Prince Harry is no stranger to intense scrutiny—the social media threats alone, often directed at Meghan Markle or their children, would be enough to insist on a security detail. And in a statement released by Harry’s spokesperson Saturday, the lack of police protection in the UK is precisely why Harry and his family, including baby Lilibet, have not made a return visit to England.
But the statement also revealed something extra scary: That Harry’s security was actually compromised during his visit in July 2021, when he returned for a statue unveiling honoring Princess Diana.
Royal biographer Omid Scobie shared a statement from Harry’s team on Twitter, which explained the reasoning behind his new decision to appeal his twice-denied request for police security while visiting the UK:
According to the BBC, Harry and Meghan lost their taxpayer-funded security when they stepped away from their royal duties in 2020, and have been paying for their own private security while in the U.S. While many assumed it was just the rumored feud between Harry and the other royals—notably his alleged infighting with Prince William and reported comments from Prince Charles—that kept him away from the UK, the new statement suggests that it was concern for his family’s safety first and foremost.
The statement explained that Harry has twice petitioned the UK government to allow him to pay for his own police security, including a request for a judicial review of the matter in September 2021, so “as not to impose on the British taxpayer.” Both times his request was denied. “As is widely known,” the statement continued, “others who have left public office and have an inherent threat risk receive police protection at no cost to them.”
The spokesperson revealed that these security concerns were proven especially valid during Prince Harry’s last trip to the UK to attend the Diana statue unveiling alongside Prince William. Though photos from the event, which went viral, showed the brothers having a seemingly convivial walk through the garden, we now know that more was going on during that trip than met the eye. “During his last visit to the UK in July 2021 — to unveil a statue in honour of his late mother — his security was compromised due to the absence of police protection, whilst leaving a charity event,” it reads.
Even some of Harry’s most critical media commentators have come to his defense on this point. Express UK quoted Charlie Rae, former royals editor at the Sun, saying, “I think Harry is entitled to this. He is not saying you and I should pay for it. He will pay for the protection while he is in this country.” Rae added, “I also doubt his own security from the States would be allowed to the inner sanctum of the Royal Family. That is a job that is done by the Met Police or Thames Valley Police. I think he has a point.”
It’s pretty strange that Harry wouldn’t be allowed to pay for his own police security while in the UK, especially considering that the very nature of his birth has made him a highly public, likely targeted figure at home. Here’s hoping that the situation gets rectified soon, especially so the Queen can finally meet her great-granddaughter Lilibet.