Prince Harry donates 'substantial' damages from Mail on Sunday to Invictus Games after claims he snubbed Royal Marines

PRINCE Harry today donated "substantial damages" awarded over "baseless"claims he snubbed the Marines after Megxit to the Invictus Games.

The Duke of Sussex, 36, sued Associated Newspapers Ltd over two "almost identical" articles claiming he had "not been in touch since his last appearance as an honorary Marine in March".

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Harry today won his legal action after being left "personally affronted" by the articles on the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline in October.

The High Court heard he accepted an apology and damages, which he will donate to the Invictus Games Foundation he set up in 2014.

A statement on his behalf released after the short hearing this morning said: "Today, the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline publicly admitted in open court that they pushed a completely false and defamatory story.

"And they've apologised 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.

"Unsurprisingly, The Mail again misled their readers in December by claiming to make a charitable donation as part of an initial apology. They did no such thing.

"The duke is personally donating the significant damages recovered from this legal resolution to the Invictus Games Foundation."

'BASELESS'

His lawyers argued ANL accepted the allegations were false "albeit after considerable damage was already done" in a blistering attack on the publisher.

Jenny Afia, for Harry, said: "The Duke's commitment to the men and women who have put their lives on the line, to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and to military families, is steadfast and unquestionable.

"For this reason, the baseless, false and defamatory stories published in the Mail on Sunday and on the website MailOnline constituted not only a personal attack upon the Duke's character but also wrongly brought into question his service to this country."

She added Harry was donating his damages "so he could feel something good had come out of the situation".

The Mail on Sunday printed an apology and accepted Harry had been in touch with the Royal Marines.

They also made a donation to the Duke of Sussex's Invictus Games foundation.

But Ms Afia said the apology "used wording which significantly underplayed the seriousness of the accusations made against him" and "did not expressly acknowledge that the allegations were false".

LEGAL ROW

Prince Harry, who was an officer for ten years in the Army, had his honorary military titles stripped when he quit the royal family with Meghan Markle last January.

He is not allowed to take any particular role using the titles, but they have not yet been handed to other members of the family.

They will be examined in March as part of the monarchy's 12-month review into Megxit.

Harry later said he was "devastated" at having to give up his titles and revealed he had "no choice".

The article claimed "exasperated top brass" were considering a replacement as Harry had not "been in touch" since his last appearance as an honorary Marine".

'FRUSTRATED AND SADDENED'

It also alleged he had not responded to a personal letter from the ex-head of the Army, Lord Dannatt, and quoted a retired senior officer who called on Harry to "take the job seriously".

Ms Afia said: "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.

"It is also untrue that the Duke ignored correspondence from Lord Dannatt."

His lawyers also said previously Harry was "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".

Ms Afia added today Harry was "proud to have served in the British armed forces for 10 years in Her Majesty's name".

She said "the publication of such allegations will unfairly tarnish and diminish the organisations with which the Duke is associated and thereby hinder the valuable work they do".

The case is separate to Meghan Markle's legal battle against ANL for breaching her privacy by publishing extracts of a letter she wrote her dad Thomas Markle.

She is hoping for a summary judgment in her case that would axe the need for a high-profile trial with witnesses.




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