Prince Harry lost a legal challenge on Tuesday in his bid to pay for police protection in Britain, days after he and his wife, Meghan, were caught in a highly disputed confrontation with photographers in New York City.
In one of two cases involving the prince’s security, the High Court in London rejected Harry’s request for a judicial review of a Home Office decision to reject his application to pay privately for protection. from the Metropolitan Police when he and his family visit Britain.
Home Office lawyers argued it was inappropriate for police officers, in fact, to be hired as private security guards.
In the United States, Harry and Meghan are protected by bodyguards licensed to carry weapons. But traveling to Britain poses a particular challenge because their private security guards are not allowed to carry guns.
Legal representatives for Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, argue that he and his family need a higher level of protection when visiting Britain, and that the prince is willing to pay for it out of his own pocket. .
Harry lost his automatic police protection when he and Meghan stepped down from their duties as working members of the royal family in 2020. He also challenged the process by which the Home Office refused to give him protection backed by the taxpayer – a claim that has not yet been decided.
The decision to pay for protection, which cannot be appealed, is a setback for Harry at a time when his security is under heightened scrutiny.
Last week, he and Meghan, along with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, were mobbed by photographers after they left an award ceremony in Midtown Manhattan. What happened after that is the subject of wildly conflicting accounts.
A spokesman for the couple described a “near-catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of very aggressive paparazzi.” But a taxi driver who briefly took the three said that there was no car chase and there was no reason for his passengers to be afraid, even though he admitted that they seemed to be alarmed.
A spokesperson for the New York Police Department said the photographers were defiant but added that the three arrived at their destination on the Upper East Side with no “reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests.”
At issue in the London case is whether the Home Office – through its Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, known by the acronym Ravec – has the right to reject Harry’s request to pay for security, because the police can be paid. to patrol private events such as soccer games.
“In my judgment, the short answer on this point is that Ravec did not say that it would be against the public interest to allow wealthy individuals to pay for any police services,” the judge, Martin Chamberlain, wrote his 10-page. ordered. “Its rationale is narrowly limited to the protective services that are within its purview.”
In addition to the security charges, Harry is involved in three lawsuits against London tabloid publishers – The Mirror, The Daily Mail, and The Sun – over allegations of cellphone hacking and other intrusions. his privacy.
The messy encounter with photographers in New York has thrust Harry and Meghan back into the headlines in Britain, just weeks after the prince made a fleeting, sad appearance at the coronation of his father, King Charles III. .
Some security experts argue that Harry faces a heightened threat because of his admission, in his memoir, “Spare,” that he killed 25 Taliban fighters during two combats. tours as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.
As a working king, the prince said he never traveled without three armed bodyguards. During negotiations with palace officials about his new status, Harry wrote in his memoir, he pleaded that the bodyguards be left in place, even though he lost all other royal benefits.
“I offered to pay the security costs out of my own pocket,” he wrote. “I’m not sure how I’m going to do that, but I’ll find a way.”