The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were forced to move out of their Cotswolds hideaway after a paparazzi helicopter swooped over to take intrusive pictures, a court has heard.

The Grade II listed farmhouse, tucked away in four acres of private land in Oxfordshire, was rented by Harry and Meghan as they prepared for the arrival of their first child.

The royal couple were said to have selected the property due to the high levels of seclusion it afforded, which promised to keep away the prying lenses of photographers.

However, their plans for a life of rural solitude were dealt a blow when the location was made public on January 9, prompting a celebrity news agency to hire a helicopter to investigate.

Advertisement

READ MORE: • No staff at Frogmore: How Harry and Meghan plan to raise Archie

Splash News and Pictures flew at a "low altitude" over the farmhouse to take pictures and video, which gave a view directly into the bedroom, a privacy case launched by Harry claimed.

The shots were published by various news outlets in both print and online on January 11 in a move which was said to have "very seriously undermined" the couple's security.

Details of their hasty departure from the area came as legal action against the organisation concluded at the High Court.

Gerrard Tyrrell, solicitor to Harry, said the Duke and Duchess were "no longer" able to live in the house following the disclosure.

He told the hearing the "well-known paparazzi agency" had misused private information, breached the Duke's right to privacy, GDPR laws and the Data Protection Act.

Splash has since apologised and agreed to pay "substantial" damages and legal costs to the Royal, according to a prepared statement read to the court.

Harry's solicitor claims the Duke and Duchess were
Harry's solicitor claims the Duke and Duchess were "no longer" able to live in the house following the disclosure. Photo / Getty Images

Mr Tyrrell said: "The property had been chosen by the The Duke for himself and his wife, given the high level of privacy it afforded given its position in a secluded area surrounded by private farmland away from any areas to which photographers have access.

Advertisement

"The helicopter flew over the home at a low altitude, allowing Splash to take photographs of and into the living area and dining area of the home and directly into the bedroom."

Harry and Meghan chose to spend time in the Cotswolds while Frogmore Cottage, their new home in Windsor, underwent £3 million in renovation work earlier this year.

It was reported the temporary country retreat was worth an estimated £2.5 million and dated from the 18th century.

Mr Tyrrell continued: "The photographs were taken for commercial gain and syndicated for that purpose."

He added: "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."

The photographs were subsequently removed from sale by Splash, which also agreed not to use "any aerial means" to take pictures of the Duke's private home again.

Neither Harry nor Meghan were in court to see the privacy case concluded, but the Duke later acknowledged and welcomed the formal apology.

All damages he received were donated to charity, it was claimed.

A spokesman for Splash News said: "Splash has always recognised that this situation represents an error of judgement and we have taken steps to ensure it will not be repeated.

"We apologise to the Duke and Duchess for the distress we have caused."

The royal couple have since returned to live in Frogmore Cottage, where they will raise their son Archie, who was born at the start of the month.

They have already taken steps to guard the baby's privacy by choosing not to release his birth certificate publicly, in a break with Royal Family custom.