London, January 16: Britain’s Prince Harry, now based in the US with wife Meghan Markle and children Archie and Lilibet, is taking legal action over a Home Office decision to prevent him from paying for police protection for himself and his family during visits to the UK.
The 37-year-old Duke of Sussex, who stepped back from frontline royal duties in 2020, wants to fund the security for his family himself during a future visit to his home country. He reportedly does not want to ask British taxpayers to foot the bill, having stepped back as a senior member of the royal family.
“The UK will always be Prince Harry’s home and a country he wants his wife and children to be safe in, Harry’s legal representative 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. In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home,” it noted.
Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson and sixth in line to the British throne is believed to be arguing that his private protection team in the US does not have access to UK intelligence information, which is needed to keep his wife and children safe when they visit Britain.
Now based in California, Harry hopes to visit the UK with wife Meghan and seven-month-old daughter and two-year-old son. He has only travelled solo last year, to attend his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral in April and then to unveil a statue in memory of his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in July.
The application for a judicial review a legal challenge in the High Court in England against the decision of a public body or government department follows a security incident in London in July 2021 when Harry’s car was chased by photographers as he left a charity event.
His legal representative’s statement added: “Prince Harry inherited a security risk at birth, for life. 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.”
Prince Harry has spoken in the past about his security concerns ever since his mother, Princess Diana, died in a Paris car crash as her vehicle was chased by paparazzi photographers in August 1997.
A UK government spokesperson told the BBC that the country’s “protective security system is rigorous and proportionate”.
The spokesperson said: “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.” (PTI)