Prince Harry challenges ‘unfair treatment’ over UK security in London court

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) -Prince Harry has been subjected to unlawful, unfair and unjustifiable treatment by the British government over the decision to take away his police protection when he is in Britain, his lawyer told London’s High Court on Tuesday.

Harry, along with other senior royals, had received full publicly-funded security protection provided by the state before he decided to step back from his royal duties and move to California with his American wife Meghan in 2020.

But the Home Office — the ministry responsible for policing, immigration and security — decided in February that year that Harry would cease to automatically receive personal police security while in Britain, even if he were to cover the cost himself.

Harry, who is the younger son of King Charles and who has the title the Duke of Sussex, was given permission last year to challenge that decision. Harry was not in court on Tuesday but his lawyer, Shaheed Fatima, said the decision was “unlawful and unfair”.

“This case is about the right to security and safety of a person,” she said. “There cannot be a right of greater importance to any of us.”

She said the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, known as RAVEC, had deviated from its own written policy for the first time, and had not provided a reason why it had singled Harry out in this way. It had also failed to tell him why it had made its decision.


Harry’s “consistent position has been – and remains – that he should be given state security in light of the threats/risks he faces,” she said in her written submission, adding he had “unjustifiably, been treated less favourably” than others.

The government’s lawyer, James Eadie, said the change in protection resulted from Harry’s change of status to a non-working royal. RAVEC had not decided Harry should not receive protection, but that he should not have it on the same basis.

Harry would be treated in a “bespoke” manner, and “occasionally” be included within the cohort of individuals receiving publicly-funded protection, Eadie said.

The prince has often spoken out about his fears for the safety of his family, and has regularly hit out at press intrusion — which he blames for the death of his mother Princess Diana, who was killed when her chauffeur-driven car crashed as it sped away from chasing paparazzi in Paris in 1997.

Last year, Britain’s former counter-terrorism police chief said there had been credible threats made against Harry and Meghan by far-right extremists.

Eadie said in his written submissions said the committee was aware of “the wider ‘impact’ following the tragic death of (Harry’s) mother”.

The judge, Peter Lane, has ruled that only the opening statements in the case could be held in public, with the vast bulk of the hearings over the coming two and a half days held in private to prevent security measures being compromised.

In her heavily redacted written submission, Fatima said there had been “a recent heightened threat” in June this year when Harry gave evidence at the High Court in a privacy case against Mirror Group Newspapers.

In May, the High Court ruled against Harry after he challenged the government’s refusal to allow to him pay for his own police protection instead.

Lawyers for the police and the government successfully argued it would be wrong to allow the fifth-in-line to the throne to pay, as it would mean wealthy individuals were able to “buy” specially trained serving officers to act as private bodyguards.

(Reporting by Michael HoldenEditing by Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry)