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UK too dangerous for us to visit, says Prince Harry

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-01-16
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Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

The Duke of Sussex believes the UK is too dangerous for him and his family to visit without state protection, as it emerged he is taking legal action against the government to allow him to pay privately for police security while in Britain.

Prince Harry lost taxpayer-funded police security when he and Meghan stepped back from royal duties in 2020. The couple pay for private security in the US, where they now live.

Harry is seeking a judicial review against a Home Office decision that prevents him personally paying for police protection for him and his family while in the UK. His legal representative said the duke’s private security team did not have adequate jurisdiction abroad or access to UK intelligence information required to protect him, his wife, and their children, Archie and Lilibet. They said the family had been subjected to “well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats”.

Responding to reports, first published by the Mail on Sunday , the representative said the prince, who filed for judicial review in September, was “unable to return to his home” because it was too dangerous. They added Harry had first offered to pay privately for Scotland Yard protection at the Sandringham summit in 2020, where senior royals and their aides met to hammer out the exit strategy for the Sussexes, but that his offer was dismissed.

If the case progresses, it will lead to a high court battle between ministers and Harry, thought to be the first occasion in modern times when a member of the royal family has brought a case against Her Majesty’s government.

The couple’s concerns follow an incident in London in 2021, when Harry returned to the UK for the unveiling of the statute of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and his car was reportedly chased by photographers as he left a charity event.

Harry’s legal threat comes ahead of his grandmother’s platinum jubilee , and raises questions over whether he and his family will attend celebrations in the UK over the jubilee bank holiday weekend in June.

A spokesperson said the Sussexes believed the UK threat level is particularly high, greater than that faced in the US, where not only can private security be deployed but where, they believe, law enforcement organisations are allowed to bemore supportive.

The couple believe that in the UK the controversy surrounding their departure from full-time royal service, and the hostility of a range of extremist groups and fixated people, make the environment particularly risky.

Harry will challenge the decision-making on the grounds it is unreasonable, opaque and inconsistent. The spokesperson said the decision had taken insufficient account of Harry’s position, undiminished threat and any impact on the UK’s reputation of a senior member of the royal family being harmed on UK soil.

Harry is said to want to pay for necessary security to ensure he and his family are safe, but he cannot unless the Home Office approves his offer. He believes his own private security cannot replicate the standard of security he would receive from the state.

“The UK will always be Prince Harry’s home and a country he wants his wife and children to be safe in,” his legal spokesperson said. “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. In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home.

“The duke first offered to pay personally for UK police protection for himself and his family in January of 2020 at Sandringham. That offer was dismissed. He remains willing to cover the cost of security, so as not to impose on the British taxpayer. As is widely known, others who have left public office and have an inherent threat risk receive police protection at no cost to them.

“The goal for Prince Harry has been simple – to ensure the safety of himself and his family while in the UK so his children can know his home country.”

The representative said Harry was sixth in line to the throne, had served two tours of Afghanistan and in recent years his family “has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats”.

A government spokesperson said: “The UK government’s protective security system is rigorous and proportionate. It is our longstanding 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.”

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