What Prince Harry court case reveals about ‘Megxit’ tensions at Palace

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in London - AFP / Matt Dunham
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in London - AFP / Matt Dunham

The Duke of Sussex has argued that the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young, should not have been involved in the decision to deny him police protection in the UK due to the “significant tensions” between them.

Shaheed Fatima QC, for Prince Harry, told the High Court he was not informed that members of the Royal Household were involved in the decision.

She said it was not “appropriate” for them to have had any say on the matter, complaining that the Duke had been told the Home Office committee responsible was “independent”.

The barrister suggested that the Duke’s concerns and requests regarding his security - including an offer to pay - which had been made to Sir Edward and others at the palace, were not “fully communicated” to the committee.

Prince Harry is seeking a judicial review of the decision to deny him and his family automatic security whenever they return to UK soil.

The decision was made by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (known as Ravec) in February 2020, shortly after he announced he was stepping back as a working member of the Royal family and moving abroad.

It recognises that the Duke occupies a “particular and unusual position” and that he may need protective security in certain circumstances, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

‘Clear and full explanation’

The Duke has argued that he inherited the risk at birth and that as such, he, his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and their children Archie, two and Lilibet, one, should be afforded permanent protective security in the UK, regardless of their status as non-working royals.

On Thursday, he lodged an application for a second judicial review concerning his offer to pay for protection, which he argued should have prompted the Home Office to “quash and retake” its decision.

He claims the offer was made to the palace in both January and April 2020 but was not passed on to the committee.

Government lawyers agree that no such offer was conveyed but insist it would have been rejected as a matter of principle.

Sir James Eadie QC, for the Home Office, said the Duke “should not be permitted to simply demand security” because he could afford to pay the police.

It emerged in court that at the time the decision was made, Sir Edward, as well as the Queen’s assistant private secretary and the Master of Prince Charles’s household, all sat on the committee.

Ms Fatima told the court that Prince Harry should have been given a “clear and full explanation” of the composition of Ravec and those involved in its decision-making, including members of the Royal Household.

She said it was “procedurally unfair” that the Duke had been “deprived of the opportunity” to make direct representations to the committee, including on whether it was appropriate for certain individuals to be involved.

She insisted she was not alleging bad faith or bias.

‘Very significant burden’

But the barrister told Mr Justice Swift that specifically, the Duke did not believe Sir Edward should have been involved.

“There were significant tensions between the claimant and Sir Edward Young,” she said.

The judge replied: “That is quite a bold submission to make.”

The revelation points to the volatile atmosphere behind the scenes at the palace over “Megxit”.

Ms Fatima also argued that Government policy allowed for state security to be provided to all within the “immediate line of succession”. She said it had been applied in an “overly rigid” manner as the Duke, who is sixth in line to the throne, had been excluded from that scope.

Sir James said the Duke’s claim that he was entitled to permanent security regardless of his status within the Royal family was “fundamentally inconsistent” with the committee’s position.

“The claimant’s view is plainly not the only rational view,” he said.

Sir James said that any personal tension between Harry and the Royal Household was “irrelevant” and suggested that any representations he might have made to the committee were unlikely to have had an impact.

In written submissions, he warned that by bringing the case, the Duke had imposed “a very significant burden” on the public purse.

The judge reserved his decision, which is expected to be handed down within weeks.

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