Prince Harry has said the UK ‘is my home’ and claimed he was ‘forced’ to step back from royal duties and leave for the US.
The Duke of Sussex his children cannot ‘feel at home’ in Britain if it is ‘not possible to keep them safe’, the High Court heard.
In a written witness statement prepared for his legal challenge against the Home Office over a change to his security arrangements when visiting the UK, meaning his taxpayer-funded armed protection could be removed, Harry said he and his wife Meghan had no option but to leave the country in 2020.
At a hearing in London today, the duke’s barrister, Shaheed Fatima KC, said Harry did not accept that it was a ‘choice’ for him to have stopped being a ‘full-time working member of the royal family‘.
The lawyer read out an excerpt from the duke’s statement in which he said: ‘It was with great sadness for both of us that my wife and I felt forced to step back from this role and leave the country in 2020.
The Duke of Sussex said his children cannot ‘feel at home’ in Britain if it is ‘not possible to keep them safe’, the High Court heard. Harry is seen outside court in London on June 7
Harry says he and Meghan were ‘forced’ to leave the UK and stop being full-time working royals
‘The UK is my home. The UK is central to the heritage of my children and a place I want them to feel at home as much as where they live at the moment in the US. That cannot happen if it’s not possible to keep them safe when they are on UK soil.
‘I cannot put my wife in danger like that and, given my experiences in life, I am reluctant to unnecessarily put myself in harm’s way too.’
Harry now faces a wait for a judge’s ruling on his legal action against the Home Office after a two-and-half-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice concluded on Thursday.
The duke’s lawyers are challenging the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) to change the degree of his publicly funded security, arguing it was ‘unlawful and unfair’.
The majority of the proceedings were held in private, without the public or press present, due to confidential evidence over security measures being involved in the case.
Ms Fatima has previously told the court that Harry was ‘singled out’ and treated ‘less favourably’ in a decision to change the level of his personal security.
She said Ravec failed to carry out a risk analysis and fully consider the impact of a ‘successful attack’ on him.
The barrister said a ‘crucial’ part of Ravec’s approach was an analysis carried out by the Risk Management Board (RMB), but it had chosen not to do this in Harry’s case.
She said it was the first time the body had decided to ‘deviate’ from policy, with it adopting a ‘far inferior’ procedure in relation to ‘critical safeguards’.
‘No good reason has been provided for singling the claimant (the duke) out in this way,’ she said, later adding that if Ravec had ‘properly’ considered the duke’s case, the outcome would likely have been ‘different’.
But the Government says Harry’s claim should be dismissed, arguing that Ravec – which falls under the Home Office’s remit – was entitled to conclude the duke’s protection should be ‘bespoke’ and considered on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.
Prince Harry and Meghan with security, their faces blurred, in New Zealand in 2018
Sir James Eadie KC, for the Home Office, said in written arguments that the decision ‘not to undertake an RMB analysis but to conduct a more bespoke, targeted assessment does not amount to treating (Harry) ‘less favourably”.’
He said Ravec had decided ‘the bespoke process to be more effective, to allow more specific and informed consideration by Ravec of the threat and risk picture for each visit’.
Sir James said it was ‘simply incorrect’ to suggest that there was no evidence that the issue of impact was considered, adding that the death of Diana, Princess of Wales – Harry’s mother – was raised as part of the decision.
He added: ‘Ravec gave greater weight to the impact on state functions being lessened as a result of the change, over likely significant public upset were a successful attack on (Harry) to take place.’
Mr Justice Lane will give his judgment over the case at a later date.
The security case is one of five High Court claims the duke is involved in, including extensive litigation against newspaper publishers.
Harry, who was not present at the hearing, lives in North America with wife Meghan and their children Archie and Lilibet after the couple announced they were stepping back as senior royals in January 2020.
Ms Fatima had earlier opened today’s hearing by saying: ‘This case is about the right to safety and security of a person, there could not be a right of greater importance to any of us.’
She said in written submissions that the risk the duke faces ‘arises from his birth and ongoing status, as the son of HM the King’.
She continued: ‘The claimant’s consistent position has been – and remains – that he should be given state security in light of the threats/risks he faces.’
The barrister later said the duke is ‘plainly’ part of the group that should be considered by Ravec.
Harry and Meghan with baby Archie during a visit to South Africa
Ms Fatima said: ‘The effect of the February 20 decision is that Ravec is only required to consider protective security for the Duke of Sussex when he visits the UK.
‘That does not mean he is no longer one of the principals that Ravec is required to consider; he plainly is.’
But rejecting her arguments, Sir James Eadie KC, for the Home Office said: ‘There is no recognised common law right to publicly funded protection.’
He said Harry was offered ‘bespoke’ treatment, as his security needs were assessed whenever he alerted the Home Office that he was planning to visit Britain.
He said in written submissions: ‘In considering whether to provide protective security to any such individual… Ravec considers the risk of a successful attack on that individual.
‘In summary, Ravec considers the threat that an individual faces, which is assessed by reference to the capability and intent of hostile actors, the vulnerability of that individual to such an attack, and the impact that such an attack would have on the interests of the state.’
He continued: ‘As a result of the fact that he would no longer be a working member of the Royal Family, and would be living abroad for the majority of the time, his position had materially changed.
‘In those circumstances, protective security would not be provided on the same basis as before. However, he would, in particular and specific circumstances, be provided protective security when in Great Britain.’
Sir James continued: ‘Ravec has, accordingly, treated the claimant in a bespoke manner.
Harry was offered ‘bespoke’ treatment with his security decided on a case-by-case basis
‘He is no longer a member of the cohort of individuals whose security position remains under regular review by Ravec. But he is brought back within the cohort in the appropriate circumstances.’
The barrister said Ravec’s job was to balance the risk of a public figure being attacked with the ‘finite’ nature of police funding.
And he said it was ‘plainly rational’ and lawful for Ravec to consider that the Duke of Sussex was stepping back as a working royal was a factor.
‘The fact that the Duke of Sussex cannot cease to be a member of the Royal Family is trite, but does not further inform the balance which Ravec must strike. Its decisions were made in that knowledge.’
The barrister added: ‘The decision – and its practical implementation for the claimant’s subsequent visits – recognised that he nonetheless occupies a particular and unusual position, such that it may be appropriate to afford him protective security in certain circumstances.’
The High Court heard that the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was raised as part of the decision over the Duke of Sussex’s security.
Sir James said: ‘Ravec was aware of the wider “impact” following the tragic death of the claimant’s mother, and this was also a matter referenced by the royal household.’
The barrister added there would be ‘likely significant public upset were a successful attack on the claimant to take place’.
But he continued: ‘The decision, and its subsequent application, constituted a lawful balancing of relevant factors, in the conduct of a consideration of risk, impact and threat.’
The case continues.