Prince Harry addressed rumors about his mother's affair.

Prince Harry Addressed "Very Damaging" Rumor That King Charles Isn't His Dad

The rumors “felt very damaging and real” to then-18-year-old Prince Harry.

by Jen McGuire

There was a rumor circulating throughout British tabloids and the media for decades about Prince Harry. Specifically, about Prince Harry’s parentage. There was never any doubt placed on the fact that he is indeed the son of the late Princess Diana, but King Charles’ paternity was called into question by several newspapers. And now Prince Harry is finally addressing those “hurtful, mean, and cruel” rumors in a public statement in his phone-hacking court case against British media organization Mirror Group Newspaper Limited.

The father of two shared a lengthy witness statement, published in full in The New York Times, about how he has been impacted by media coverage of his life. One instance being the rumor that Major James Hewitt, a man his mother Princess Diana was alleged to have had a relationship with during her marriage, was his father instead of King Charles. Prince Harry pointed to a 2002 piece that ran in The People, a British tabloid owned by the Mirror Group, called “Plot to rob the DNA of Harry.”

Prince Harry explained in his witness statement, “Numerous newspapers had reported a rumor that my biological father was James Hewitt, a man my mother had a relationship with after I was born. At the time of this article and others similar to it, I wasn't actually aware that my mother hadn't met Major Hewitt until after I was born.”

Prince Harry’s parentage was called into question.Anwar Hussein/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Prince Harry was just 18 years old at the time of the article, and his mother Princess Diana had died six years earlier. These rumors “felt very damaging and real to me” when they were published, he explained in his statement. “They were hurtful, mean and cruel. I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories. Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the Royal Family?”

The persistent rumors about his parentage were upsetting enough to Prince Harry, who is a dad himself to 4-year-old son Archie and 2-year-old daughter Lilibet, that he wrote about them in his memoir Spare as well. “One cause of this rumor was Major Hewitt's flaming ginger hair, but another cause was sadism,” the Duke of Sussex wrote in Spare. “Tabloid readers were delighted by the idea that the younger child of Prince Charles wasn't the child of Prince Charles. They couldn't get enough of this 'joke,' for some reason. Maybe it made them feel better about their lives that a young prince's life was laughable.”

King Charles reportedly made “remarkably unfunny” jokes about the rumor himself, according to Prince Harry, writing in Spare, per Page Six, “Pa liked telling stories, and this was one of the best in his repertoire. He’d always end with a burst of philosophizing … Who knows if I’m really the Prince of Wales? Who knows if I’m even your real father?’”