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Prince Harry accepts apology from news agency for intrusive images of living room, bedroom

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Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan introduce baby Archie to the world two days after his birth.
USA TODAY

Prince Harry has won another battle for his privacy rights in the face of what he considers media “intrusions.”

The Duke of Sussex settled privacy and data protection claims against a news agency that hovered over his country home in a helicopter in January, taking photos directly into his living room and bedroom. 

Buckingham Palace said Thursday that Harry accepted “substantial damages” and an apology from Splash News and Picture Agency. The figure was not disclosed; it is expected Harry will donate the money to charity.

“The Duke of Sussex acknowledges and welcomes the formal apology from Splash News and Picture Agency,” the palace statement said. 

In a longer statement read in open court, Harry’s lawyer said the home in the English countryside was chosen because of “the high level of privacy it afforded,” but that now he and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, feel “they are no longer able to live at the property.”

The leased country retreat was in the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire, under two hours northwest of London.

Harry’s lawyer, Gerrard Tyrrell, said in his statement that Harry asserts Splash’s tactics breached his right to privacy and the U.K.’s data protection acts.

Splash says it “recognized that this situation represents an error of judgment,” and promised it would not happen again. “We apologize to the Duke and Duchess for the distress we have caused,” the agency said in a statement.

Tyrrell said photographs of the home were published by The Times newspaper, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and also online by other media outlets.

The Sun, also owned by News Corp, published and tweeted a picture of the home in early January, but the photo was not identified as a Splash photo. That story in turn was picked up by publications such as Brides magazine.

Also in January, The Daily Mail published what it claimed was “the first picture” of Harry and Meghan’s Cotswolds “country hideaway,” although it did not identify the picture as a Splash photo. Later, The Mail reported that Harry and Meghan were leaving their “Cotwswolds country bolthole,” where they had been spending weekends, in March because of “security concerns.”   

“No consent was given to the actions taken by Splash,” Tyrell’s statement said. “The Duke has had to engage his solicitors to take steps to try to secure the removal of the photographs from these websites. The syndication and publication of the photographs very seriously undermined the safety and security of The Duke and the home to the extent that they are no longer able to live at the property.”

Harry and Meghan, plus their newborn son, Archie, who was born May 6, are now living at their newly renovated Frogmore Cottage home on the Windsor Castle estate, about 25 miles west of London, which affords them more privacy than Kensington Palace in London where they had been based.  

The young royals, especially Harry, have increasingly chafed about what they view as intrusions by the media and have sought to defend their privacy rights in the courts.

Aspects of Archie’s birth, including where he was born, have not been disclosed because Harry and Meghan want to keep it “private.”

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The entire royal family gathers on Buckingham Palace balcony after the Trooping the Colour parade. In this picture, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are seen with the queen, her son, Prince Andrew of York, Duchess Camilla of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Duchess Kate of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte and Prince George, Prince William, and one of the queen’s great-granddaughters, Savannah Phillips. LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 09: Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Princess Beatrice, Lady Louise Windsor, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Savannah Phillips, Prince George of Cambridge and Isla Phillips watch the flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping The Colour on June 9, 2018 in London, England. The annual ceremony involving over 1400 guardsmen and cavalry, is believed to have first been performed during the reign of King Charles II. The parade marks the official birthday of the Sovereign, even though the Queen’s actual birthday is on April 21st. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775171454 ORIG FILE ID: 970405304 Chris Jackson/ Getty Images

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In September 2018, a French court of appeals upheld a 2017 ruling that two directors of Closer should be fined about $52,500 for breaching the privacy of the sunbathing duchess in publishing the photos. The court also upheld fines for the two photographers who snapped the pictures.

At the time of the original ruling in September 2017, Will and Kate’s office issued a statement saying they were pleased, as they “wished to make the point strongly that this kind of unjustified intrusion should not happen.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

More: Prince Harry, who ‘couldn’t imagine life without’ son Archie, gets his kid fix in Oxford

More: Prince William, Kate visit royal baby Archie, Prince Charles to visit this week

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  • Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are thinking about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP) ORG XMIT: LON1401 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1GA04T2 of 19
  • Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan pose with their newborn son during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019 .3 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are thinking about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP) ORG XMIT: LON2114 of 19
  • WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose with their newborn son during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019 in Windsor, England. The Duchess of Sussex gave birth at 05:26 on Monday 06 May, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775338628 ORIG FILE ID: 11421644405 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1GA0B86 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1GA01E7 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are thinking about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP) ORG XMIT: LON1098 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1GA0729 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are thinking about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP) ORG XMIT: LON11310 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are thinking about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP) ORG XMIT: LON11111 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive for a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are thinking about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP) ORG XMIT: LON11212 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1GA08B13 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1GA08A14 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R), and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1GA01F15 of 19
  • WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose with their newborn son during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019 in Windsor, England. The Duchess of Sussex gave birth at 05:26 on Monday 06 May, 2019. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775338628 ORIG FILE ID: 114216185816 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are thinking about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP) ORG XMIT: LON11317 of 19
  • Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex pose with their newborn son in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019.18 of 19
  • Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, leaves after a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are thinking about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP) ORG XMIT: LON14119 of 19

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