Harry loses bid to challenge decision not to allow him to pay for UK police protection

May 23, 2023 - 7:16 PM
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Prince Harry attends the coronation ceremony of Britain's King Charles III at Westminster Abbey in London Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool via Reuters/File Photo)

Prince Harry on Tuesday lost a bid to legally challenge the British government’s decision not to allow him to pay for police protection while he is in the United Kingdom.

Harry, King Charles’ younger son, was stripped of the police security usually afforded to royal figures in the United Kingdom after he and his American wife Meghan stepped down from their official roles in 2020 to move to the United States.

The High Court in London, which last year already agreed he should be allowed to challenge the original decision to end his protection, ruled on Tuesday he could not also seek a further judicial review over the refusal of his offer to pay privately for the highly-trained officers.

The decision to remove publicly-funded security was taken by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, known by the acronym RAVEC, which approves security for the royals and VIPs, such as the prime minister.

Last week, lawyers for Harry had argued RAVEC did not have the power to reject his funding offer, and even if it did have such authority, it was wrong not to consider an exception or hear representations on his behalf.

However, lawyers for the police and the government said it would be wrong to allow the fifth-in-line to the throne to pay for the protection as it would mean wealthy individuals being able to “buy” specially trained officers as private bodyguards.

Public interest

They argued that it would be wrong for an individual to pay for such officers, who are required to put themselves in harm’s way, if the committee had already considered it was not in the public’s or the state’s interest.

It was very different to paying for policing for a soccer match, a marathon, or even a celebrity’s wedding, they said.

In his written ruling, Judge Martin Chamberlain rejected Harry’s case, concluding RAVEC had not been wrong to decide that allowing payment for protective security was against the public interest.

His ruling comes less than a week after Harry’s spokesperson said the prince, his wife Meghan and her mother were involved in a “near catastrophic” car chase with press photographers after an awards ceremony in New York.

RELATED: Prince Harry, Meghan say they were pursued by paparazzi in New York

The prince has spoken out about his fears for the safety of his family and regularly hit out at press intrusion which he blames for the death of his mother Princess Diana, who was killed when her limousine crashed as it sped away from chasing paparazzi in Paris in 1997.

Meanwhile last year, Britain’s former counter-terrorism police chief said there had been credible threats made against the couple by far-right extremists.

The case is one of a number that Harry is currently pursuing at the High Court. His lawyers are also involved in a trial where he and others are suing Mirror Group Newspapers over allegations of phone-hacking and other unlawful activities.

Harry is also suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday newspaper for libel over an article that alleged he only offered to pay for police protection after the start of his legal case against the British government.

—Editing by Sarah Young, Sachin Ravikumar, Alexandra Hudson

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