Royal staff and the British government need to make sure Harry and his family get the security they need - before it's too late

·Royal Executive Editor
·5-min read
TOPSHOT - Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive for a public walkabout at the Rotorua Government Gardens in Rotorua on October 31, 2018. - The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on a three-week tour of Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, and Fiji. (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan, pictured with their security detail in New Zealand in 2018, need protection before it's too late writes Yahoo UK's Royal Executive Editor Omid Scobie. (Getty Images)

It took mere seconds for Jaswant Singh Chail to be arrested after breaking onto the grounds of Windsor Castle last Christmas Day. Masked and armed with a loaded crossbow, the 19-year-old had plans to break in and murder the Queen as she joined Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall for family celebrations. But despite his chilling determination, the man barely managed a few steps before being tackled to the ground.

Last week, Chail—who has since been sectioned under the Mental Health Act—was charged with treason, threats to kill and possession of a dangerous weapon and now faces the likelihood of a substantial prison sentence. Though it is the first time the 1842 Treason Act has been used in over four decades (the last time being when a teenager was jailed for firing blank shots at the Queen during Trooping the Colour in 1981), it is one of many close calls for the royals over the years—all of them stopped in their tracks thanks to the elite training and world class intelligence that helps royal protection officers always remain one step ahead.

The Sun newspaper front cover, 27 December 2018. (The Sun)
The Sun newspaper front cover, 27 December 2018. (The Sun)

For members of the monarchy, including those who have chosen to step away like Prince Harry, this high level of security is essential. Alongside the Prime Minister, Royal Family members are some of the most targeted individuals in the country.

Given this fact, it’s hard to then understand why Prince Harry is still locked in a lengthy High Court battle with the British Home Office over the protection privileges he lost in early 2020. The duke says he has been forced to keep visits to his home turf few and far between as his private security in the U.S. don’t have adequate jurisdiction in Britain (i.e. access to necessary intelligence and the ability to arm themselves).

RAVEC - which includes senior aides of the royal household and former government officials - don’t appear to have a publicly visible and defined set of guidelines for this issue. If they did then surely the sensitivities around Prince Andrew and his security arrangements would have come under immense scrutiny.

Though stripped of all royal patronages and military affiliations after the shame of his close friendship with a paedophile billionaire and paying out millions to rape accuser Virginia Giuffre, Andrew’s Scotland Yard protection remains an annual and unchallenged cost of around $500,000 to the British taxpayer.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 11:  Princess Diana Arriving At The Royal Tournament With Prince William, Prince Harry , Their Friend And Police Bodyguard  (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Harry, photographed in 1996 with Diana, William, their friend and a police bodyguard, had been afforded protection throughout his life prior to stepping down as a senior royal. (Getty Images)

Harry’s fears aren’t rooted in paranoia. While covering Harry and Meghan’s time as working royals, I was made aware of the astonishingly high number of threats sent to the couple — the majority received from U.K. locations and many of them rooted in racism towards the duchess.

It’s no different today. Sources tell me that during the Sussex family’s visit for the Platinum Jubilee (which they were given state security for as it was an official royal event), a number of credible threats were intercepted by authorities. I witness a lot myself, too. Thanks to a never-ending stream of false tabloid tales calling me the couple’s “close friend” or “spokesman”, I regularly receive an extension of their online threats. The messages range from extreme racism to disturbingly violent scenes involving the likes of dismemberment, car accidents and rape. They always get forwarded to the police.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral on June 03, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952.  on June 03, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage,)
While visiting the UK for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in June, Harry and Meghan were provided with state security as it was an official royal event. (Getty Images)

In his first case against the Home Office, a judge recently granted Harry the right to challenge the lack of transparency around RAVEC’s decision making and policies. Whilst a court also heard Harry was unhappy that the Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young, who the duke has had “significant tensions” with, was on the deciding committee, Harry was not granted the right to judicial review based on this ground.

Just a month before RAVEC’s conclusion, Young - who has served Her Majesty for over 18 years - attempted to stop the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from meeting with the Queen when they made their decision to step back. Previously, I wrote that he may have been one of the reasons why Harry spoke earlier this year about making sure the “right people” are around his grandmother.

Many people speculated that he was one of the reasons why Harry spoke earlier this year about making sure the “right people” are around his grandmother.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 18:  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at the United Nations Headquarters on July 18, 2022 in New York City. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex is the keynote speaker during the United Nations General assembly to mark the observance of Nelson Mandela International Day where the 2020 U.N. Nelson Mandela Prize will be awarded to Mrs. Marianna Vardinogiannis of Greece and Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté of Guinea.  (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan photographed with their US security detail as they arrived at the United Nations Headquarters on July 18, 2022 in NYC. (Getty Images)

On August 4, Prince Harry filed a second lawsuit, this time focused on the refusal to let him privately pay for police protection. Despite what you may have read in certain newspapers, he has never actually asked for the public or government to cover security costs.

RAVEC’s lawyers argue that they were entitled to reach its decision, which currently sees Harry’s security arrangements considered on a case by case basis. However, it seems cruel in the extreme to allow Prince Andrew round-the-clock police protection but not the future King’s son. It comes across as the Establishment punishing Harry, yet again, for breaking away from the Firm and sharing his experiences publicly.

But the safety of others should never be up for debate. While each side has its differences (and it’s unlikely they will ever see eye to eye), there is only one acceptable solution to this fight: reinstate Harry’s access to security at his own expense - before it’s too late.