The sixth in line to the throne claims that it is not safe for him to return unless he has UK officers for bodyguards. The Duke of Sussex – who has insisted Britain “always will be his home” – is suing the Home Office over its refusal to let him pick up the bill for providing police security. But its lawyers said he had disrespected the Home Secretary and an expert committee that decides who should be given such protection.
Harry, 37, has private bodyguards to protect him, his wife Meghan and their children Archie and Lilibet at their £11.7million home in Montecito, California, but wants police officers with relevant legal powers and access to official intelligence when in the UK.
His lawyers told the High Court in London he had offered to pay for Government-provided security on his visits but that was dismissed as irrelevant by a lawyer for the Home Office.
Introducing the case at a preliminary hearing before Mr Justice Swift, Harry’s lawyer Shaheed Fatima QC said: “The claimant does not feel safe when he is in the UK given the security arrangements applied to him in June 2021 and [which] will continue to be applied to him.
“He does want to come back to see family and friends and to continue to support the charities that are so close to his heart. Most of all, this is and always will be his home.”
Harry returned for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral last April – it is understood he was given police security as the occasion was deemed a potential target for terrorists.
But when he visited again – for the July 1 unveiling of a statue of his late mother Princess Diana at Kensington Palace – he was denied taxpayer-funded protection.
The day before he met seriously-ill children at a WellChild garden party in Kew Gardens, south-west London and claimed afterwards that his car had been chased by photographers.
The Sussexes have been targeted by far-Right groups because of their mixed-race marriage – while Harry remains a potential terrorism target as a former soldier who saw action in the Afghanistan conflict.
But police say the biggest threat to members of the Royal Family comes from fixated individuals – twisted “fans” – on either side of the Atlantic.
It is not clear why the Duke thinks he is at more risk in Britain than in the US. The government there has likewise refused to provide the family with taxpayer-funded protection.
Across the US, the murder rate in 2020 was 7.8 per 100,000 people; in California it was 5.5, up from 4.2 the year before. In England and Wales the murder rate for 2020-21 was 1.01 per 100,000 people.
Ms Fatima said Harry had tried to avoid going to court by asking the Home Office to use “alternative dispute resolution”, a type of mediation, before issuing the legal claim.
He is challenging the February 2020 decision on his security by the Royal and VIP Executive Committee (Ravec), which oversees policy on protecting public figures. Aides previously said he wants to pay for police protection rather than have taxpayers foot the bill.
But Robert Palmer QC, for the Home Office, told the court the Duke’s offer was “irrelevant”.
In written submissions, he said: “Personal protective security by the police is not available on a privately financed basis and Ravec does not make decisions on the provision of such security on the basis that any financial contribution could be sought or obtained to pay for it.”
He said Ravec had given Harry “exceptional status” where each visit is assessed case-by-case “with the precise arrangements being dependent on the reason for his presence”.
The Home Office’s written arguments also said Harry’s offer of funding was “notably not advanced to Ravec” when he last visited or before he launched the legal action.
Mr Palmer later said in the written submissions Harry had “failed to afford the necessary measure of respect” to the Home Secretary and Ravec as “the expert, and democratically accountable, decision-maker”.
He added the Home Office will “seek the costs incurred as a result of this claim in full”.
Last month, a spokesman for the Sussexes said: “The Duke first offered to pay personally for UK police protection for himself and his family in January of 2020 at Sandringham. That offer was dismissed.” The purpose of the hearing was to decide which evidence should be heard in private.
The couple lost taxpayer-funded police protection after deciding to quit as senior working royals in 2020.
They later disclosed they had “privately funded security” for their move to the US, after then president Donald Trump said his country would not pay.
The hearing continues, with a written judgment due later.