Prince Harry’s campaign to pay to have his police protection reinstated is “wrong” because it would put officers “in harm’s way,” a police court filing argues.
The Duke of Sussex has sued the U.K. Home Office twice as part of his campaign to get back his armed Metropolitan Police bodyguards during trips to Britain.
The protection detail was removed after he quit as a working royal and Harry has indicated he wants the right to pay out of his own pocket to get it back.
While the decision to remove his U.K. protection was made by a Home Office committee named RAVEC, the police have also opposed the move and, during a hearing on Tuesday, provided the High Court in London with a list of six “disadvantages” to complying with his request.
It reads: “It is wrong for a policing body to place officers in harm’s way upon payment of a fee by a private individual.
“It would be unjust to allow a wealthy principal [individual receiving protection] to pay for protective security when this would be denied a principal who did not benefit from such resources.
“To devote protection officers to principals who pay for them would divert such resources from those RAVEC has deemed to warrant protective security.
“To allow an individual to pay for protective security would create a precedent in which other wealthy individuals could argue that they too should be permitted to pay for such services.
“There is legal uncertainty as to whether such an arrangement could be delivered on public land because the central principle” under the Police Act 1996, “is that the police cannot charge for services which fall within their ordinary public duty, even if this were deemed otherwise appropriate (which it was not for the public policy reasons above).”
The final point made was that the advantages of allowing him to pay are “significantly outweighed by the disadvantages” when the individual, like Harry, already “benefits from an exceptional arrangement to provide police protective security” in some circumstances.
This appears to be a reference to the fact Harry does get taxpayer-funded police bodyguards if he has been formally invited to a public royal event, such as at King Charles III’s coronation or during the Platinum Jubilee in 2022.
Most police officers in England carry Tasers but not guns and are not trained to use firearms. Armed officers can only be deployed under tightly restricted circumstances, according to filing.
These include when police fear they or others may need protection from either a person with a gun or lethal weapon, or someone “so dangerous” that armed police would be “appropriate.”
Alternatively, they can be used as a contingency relating to a specific operation or the destruction of dangerous animals.
However, when police forces have operated outside the strict guidelines, they have been “subject to serious criticism,” the filing states.
Prince Harry’s legal team has been trying to save a judicial review lawsuit that has already been rejected by a judge in February 2023.
Harry argues the decision should not have been made by RAVEC, the Royal and VIP Executive Committee, but rather by the “chief officer.”
The prince has his own private security team but while in Britain they are not legally allowed to carry guns.
The case comes as Dai Davies, a former head of royalty protection, said Harry was more at risk in California than in London due to the prevalence of gun crime in Los Angeles.
Davies told GB News on Tuesday: “The truth is, as we saw for the coronation, he got 100 percent royal security. He even had a motorcycle escort, the SEG [Special Escort Group], back to the airport so he could catch his plane back. It’s cost you and I over £400,000 [nearly $500,000] so far.”
While Harry and Meghan initially moved to Los Angeles, they have since moved out of the city to Montecito.
“I work with the L.A. authorities, the police, and the FBI,” Davies continued. “Trust me it is 100 times more dangerous even than in London.
“So he’s chosen a place to live where he does arguably require it…the gun crime there is horrendous, and yet he’s chosen to live there.”
Davies said Princess Anne, King Charles III’s sister, does not always receive police protection: “We should bear in mind that the vast majority of the British royal family no longer get 24-hour security, so he is no longer a working royal and the risk assessment has decreed rightly or wrongly—and I’m not aware of all the facets that will go into that decision—that he is not going to get it. He will get it when he’s on a royal mission.”
He added: “If Princess Anne, who does more work than most of them, doesn’t get it 24/7, why on Earth should he, unless there’s evidence and there’s intelligence that he should have it?”
Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.
Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.