Prince Harry challenges decision to strip him of security in Britain after he moved to US
A lawyer for Prince Harry on Tuesday challenged the British government's decision to strip him of his security detail after he gave up his status as a working member of the royal family and moved to the United States.
The Duke of Sussex has claimed that his safety is jeopardized in part because of hostility toward him and his family on social media and a relentless press that hounds him.
Attorney Shaheed Fatima said the group that evaluated Harry's security needs — known by the acronym of its former name, the Royal and VIP Executive Committee (RAVEC) — acted irrationally and treated him unfairly by failing to follow its own policies that required applying a risk analysis about the duke's safety.
"RAVEC should have considered the 'impact' that a successful attack on the claimant would have, bearing in mind his status, background and profile within the royal family — which he was born into and which he will have for the rest of his life," Fatima said. "RAVEC should have considered, in particular, the impact on the U.K.'s reputation of a successful attack on the claimant."
The three-day hearing in London's High Court is the latest in a string of Harry's legal cases that have kept London judges busy as he takes on the U.K. government and the British tabloid media.
Harry was not in court as attorneys presented opening remarks at a hearing set to be held largely behind closed doors to discuss sensitive security matters. The judge is expected to rule at a later date.
Harry failed to persuade a different judge earlier this year that he should be able to privately pay for London's police force to guard him when he comes to town. A judge denied that offer after a government lawyer argued that officers shouldn't be used as "private bodyguards for the wealthy."
Harry, the youngest son of King Charles III, said he did not feel safe bringing his wife, former actor Meghan Markle, and their two young children back to Britain and was concerned about his own safety after being chased by paparazzi following a London charity event.
Harry's animosity toward the press dates back to the death of his mother Princess Diana in 1997, who perished in a car wreck as her driver tried to outrun aggressive photographers in Paris. Harry, whose wife is biracial, cited what he said were racist attitudes and unbearable intrusions of the British media in his decision to leave the United Kingdom.
The 39-year-old prince is challenging the decision by the group now known as the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures to provide his security on a "case by case" basis after moving in 2020 to Canada and then California, where he and his family now reside.
"He should be placed in a bespoke position and that bespoke arrangements be … specifically tailored to him," government attorney James Eadie said. "He is no longer a member of the cohort of individuals whose security position remains under regular review."
Eadie said there was also a cost factor because security funds aren't unlimited and noted that Harry has been granted protection for certain events, such as his visit in June 2021.
Harry said the committee unfairly nixed his security request without hearing from him personally and did not disclose the panel's makeup, which he later learned included royal family staff. He said Edward Young, the assistant private secretary to the late Queen Elizabeth II, should not have been on the committee because of "significant tensions" between the two men.
The Home Office has argued that any tensions between Harry and the royal household staff were irrelevant and that the committee was entitled to its decision because he had relinquished his role as a working member of the family.
The case is one of five that Harry has pending in the High Court.
The four other lawsuits involve Britain's best-known tabloids, including a case that alleges the publisher of the Daily Mail libeled him when it ran a story suggesting he had tried to hide his efforts to continue receiving government-funded security. A ruling is expected in that case Friday.
Three other lawsuits allege that journalists at the Mail, the Daily Mirror, and The Sun used unlawful means, such as deception, phone hacking, and hiring private investigators to dig up dirt about him.