(Bloomberg) -- Prince Harry testified in a London court that his life has been blighted by intrusion from Britain’s tabloid press, marking the first time in more than 130 years that a member of the royal family has given evidence at trial.

The prince, who has consistently refused to settle long standing hacking claims where others have, appeared at the High Court in a highly anticipated civil lawsuit against MGN Ltd., the publishers of tabloid newspapers the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and The Sunday People. 

“As a child every single one of these article played a disruptive role in my growing up,” Prince Harry said on Tuesday. “I’ve experienced hostility by the press since I was born.”

A handful of historic phone-hacking cases are making their way back through London’s courts, stirring up old battles that took place nearly a decade ago and led to criminal convictions and wide-ranging recommendations for British media reform. 

He is one of four claimants, out of 100 public figures, suing the publisher over unlawful information gathering activities by journalists. The allegations date back as far as 1991 and continued on until at least 2011, according to court documents. The techniques include phone hacking, the use of unlawful blagging of information and private investigators to break stories.

“It was not just the journalists who were carrying out the unlawful activity, but also those in power who were turning a blind eye to it so as to ensure that it would continue unabated,” the prince said in his witness statement. 

“How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness,” he said.

A lawyer for MGN said the time limit for these claims has long expired and the claimants should have started proceedings years ago, according to court documents prepared for the trial. 

Lawyers said these claims have been ongoing since 2012 and in 2015 there was a high-profile trial where damages were paid and the paper admitted liability and apologized to the victims. 

Andrew Green, MGN’s lawyer, apologized to Prince Harry for one count of unlawful newsgathering before questioning began and said he would be entitled to damages if further acts were proved.

“MGN is now part of a very different company,” a company spokesperson said. “We are committed to acting with integrity and our objective in this trial is to allow both the business and our journalists to move forward from events that took place many years ago.” 

Prince Harry and Elton John are separately suing Associated Newspapers Ltd. for widespread privacy breaches.

The last prominent royal to appear in a London court was Queen Victoria’s son who would later become King Edward VII in the 1890s.


--With assistance from Thomas Seal.

(Updates with comment from MGN spokesperson in 11th paragraph)

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