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 arrested in a highly contested 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 the UK.
Lawyers for the Home Office argued that it was inappropriate for police officers to be effectively hired out as private security guards.
In the United States, Harry and Meghan are protected by bodyguards who are licensed to carry weapons. However, traveling in the UK presents a particular challenge as their private security guards are not allowed to carry weapons.
Legal representatives for Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, had argued that he and his family needed the higher level of protection when visiting Britain, and that the prince was willing to pay for it out of his own pocket.
Harry lost his automatic police protection when he and Meghan stepped back from his duties as working members of the royal family in 2020. He is also questioning the process by which the Home Office refused to give him taxpayer support – a claim which has yet to be decided.
The decision to pay for protection, which cannot be appealed, is a setback for Harry at a time when his security has come under increased scrutiny.
Last week, he and Meghan, along with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, were swarmed by photographers after they left an awards ceremony in Midtown Manhattan. What happened after that is the subject of sharply conflicting accounts.
A spokeswoman 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 transported the three said there had been no car chase and no reason for his passengers to be afraid, although he admitted they appeared to have become anxious.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department said the photographers had posed a challenge but added that the three had 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 – was entitled to refuse Harry’s request to pay for security, given that police can be paid to patrol private events such as football matches.
“In my judgment, the short answer on this point is that Ravec did not say that it would be contrary to the public interest to allow wealthy individuals to pay for police services,” Judge Martin Chamberlain wrote in his 10-page ruling. governing. “Its reasoning was narrowly limited to the protective services that fall within its purview.”
In addition to the security cases, Harry is embroiled in three lawsuits against publishers of London tabloids – The Mirror, The Daily Mail and The Sun – over allegations of mobile phone hacking and other breaches of his privacy.
The messy meeting with photographers in New York thrust Harry and Meghan back into the headlines in Britain, just weeks after the prince made a fleeting, subdued appearance at the coronation of his father, King Charles III.
Some security experts have argued that Harry faces an increased threat because of his claim, in his memoir, “Reserve,” that he killed 25 Taliban fighters during two combat tours as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.
As a working royal, 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 for the bodyguards to be left in place, even though he lost all other royal privileges.
“I offered to cover the cost of security out of my own pocket,” he wrote. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but I was going to find a way.”