HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: Harry and Meghan's year of revenge is coming to a righteous end.

Who's Prince Harry mad at? 

If you read Spare, if you watched the Netlfix documentary (happy anniversary to those six hours of my life), if you heard him talk to Oprah, or Deepak Chopra, or any of the carefully-selected beneficiaries of his words, you'll think the answer is... Everyone. 

His dad. His brother. His sister-in-law. The "Palace". You know, his family, generally. 

You'd be wrong. Prince Harry has had a singular focus, these past few years. 

He wants to punish the press for what they did to him, his wife and his mother

He wants to make them pay for turning his parents against each other. He wants to get revenge for the teenage boy he once was, who couldn't smoke a joint without it making front page news. He wants to get them to admit they hounded his ex-girlfriend, that they poisoned his relationship with his dad and that they deployed racist, misogynistic tactics against his wife that pushed her to the edge of sanity.

And this week, he got a win. 

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In a landmark ruling, London's High Court made a ruling that has awarded him financial damages that would be substantial to most - about $210,000 - but would barely pay his monthly security bill. But much more importantly, the ruling also told him that no, he wasn't paranoid - for a period of time in the noughties, journalists at the Mirror Group newspapers were hacking his phone. 


“Today’s ruling is vindicating and affirming," he said in a statement, immediately afterwards. "I’ve been told that slaying dragons will get you burned but in light of today’s victory and the importance of doing what is needed for a free and honest press, it is a worthwhile price to pay. The mission continues.”

Slaying dragons sounds a bit much, right? But in this case, for Harry, and a broader group of celebrities, public figures and just ordinary people who found themselves tangled in the news cycle, it's about right. They knew there was something off about the way they were being covered in newspapers by these enormous then-all-powerful media companies, and they were right. 

Plenty of eyes rolled when Harry flew into London to give evidence at the trial earlier this year. Here was Flash Harry, Hollywood Harry, turning up in a blaze of publicity to complain about publicity again. He was the first royal to give evidence in court for 130 years. 

He provided the court with 148 stories he suspected were sourced by dodgy means - reporters listening into phone calls and gathering intelligence in illegal ways - and the judge looked at 33 of them. Of the 33, he ruled 15 were obtained this way. Meaning, yes, Harry, you were hacked. 

Written between 2006-2011, the stories included: That time 17-year-old Harry smoked a spliff in a country pub and what his dad said when he found out. That time Harry and William had a row about whether they should go and talk to their mother's former butler to stop him selling secrets. And several stories about arguments he had with Chelsy Davy, the girlfriend he dated for six years before she decided that no, this level of scrutiny was not a way to live. 


Some of these stories might seem petty, a price to pay for extreme privilege, but growing up under a constant anxious cloud of mistrust has messed with Harry's head, something he freely admits, and ruined countless relationships. And he's not letting it go. 

The fury Harry feels at this arm of the press radiates from him whenever it's discussed. Holding them to account has been his real purpose ever since he opted out of the system - and the country - and now it's winning him respect and support from others. 

Hugh Grant, who has also sued newspapers over this, donating the profits to anti-hacking group Hacked Off, has said about Harry: “I think as a man, it’s his job to protect his family, so I’m with him.”

And now Steve Coogan, another British actor who's also been at war with the tabloids, says he thinks Harry's victory is only the beginning of something bigger.

"What this shows is the contempt that newspaper editors had for a judge-led public inquiry," he told the BBC about the Harry verdict. "Now we've got prima facia evidence of crimes having been committed, perjury being one of the most serious.

"The police need to apply the law evenly and fairly, without fear or favour. It doesn't matter how much time has passed."

What he means is, this is a civil case, and it needs to move back to a criminal court. 

Certainly Harry agrees, considering this a beginning, rather than an end. "The mission continues," he said in his statement.

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Of course, he and Meghan's critics see this is all as further proof of hypocrisy and attention-seeking, two claims that follow the Sussexes all the way from the High Court to the warm ocean breezes of Montecito. 

But many of those critics are the very people implicated in this case. 

People like Piers Morgan. The man who's most famous, these days, for hating Harry's wife Meghan with the fire of 1000 suns was the editor of the Mirror newspaper between 1995-2004, and the judge said that there could be "no doubt" he was aware of the hacking. 

Morgan responded by standing outside his house in front of a bank of TV cameras and saying, Harry “wouldn’t know truth if it slapped him in his California-tanned face”.

It's all theatre, of course, but it's theatre that serves Harry's cause, not Morgan's. If you've been wondering, this year, what the game plan has been for Harry and Megs, as they lie comparatively low (low compared to tell-all books and Netflix specials, granted), you now know. Harry's game plan is less to destroy the monarchy (he likes his title, thanks) and more to destroy Britain's legacy media, and in the process of doing so, all those who wronged his mother and his wife. 

If you thought Taylor Swift could hold a righteous grudge, you need to watch and learn as Harry makes his next move.

The only sour tang in the victory champagne is that uncomfortable truth that he and Meghan need the media to make a living. 

Whether any of it will be left on their side when Harry's finished slaying his demons - we mean, dragons - remains to be seen. 

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia.

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