Prince Harry’s legal bid to force the Metropolitan Police to provide security when he visits the UK could open the floodgates to a wave if similar claims from the rich and famous if it’s successful, one legal expert has predicted.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex lost their police bodyguards in February 2020, after a decision was made by the Home Office's Royal and VIP Executive Committee to strip the pair of the taxpayer-funded protection provided to other senior royals.
But Harry is applying for a judicial review to let him pay privately for an armed Metropolitan Police security detail during visits to Britain. His currentprivate security guards are not permitted to carry firearms in the UK.
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Official police protection officers can also use their blue lights and sirens to take them through red lights and other traffic obstacles– frustrating the kind of pursuing paparazzi pack that contributed to the death of Harry’ mother, Princess Diana.
Amber Melville-Brown, of international law firm Withers, says that if the judicial review is successful it could set a significant legal precedent.
She told Newsweek: "If Harry were successful in a judicial review which sought to fight his own private, security corner, it might leave the door ajar for others—the devil will be in the detail of the claim and the court's ultimate ruling."
Explaining that if Harry’s legal team successfully argue that he has the right to pay for police protection, it could open the door to other high-profile individual demanding the same right.
She said “some will fear a win for Harry risks turning the West End, Westminster and the West Country into the Wild West”.
Police protection officer Ken Wharfe, who guarded Princess Diana as well as Harry and his brother William when they were children, told the Daily Mail: "Police protection should not be for sale. Prince Harry has an outrageous cheek, demanding a full royal security detail to be reinstated when he visits the UK”
Saying that allowing the royal protection squad being available for hire would deeply upset the wider Royal Family, he added: "If he is granted the services of the Metropolitan's royal protection squad, for which he has magnanimously offered to pay, every visiting Hollywood star and wealthy celebrity may as well expect the same privileges.”
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Harry told his family and royal staff during a meeting at Sandringham in early 2020 that if he could keep the police team he would be willing to fund it himself, but was refused.
A statement from Harry’s legal team said: "Prince Harry inherited a security risk at birth, for life. He remains sixth in line to the throne, served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan, and in recent years his family has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats.
"While his role within the Institution has changed, his profile as a member of the Royal Family has not. Nor has the threat to him and his family”.
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