Prince Harry Feared a False Article Left Service Members and Veterans "More Susceptible to Suicide"

Prince Harry said a Mail on Sunday article claiming he had abandoned the British military could have "devastating effects" on service members and veterans.

london, england january 16 prince harry, duke of sussex hosts the rugby league world cup 2021 draws for the mens, womens and wheelchair tournaments at buckingham palace on january 16, 2020 in london, england photo by samir husseinwireimage
(Image credit: CHRIS JACKSON)
  • Prince Harry said a Mail on Sunday article (opens in new tab) claiming he had abandoned the British military could have "devastating effects" on service members and veterans, in a legal document filed as part of his libel action (opens in new tab) against the paper's publishers. 
  • Harry's lawyers said the article could damage his credibility among the British military community and minimise the impact of his advocacy for mental health services.
  • The legal document said the article could leave service members and veterans "more susceptible to suicide."

Prince Harry feared a Mail on Sunday article claiming he had abandoned the British military (opens in new tab) since stepping down as a senior royal could have "devastating effects" on service members and veterans, potentially "leaving them more susceptible to suicide."

In a legal document submitted as part of his libel action against the Mail on Sunday's publishers, Associated Newspapers, the Duke of Sussex's lawyers say the article impacted his "credibility" among the military community, as Newsweek reports (opens in new tab), and could thus "seriously hamper" his efforts to promote mental health services.

In October, the Mail on Sunday published an article claiming that Harry had ceased contact with the Royal Marines since stepping down as a senior royal and relinquishing his honorary role of Captain General. The article further alleged that Harry had snubbed former Army head Lord Dannatt, ignoring a letter which he asked for more support for the British military community.

In a legal warning sent days later, Harry's lawyers at London firm Schillings called the article "false and defamatory," while a source told Vanity Fair that Harry didn't receive Lord Dannatt's letter, and subsequently requested it be forward to his staff in the US.

In the latest legal document seen by Newsweek, Harry's lawyers say the article was "barely researched and one-sided," adding that he was unable to respond to its claims as it was published less than three hours after his representatives were contacted for comment.

The court filing states that Harry's "sincere ambition is to continue to help current and former military personnel by using his reputation and the platform he has as a result of his military service." It continues, "This role substantially depends upon [Prince Harry] using his reputation to help such causes by attracting public support for them."

"The publication of the allegations complained of will seriously hamper his ability to do so and therefore have an adverse effect upon the people he is seeking to help," the filing reads.

"[Prince Harry] has, in particular, used his reputation to support and encourage current and former military personnel to seek help for mental health problems," Harry's lawyers say. "The publications complained of will diminish [Prince Harry's] credibility in the eyes of such personnel and therefore make them less likely to seek the help being offered."

"[Prince Harry] reasonably fears that this will in turn have devastating effects upon such individuals, including leaving them more susceptible to suicide."

In December, the Mail on Sunday (opens in new tab) retracted the article and published an apology to Prince Harry. (opens in new tab) "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 statement read (opens in new tab).

"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," the statement continued. "We apologise to Prince Harry and have made a donation to the Invictus Games Foundation."

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Emily Dixon
Emily Dixon

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.