Prince Harry's historic showdown Tuesday with the publisher of a British tabloid exposed his deep suspicions of the press but offered little concrete evidence to support accusations of phone hacking that he said caused so much anguish in his life.
The Duke of Sussex became the first senior member of the royal family to testify in more than a century as he held a Bible in his right hand and, in a soft voice, swore to tell the "whole truth and nothing but the truth" in the High Court in London.
Harry accuses the publisher of the Daily Mirror of using unlawful techniques on an "industrial scale" to score front-page scoops on his life.
Harry told Mirror Group Newspapers attorney Andrew Green that he had "experienced hostility from the press since I was born." The prince accused the tabloids of playing "a destructive role in my growing-up."
Green apologized for the one instance Mirror Group has admitted to hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt on Harry, which was not among the claims he has brought. Mirror Group denies or doesn't admit his other allegations.
Green acknowledged that the duke had lived a life of tabloid intrusion, and then in a sympathetic tone set about dismantling his case.
Taken back in time to his 12th birthday and onward through early adulthood, he was confronted with articles that he has complained about and asked to identify the source of wrongdoing by Mirror Groups's journalists.
Harry was forced almost immediately to acknowledge that he wasn't certain he read the 33 specific articles about him when they were published.
"Is it realistic, when you have been the subject of so much press intrusion by so many press, both domestic and international, to attribute specific distress to a particular article from 20 years ago, which you may not have seen at the time?" Green asked.
"It isn't a specific article; it is all of the articles," Harry said. "Every single article has caused me distress."
He suggested the articles were the result of phone hacking or some other unlawful information gathering method that "desperate journalists" relied on for any news nugget about his life.
The 38-year-old son of King Charles III is the first senior British royal since the 19th century to face questioning in a court. An ancestor, the future King Edward VII, appeared as a witness in a trial over a gambling scandal in 1891.
Harry has said the royal family avoided legal entanglements to prevent having to be put in the witness box.
The case dates from 1996 to 2011 — a period when phone hacking by tabloid journalists was later discovered to have been widespread. It led to revelations of more intrusive means such as phone tapping, home bugging and using deception to obtain flight information and medical records.
Setting out the prince's case, his lawyer, David Sherborne, said Monday that from Harry's childhood, British newspapers used skulduggery to cover all facets of his life — from school injuries to experimenting with marijuana and cocaine, to ups and downs with girlfriends.
"Nothing was sacrosanct or out of bounds" for the tabloids, the lawyer said.
Green said Monday that there was "simply no evidence capable of supporting the finding that the Duke of Sussex was hacked, let alone on a habitual basis."
Mirror Group has paid more than 100 million pounds ($125 million) to settle hundreds of unlawful information-gathering claims and printed an apology to phone hacking victims in 2015.