The phones of Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton and Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, were hacked by staff working for Rupert Murdoch’s defunct News of the World tabloid, it was revealed in a London court on Thursday.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis told London’s Old Bailey criminal court that recordings of messages to Kate from William, including one in which he called her “babykins,” were discovered at the home of the paper’s ex-royal editor and a private eye working for the tabloid in 2006.
“Hi baby, it’s me,” William, second-in-line to the British throne, said in one message read to the jury by Edis.
The message detailed how he had nearly been shot with blank bullets after getting lost on a training exercise while at the military academy Sandhurst.
The News of the World then ran stories which included details of the calls, the court was told.
William and Kate met as students at St Andrew’s University in Scotland in 2001 and married in a spectacular ceremony in April, 2011, watched by up to two billion people globally.
The court also heard extracts of transcripts of a message left on the phone of Williams’s younger brother Harry in which a unknown male put on a high voice and pretended to be Harry’s then girlfriend Chelsy Davy and called him “ginger,” referring to his hair color.
The paper later ran a story saying the message was from William.
While it was known that royal aides had previously been targeted by the paper, it was the first time it had been disclosed that any royal family members themselves were victims.
In August 2006 the royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were arrested and later charged with hacking the telephones of royal aides by accessing voicemail messages.
The then-editor Andy Coulson is on trial, along with six others, accused of a variety of offences including conspiracy to illegally intercept voicemails from mobiles. They all deny the charges.
In January 2007, both Goodman and Mulcaire admitted the charges and were sentenced to four and six months imprisonment respectively.
Mulcaire has now pleaded guilty to further phone-hacking charges while three senior journalists from the tabloid have also admitted conspiracy to tap mobile messages.