Lawyers for Prince Harry on Tuesday began a legal challenge over his security arrangements in the UK, after he quit frontline royal duties and moved to North America.
The case about his loss of UK taxpayer-funded protection is the latest in a string of court proceedings initiated by Harry, whose father is King Charles III.
Harry is taking legal action against the UK interior ministry over a February 2020 decision by a committee that deals with the security of members of the royal family.
The Duke of Sussex, as he is formally known, had been told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security that he previously enjoyed.
Shaheed Fatima, representing Harry, told the High Court in London the case was about the prince’s right to “safety and security”.
She added in written submissions that the impact of any harm to Harry on the UK’s reputation should have been considered when the committee took the decision to downgrade his protective security when visiting the UK from his new home in California.
She said this was especially important given his “status, background and profile within the royal family — which he was born into”.
In response, lawyer James Eadie, for the Home Office, said Harry was treated in a lawful “bespoke manner” when it came to his security on visits home.
He said it was “simply incorrect” to suggest that there was no evidence that the issue of impact was considered, adding that the death of Harry’s mother Princess Diana was raised as part of the decision.
– Private hearing –
Diana, who was stripped of the title “Her Royal Highness” after she and Charles were divorced, died in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997 while trying to shake off paparazzi photographers.
The barrister said it was decided that Harry would not be provided with protective security “on the same basis as before” due to him no longer being a working member of the royal family and living abroad most of the time.
In May, Harry lost his bid for a legal review of a government decision refusing him permission to pay for specialist UK police protection himself.
Lawyers for the interior ministry argued that it was “not appropriate” for wealthy people to “buy” protective security when it had decided that it was not in the public interest for such protection to be paid for by the taxpayer.
London’s Metropolitan Police also opposed Harry’s offer on the grounds that it would be wrong to “place officers in harm’s way upon payment of a fee by a private individual”.
The latest case will largely be held in private, without the press or public present, due to confidential evidence over security measures.
The hearing is due to conclude on Thursday, with a ruling expected at a later date.