Following a hearing last week, a High Court judge in London ruled on Tuesday, May 23, that he would not give the 38-year-old prince the option to hire his own police protection when he is overseas. Harry has stated that he doesn’t feel safe in the U.K. with his children, Archie, 4, and Lilibet, 23 months, whom he shares with Meghan Markle, due to the attention from photographers.
“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,” his team said in a statement in January 2022 after Harry filed an application for judicial review after a Home Office decision ruled he cannot personally fund police protection. “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.”
This month, the British government’s team argued in court that police officers are available for the public’s best interest and are not “private bodyguards for the wealthy.”
Harry and Meghan, 41, who wed in 2018, lost their security team when they stopped working for the British royal family in 2020 — a move the Duke and Duchess of Sussex didn’t see coming. In his memoir, Spare, he recalled that he “never” thought The Firm would no longer provide their royal security detail.
“Not in this climate of hate. Not after what happened to my mother [Princess Diana]. Also, not in the wake of my Uncle Andrew. He was embroiled in a shameful scandal, accused of the sexual assault of a young woman and no one had so much suggested that he lose his security. Whatever grievances people had against us, sex crimes weren’t on the list,” he wrote. (Andrew’s sexual assault lawsuit was settled out of court in 2022.)
Following Harry and Meghan’s move to California, he has returned to England solo on several occasions. Most recently, he was in town for a quick trip to attend his dad King Charles III’s coronation on May 6 as Meghan stayed home with their kids in honor of Archie’s fourth birthday. While the kids’ only known visit with his family was for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022, Meghan was also by Harry’s side for the late monarch’s funeral that September.
Harry’s loss in court comes as the couple are still reeling from an incident in New York City, which their rep described as a “near catastrophic car chase” with “a ring of highly aggressive” photographers following the 2023 Women of Vision Awards on May 16.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” the duo’s spokesperson said. “While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety. Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all involved.”
The NYPD subsequently spoke out about the situation, noting in a statement: “The NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging. There were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests in regard.”
While Harry and Meghan have released an additional statement “demand[ing]” that photo agency Backgrid “immediately provide us with copies of all photos, videos, and/or films taken” from the evening as questions about the incident began to make headlines, the company fired back.
“In America, as I’m sure you know, property belongs to the owner of it: Third parties cannot just demand it be given to them, as perhaps Kings can do,” Backgrid’s statement read. “Perhaps you should sit down with your client and advise them that his English rules of royal prerogative to demand that the citizenry hand over their property to the Crown were rejected by this country long ago. We stand by our founding fathers.”