused huge damage to his reputation" when he filed documents in December.

Jenny called the articles "baseless, false and defamatory" and said they "constituted not only a personal attack upon the Duke's character, but also wrongly brought into question his service to his country."

Harry is seen on arrival in Afghanistan's Helmand Province in 2012. Photo: © John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images

Harry entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2005 and spent the next 10 years in the British armed forces in active service. He spent two tours in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2012. Although Harry retired from the military in 2015, he remains closely involved with the armed forces.

Harry also founded the Invictus Games in 2014, which held its first competitions that same year. It's an annual Olympics-style event for injured veterans and service personnel. The 2020 Invictus Games was to be held in The Hague, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They've been rescheduled for May 29-June 5, 2021. The Invictus Games Foundation helps run the annual event, and as mentioned, Harry is its patron.

Harry speaks with competitors at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto. Photo: © Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Duke of Sussex was appointed Captain General Royal Marines by the Queen in 2017, but is not using the title at the moment following the Sussexes stepping back as senior members of the Royal Family in 2020. This coming March, there will be a 12-month review into Harry and Meghan's agreement in which the title will be examined.

"The truth is that The Duke of Sussex has made repeated and concerted efforts to continue to support the Royal Marines and other members of the Armed Forces and their families over the past year, even though he was required to step back from his formal military roles in the 'year of transition' during which he must take a reduced role as a member of the Royal Family," the statement shared by Harry's lawyer in court reads.

"The Duke... has maintained his active links with those forces ever since and will continue to do so in the future."

Duchess Meghan is also currently taking action against Associated Newspapers Ltd. She is suing the newspaper group in connection with the publication of a letter she sent her estranged father, Thomas Markle. The Duchess of Sussex says its publication breached her privacy, infringed on her data protection rights and also violated on her copyright.

Meghan has applied for a summary judgment in the case. If she's successful, that would mean the case would not go to full trial in the fall.

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