Prince Harry launches legal action against UK government over police protection

The duke was stripped of taxpayer-funded protection after he stepped back from royal duties

Britain's Prince Harry, pictured with his wife Megan, has launched a legal bid to overturn the UK government's decision preventing him from paying for his own police protection while in the country. Reuters

Britain’s Prince Harry has resorted to legal action against the UK government to overturn a decision preventing him from paying for his own police protection while visiting his home country.

Queen Elizabeth II's grandson, who is sixth in line to the British throne, wants to bring his wife Meghan and their two young children to the UK on a visit, a legal representative of the Duke of Sussex said.

But the representative argued the former full-time working royal is “unable to return to his home” with his family due to the security risks.

The prince believes his private security guards who protect his family in the US lack adequate jurisdiction abroad and access to UK intelligence information vital to ensuring the Sussexes’ safety.

Prince Harry wants his family to be protected by British police when they holiday in the UK – and is willing to pay for this himself, rather than expect taxpayers to foot the bill.

The former working royal lost his taxpayer-funded security after stepping back from royal duties in 2020.

He has filed a claim for a judicial review against the Home Office’s move.

Prince Harry with his brother Prince William unveiling a statue of their late mother Princess Diana at Kensington Palace in June 2021. Harry says is it unsafe to bring his family to the UK unless they have police protection. Reuters

“The UK will always be Prince Harry’s home and a country he wants his wife and children to be safe in,” the legal representative for the duke said in a statement.

“With the lack of police protection, comes too great a personal risk.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex personally fund a private security team for their family, yet that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the UK,” the spokesperson added.

“In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home.”

Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, have yet to introduce their seven-month-old daughter Lilibet to her great-grandmother the Queen and grandfather Prince Charles.

The couple announced they were stepping back from royal duties in January 2020 and had initially hoped to continue representing the Queen from the background.

However, after the monarch called a crisis summit of top royals at her Sandringham residence in Norfolk to discuss the “Megxit” deal, she refused to accept the half-in half-out approach tabled by her grandson and his wife.

At the meeting, also attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, Harry agreed he would no longer carry out official duties on behalf of his grandmother.

The Sussexes moved to the US at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and months later bought a home in Montecito, an area of Santa Barbara in California popular with celebrities.

The couple pay for their own security in the US.

Since moving to the US, Harry has returned to the UK on two occasions – to attend the funeral of his grandfather Prince Philip in April 2021 and to unveil a statue of his late mother Princess Diana in June the 2021.

During the second visit he also attended a garden party in Kew Gardens, west London, to meet seriously ill children and their families being helped by the charity WellChild.

It is understood the duke’s car was chased by photographers as he departed.

The incident is understood to have gone down badly with the prince, whose mother died in a 1997 Paris car crash after she was chased by the paparazzi.

Harry’s legal representative said he had “inherited a security risk at birth, for life”. They added that “in recent years his family has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats” and, therefore, police protection would be needed when the Sussexes visit the UK.

“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,” the representative added.

The bid for a judicial review was filed in September.

A spokesperson for the UK government said the country’s security arrangements are “rigorous and proportionate”.

“It is our long-standing policy not to provide detailed information on those arrangements,” they added. “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.”

Updated: January 16, 2022, 5:33 PM