16 January 2022

What is the issue with Prince Harry’s security if he returns to the UK?

16 January 2022

The Duke of Sussex has said he is unable to bring his family back to the UK because it is too dangerous without police protection.

So what is the situation with Harry’s security and what legal action is he taking in relation to it?

– Are Harry and his family covered by security arrangements currently?

The couple spoke to Oprah Winfrey about losing their security in the UK (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions/PA) (PA Media)

He and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, personally fund a private protection team in the US for their family.

The Sussexes have signed multimillion-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, with Harry telling Oprah Winfrey he secured these to pay for his security.

But he and Meghan lost their taxpayer-funded police protection in the UK in the aftermath of quitting as senior working royals.

– Why did they lose their taxpayer-funded security?

Their security provision was one of the key issues when the couple announced they wanted to step down in 2020.

Speaking to Winfrey during the couple’s sit-down interview in 2021, Harry said he was told that “due to our change of status – we would no longer be ‘official’ members of the royal family”.

He said he had been shocked by this and “pushed back” on the issue, arguing that there had been no change of threat or risk to the couple.

Meghan, during the same interview, told how she had written to her husband’s family urging them not to “pull his security”, but had been told “it’s just not possible”.

At the time of announcing their stepping back from royal life in 2020, their website suggested the Home Office, through the Metropolitan Police, should continue to provide protection for the couple and Archie, their only child at the time.

– Have they offered to pay for police protection in the UK themselves?

Harry said he inherited a risk when he was born into the royal family (British GQ/PA) (PA Media)

Yes. Harry wants to fund the security himself, rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill, his legal representative said.

He first offered to personally pay for police protection in the UK for himself and his family during the so-called Sandringham summit in January 2020, but the legal representative said that offer “was dismissed”.

The representative added that Harry “remains willing to cover the cost of security, as not to impose on the British taxpayer”.

– Can they use the same security team they have while in the US?

Harry’s legal representative said that while the couple personally fund a private security team for their family, “that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the UK”.

His argument is that the US team does not have adequate jurisdiction abroad or access to UK intelligence information which is needed to keep the Sussex family safe.

– But hasn’t Harry been back to the UK since stepping back from his royal role?

Harry returned from LA for the unveiling of a statue in memory of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

Yes, and Harry said that during his short trip last summer his security was compromised “due to the absence of police protection”.

He returned from Los Angeles for the July 1 unveiling of the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial statue. The day before, on June 30, he met seriously ill children and young people at a WellChild garden party and afternoon tea in Kew Gardens, west London.

It is understood his car was chased by photographers as he left that charity event.

Harry’s mother Diana died in a car crash after she was chased by the paparazzi in Paris.

– So what is Harry doing about the issue of his UK security now?

In September 2021, he filed a claim for a judicial review against the Home Office decision not to allow him to personally pay for police protection for himself and his family while in the UK.

His legal team said this course of action was taken “after another attempt at negotiations was also rejected”.

They said the judicial review bid is an attempt to “challenge the decision-making behind the security procedures, in the hopes that this could be re-evaluated for the obvious and necessary protection required”.

– What threats do the couple see themselves as facing in the UK?

Harry served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Archive)

Harry has said he “inherited” a risk on being born into the royal family.

His legal team said that risk is “for life”.

In a statement, the legal representative said: “He remains sixth in line to the throne, served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan, and in recent years his family has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats. While his role within the Institution has changed, his profile as a member of the Royal Family has not. Nor has the threat to him and his family.”

– Has the Home Office said anything about the bid for judicial review?

A Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government’s protective security system is rigorous and proportionate. It is our long-standing policy not to provide detailed information on those arrangements. To do so could compromise their integrity and affect individuals’ security.

“It would also not be appropriate to comment on the detail of any legal proceedings.”

– Will the couple return to the UK if the issue is not resolved in the way they would like?

Harry wants to bring his children to visit from the US, but it is too dangerous, a legal representative said (Misan Harriman/The Duke and Duchess of Sussex/PA) (PA Media)

A spokesperson for the duke has said that, in the absence of what they consider to be the necessary protection, “Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home”.

They insisted the UK “will always be Prince Harry’s home”, adding that it is “a country he wants his wife and children to be safe in”.

But they added: “With the lack of police protection, comes too great a personal risk.”

– If the legal claim was filed in September, why are we only hearing about it now?

Harry’s representative said: “It is due to a leak in a UK tabloid, with surreptitious timing, we feel it necessary to release a statement setting the facts straight.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox