Prince Harry Skips First Day of Hacking Trial for Daughter Lilibet's Birthday, Absence Upsets Judge

Prince Harry is set to testify against the British tabloid that he claims hacked his cellphone a decade ago.

Prince Harry missed the first morning of his trail against Mirror Group Newspapers.

On Monday, the Duke of Sussex was not in the court room for the first day -- as according to his lawyer he was traveling overnight from Los Angeles to London, after celebrating his daughter Lilibet's second birthday at home in California with his wife, Meghan Markle.

A source tells ET that judge, Justice Timothy Fancourt, was "surprised" by his absence, as he requested that the duke be present for the first day as the first witness, should there be time for testimony. 

"Prince Harry did not show up for the first day he was expected to testify at the court proceeding against the Mirror Newspaper group this morning," the source says. "His lawyer David Sherbourne told the court that Prince Harry had flown overnight to London after celebrating Princess Lilibet’s birthday."

According to the source, Justice Fancourt expressed his displeasure with the royal's failure to show up as a witness saying, "I'm a little surprised that the first witness is not going to be available today."

Harry's team had been instructed that the duke should be present, should he have to take the stand. 

Justice Fancourt added, "That's why I directed the the first witness should be available."

Harry's lawyer, David Sherborne, explained that the Duke of Sussex is attending Tuesday to give evidence. Sherborne explained that the duke flew yesterday from Los Angeles as he was attending his daughter's birthday -- before being interrupted by the judge who expressed his displeasure. 

Sherborne replied that Harry was "in a different category than the other three claimants because of his travel arrangements and security arrangements."

Harry is set to testify against the newspaper group, as he claims they used methods such as phone hacking on multiple occasions to obtain information about him for articles throughout his life.

A source shared that Harry's lawyer's opening arguments laid out the cause for the trial.

"Harry's lawyer said in opening arguments that Harry's phone, 'would have been hacked on multiple occasions.' Some of the hacking allegations come during Piers Morgan’s stewardship as editor of The Mirror. The lawyer continued that there had been unlawful information gathering since the time he was young stating, "No time of his life where he was safe from these activities and the impact they caused.'"

Prince Harry taking the stand is set to be an historic move for the royal family. The duke will be the first member of the royal family to publicly testify during a trial in more than a century. Though he officially stepped down as a working member of the royal family in 2021, Harry remains fifth in line to the British royal throne, and his children, Archie, 4, and Lilibet, 2, are sixth and seventh, respectively. 

As for the support of his family during his legal proceedings, Harry's father, King Charles III, will not see him during his visit across the pond, as he is on a royal tour.

ET has learned that Prince Harry is not expected to see his father, who has been in Romania, while he gives evidence in his court proceeding.

Furthermore, the royal family did not extend public birthday wishes to Harry and Meghan Markle's daughter, Princess Lilibet on Sunday. As the move looks like a slight to the already tense relationship between the Sussexes and the royal family, a royal source tells ET, it's protocol. 

"It has never been protocol to share formal birthday wishes for non working members of the Royal Family or their children on the official channels," the royal source tells ET. "Any such birthday wishes should be shared privately." 

The royal family publicly wished Lilibet a happy first birthday on social media last year.