Prince Harry has threatened the Government with legal action over its decision to remove his taxpayer-funded security, The Mail on Sunday can reported.
Lawyers acting for Harry, who stepped down from Royal duties two years ago, have written a ‘pre-action protocol’ letter to the Home Office, indicating they will seek a judicial review if continued security is not provided by the UK.
If the case proceeds, it will lead to a battle in the High Court between Ministers and Prince Harry.
The Queen is understood to have been made aware of her grandson’s action, which is thought to be the first time a member of the Royal Family has brought a case against Her Majesty’s Government.
A source said: ‘Harry’s argument, in a nutshell, is: ‘You got the law wrong.’ He feels the decision to remove his security was wrong. The pre-action protocol was sent by Harry’s lawyers to the Home Office a couple of months ago. This is essentially a precursor to a judicial review.’
Suggesting why Harry may have chosen now – two years after ‘Megxit’ – to launch his legal bid, the source added: ‘When Harry came back last April for Prince Philip’s funeral, he was given security. But when he came back in the summer, he wasn’t.’
Ahead of the funeral, Harry traveled to Britain with his private security team but was met on the tarmac at Heathrow by Scotland Yard protection officers.
It is understood that was not the case when he returned to the UK for the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana at Kensington Palace with his brother William in July. Following a 20-minute reception after the unveiling, Harry left with bodyguards thought to have been provided at his own expense.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made no secret of their unhappiness at the removal of their taxpayer-funded security.
The couple was living in Canada – guarded by publicly funded British UK and Canadian security – when ‘Megxit’ was announced in January 2020.
At the same time, the security section of their new website – on which they detailed their notion of a ‘new working model’ – described them as ‘internationally protected people’. But the ‘working model’ had not been agreed by the Queen and the section was swiftly removed.
Following crisis talks at Sandringham, it was eventually agreed that the Sussexes would no longer use their ‘HRH’ titles and Harry was stripped of his military honors.
Meanwhile, a ‘Royal and VIP Executive Committee’ comprising the Home Secretary, the Metropolitan Police’s royalty protection command chief, and palace officials decided that the couple’s 24-hour protection could not continue given they were no longer working royals living in Britain.
That decision clearly rankled with Harry, who used the bombshell TV interview with US chatshow host Oprah Winfrey last March to express his anger at it.
He said: ‘The biggest concern was that while we were in Canada, in someone else’s house, I then got told at short notice security was going to be removed… Their justification is a change in status, of which I pushed back and said, ‘Well, is there a change of threat or risk?’
‘And after many weeks of waiting, eventually, I got the confirmation that no, the risk and threat hasn’t changed but [it was] due to our change in status, [by] which we would no longer be official working members of the Royal Family.’ He added: ‘My family literally cut me off financially and I had to afford security for us.’
Oprah Winfrey said the couple were not paid for the interview, but Harry had, by then, received a reported £500,000 fee to give a keynote speech to J P Morgan bankers in Miami.
Before moving into their nine-bedroom, £10 million home in Montecito, California, they were given the use of a mansion owned by entertainment tycoon Tyler Perry, who also provided the couple with security.
Meghan told Winfrey: ‘We needed a house and he offered security as well, so it gave us breathing room to try to figure out what we were going to do.’
Harry’s decision to instruct his lawyers, Schillings, to threaten legal action against the Government could inflame tensions with his family.
It also provides a further headache for the Queen only days after she stripped Prince Andrew of his military honors and charity patronages after a US judge ruled that a claim of sex abuse made against him – and vehemently denied – would proceed.
Like Harry, Andrew will no longer use his ‘HRH’ title. The Queen’s second son could also lose his security, estimated to cost £2 million annually. Princess Anne and Prince Edward receive protection only when they are conducting royal duties.
During a previous review of security spending in 2011, Andrew’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie – then fifth and sixth in line to the Throne – had their police protection removed on the grounds they were non-working Royals.
f Harry wins his case, any ‘remedy’ or solution would be at the discretion of the judge.
The legal battle could be expensive, with the loser likely to have to pay the costs of the winner as well as their own. The Sussexes, however, have secured a string of lucrative deals, including a reported £18 million agreement with streaming giant Spotify and a partnership with Netflix.
A Government spokesman said last night: ‘The UK Government’s protective security system is rigorous and proportionate. 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. It would also not be appropriate to comment on the detail of any legal proceedings.’