UK court hearing reveals tension between Prince Harry and royal household over security

The Duke of Sussex is concerned for the safety of his children when they visit the UK

Prince Harry is challenging a 2020 decision that he would no longer be given the 'same degree' of personal protective security when visiting the UK. Photo: Reuters
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Tensions between Harry, Duke of Sussex, and the British royal household were revealed in a UK court on Thursday as he challenged a decision over his protective security.

Prince Harry is bringing legal action in the High Court over a decision to not allow him to pay for police protection for himself and his family while in the UK.

He is challenging the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) that he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting.

“He didn't know at that stage that the royal household was involved at all … he was told it was an independent decision,” Shaeed Fatima QC, for the duke, told the court.

She also said there were “significant tensions” between Prince Harry and Queen Elizabeth II's private secretary, Sir Edward Young, at that time.

In written arguments, Ms Fatima said Prince Harry was not given a “clear and full explanation” of the composition of Ravec or that those involved in its decision-making included the royal household.

Ms Fatima said he was denied the opportunity to make representations directly to Ravec and was “materially prejudiced” because “among other things, his offer to pay (for security) was not conveyed to Ravec before the decision was made”.

“He does not know what else — as communicated by him to the royal household — was not fully/timeously conveyed to Ravec,” she said.

“He was deprived of the opportunity to comment on the appropriateness of Ravec's process (and) the involvement of certain individuals in the Ravec process before the decision being made.

“It is arguable that, if there had been a fair process, Ravec would or could have reached a different decision.”

Lawyers for the UK's Home Office say Ravec was entitled to reach the decision it did, which is that the duke's security arrangements will be considered on a “case by case” basis, and argue that permission for a full judicial review should be refused.

Sir James Eadie QC, representing the Home Office, said in written arguments that any tensions between Prince Harry and royal household officials are “irrelevant” to his change in status.

“In his skeleton, the claimant now refers to objections he might have made to any role being played by officials of the royal household in Ravec's decision-making — apparently because of personal tensions he felt with them,” he said.

“But there is no bias challenge and any such tensions are irrelevant to the undisputed fact of the claimant's change in status which led to the decision of Ravec.

“The inability of the claimant even now to explain how a process of representations could or would have assisted is striking.”

Sir James also said there is “no basis for the court to conclude that it would be anything other than highly likely” that allowing Prince Harry to make representations to Ravec before the decision was made “would not have led to that decision being substantially different, or even at all different”.

The duke's legal team are seeking to argue that the security arrangements set out in a letter from Ravec, and their application when he visited the UK in June 2021, were invalid owing to “procedural unfairness” because he was not given an opportunity to make “informed representations beforehand”.

The duke said he wants to bring his children to visit from the US, but he and his family are “unable to return to his home” because it is too dangerous, a representative previously said.

Prince Harry's lawyers are asking Mr Justice Swift to grant permission for a full judicial review of the Home Office's decision.

Updated: July 07, 2022, 7:40 PM