Britain's Prince Harry and singer Elton John made a surprise appearance at London's High Court on Monday as they and five others began a lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mail paper over years of alleged phone-tapping and privacy breaches.
Harry, the younger son of King Charles, has brought a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers (ANL), along with John, his husband David Furnish, and actors Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost.
They allege they were victims of "numerous unlawful acts" carried out by journalists or private investigators working on behalf of ANL titles the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.
These included hacking mobile phone messages, bugging calls, getting private information such as medical records by deception or "blagging", and "even commissioning the breaking and entry into private property", court documents from their lawyers said.
The alleged activity ran from 1993 to 2011, and even up to 2018, the lawyers said.
ANL, which is seeking to have the case thrown out, said in a statement it categorically denied the allegations and would vigorously defend them if necessary.
Harry, who flew in from his California home, sat just feet away from reporters, watching intently and taking notes. His spokesperson said he wanted to be there to show his support and he might attend for much of the four-day preliminary hearing.
Elton John, Furnish and Frost were also in court on Monday. None of the claimants are expected to speak during the hearing, which they were not required to attend.