Prince Harry was tricked into a candid chat by two infamous pranksters. He's not the first.


Notorious Russian pranksters, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, have made a career out of targeting high-profile people.

Posing under false identities, they’ve exploited the trust of everyone from singer Elton John to actor Joaquin Phoenix and U.S. presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. They then post videos of their stings to YouTube for the amusement of their 99,000-plus followers.

Now, there are reports the pair have claimed a Royal as their latest scalp: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

What happened?

British tabloid, The Sun, has published details of two phone calls, in which Kuznetsov and Stolyarov — known as Vovan and Lexus — allegedly duped the Duke into believing he was speaking with climate activist, Greta Thunberg, and her father, Svante.

The conversations reportedly took place on New Year’s Eve and January 22 after the pair managed to get through to the 35-year-old’s new home in Canada.

The Sun claims that Prince Harry told ‘Greta’ about the decision that he and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, made to resign as working members of the Royal Family so they could focus on charitable and advocacy work.

He also allegedly criticised US President Donald Trump’s lack of response to the climate emergency and defended UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as being a decent man who is simply set in his ways.

What’s the response?

Recordings of the calls were reportedly posted to YouTube and social media, but have since been taken down.

Neither Kuznetsov or Stolyarov nor Prince Harry have commented on the prank.

Who are Vovan and Lexus?

Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov have been operating their YouTube channel, vovan22prank, since 2013.

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But the men, aged in their early-mid 30s, first achieved notoriety in 2015 when they phoned Elton John while posing as Russian president Vladimir Putin. The singer had previously expressed a desire to speak to the staunchly conservative leader about Russia’s (shockingly bad) gay rights record. (The real Putin did end up calling John after the hoax hit the headlines.)

In the years since, they’ve published pranks on a number of senior politicians including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (his office denied this, despite a recording), then-UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and President of France Emmanuel Macron.

In the past three months alone, they also managed to dupe Joker star Joaquin Phoenix, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters with the ‘Greta and Svante Thunberg’ ruse.

Given Kuznetsov and Stolyarov’s ability to get through to such high offices, some have speculated that the pair have links to Russian security services. But Stolyarov told The Guardian in 2016 that they operate entirely independently and have no political agenda.

“We work for ourselves, for nobody else,” he said. “People are always offering us to get involved in their dirty games. I was offered $100,000 to secretly prank an MP. But we refuse.”

Instead, they said they rely on a network of volunteers they recruit online to assist with certain tasks, and that they avoid detection by using multiple mobile phones and even more SIM cards.

The only person they said they would never target? Putin. “We don’t want to harm our country,” Stolyarov told The Guardian. “We don’t want unrest here; we don’t want to do anything that would help the enemies of Russia.”

Feature image: Getty.