In January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their decision to leave the British royal family and live abroad. In doing so, Harry and Meghan were no longer allowed to use their “royal highness” styling or to receive public funds for royal duties. The UK Home Office also stripped the couple – who retain their titles as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – of their right to a royal police escort.
But Prince Harry was unhappy with this decision and filed for a judicial review, marking the first time a member of the royal family had filed a case against the UK government. On Monday, UK media revealed that the legal battle has cost UK taxpayers £296,882 ($357,000), according to data obtained though the Freedom of Information Act.
The case dates back to 2021, when the British tabloid The Mail On Sunday first published a story that Prince Harry was threatening legal action against the Home Office. In response to the news, a representative for the prince clarified that the goal of his legal challenge was “to ensure the safety of himself and his family while in the UK so his children can know his home country.”
While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a private security force, the representatives pointed out that this team had no jurisdiction in the UK or access to UK intelligence. The statement added that Prince Harry offered to pay for the cost of the police protection, but the offer was dismissed.
“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,” the statement said. “While [Prince Harry’s] 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 first hearing of the case was held in February 2022, at the High Court of Justice in London. The court heard that Prince Harry wanted to bring his son Archie and daughter Lilibet on a visit from the US, but was “unable to return to his home” because it was too dangerous.
“This claim is about the fact that the claimant does not feel safe when he is in the UK given the security arrangements that were applied to him in June 2021 and will continue to be applied to him if he returns,” said Shaheed Fatima, the prince’s lawyer. “And, of course, it should go without saying that he wants to come back: to see family and friends and to continue to support the charities that are so close to his heart. Most of all, this is, and always will be, his home.”
Lawyers for the UK Home Office responded that the amount Prince Harry was willing to pay for police security was irrelevant. “Personal protective security by the police is not available on a privately financed basis,” said Robert Palmer, a lawyer representing the British government. He argued that personal protective security for the prince is still considered by UK authorities on a “case-by-case basis” due to his “exceptional status”
The legal battle between Prince Harry and the UK Home Office will continue next April. It’s not clear whether it will be resolved by May 6, when King Charles III will have his coronation ceremony.
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