Prince Harry made a scathing attack on the British media during a series of interviews aired yesterday in which he said the public was “guilty” of buying newspapers.
The prince has courted controversy in the media since he was sent to a drugs rehabilitation clinic after the News of the World revealed he had taken drugs in the grounds of his Highgrove home and was under-age drinking at a local pub.
Three years later he was forced to apologise when The Sun published pictures of him wearing a Nazi German Afrika Korps uniform with a swastika armband. In 2009 the News of the World obtained exclusive video footage of the prince making apparently racist comments to army colleagues.
“My father says don’t read it, everyone always says don’t read it because it’s always rubbish,” he said in an ITV interview yesterday.
“I’m surprised how many people in the UK actually read it. Everyone’s guilty for buying the papers, I guess – hopefully no one actually believes what they read, which I certainly don’t.”
The prince later joked about the phoning-hacking scandal that saw the closure of the News of the World in July 2011, adding: “Because we haven’t got mobile phones out here, they obviously can’t bug our phones so they don’t know what we’re saying.”
Claiming there was no “such thing as a private life any more”, Harry told one interviewer: “All it does is upset and anger me that people can away with writing the stuff they do.”
The prince indicated that his dislike of the British media dates back to the death of his mother, who dies in a car that crashed while being pursued by paparazzi photographers in 1997.
More recently the prince was caught up in further controversy when the US website TMZ obtained pictures of him cavorting naked in a hotel room with a young woman in Las Vegas.
The pictures were later republished by The Sun.
“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army and not enough prince,” he said. “It’s a simple case of that.
“Yes, people might look at it going, it was letting of steam, it’s all understandable now you’re going off to Afghanistan.
“The paper’s knew I was going out to Afghanistan anyway, so the way I was treated by them I don’t think is acceptable, but hey.”
He also claimed the press forced his brother William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge to reveal her pregnancy earlier than they wanted.
“I think it’s very unfair that they were forced to publicise it when they were but that’s just the media for you,” he claimed.
Harry later told ITV it was “great” being in Afghanistan because “it’s away from all the media back home, which is one of the really negative points of the UK I suppose".
And asked what he thought the public perception of him was he replied:
I don’t know, it fluctuates. It depends on what the media want to write I suppose. The media, I always believe, should have a responsibility on how they report on people.
We’ve seen too many times in the past someone behind a desk write a story about someone which can end up persuading the whole nation on people’s opinions of that individual.
I’m out here doing a job and I really enjoy it. I never wanted you guys to be out there but there was an agreement made to invite you out on a deal that the media doesn’t speculate before my deployment.
That’s the only reason you guys are out here. There’s no PR stunt, there’s nothing like that.