Prince Harry has lost one of two legal challenges over the British government’s refusal to let him pay for police protection during visits to the UK.
An official committee decided that the Duke of Sussex, his wife and children would no longer be automatically granted publicly-funded security on visits to the UK in 2020, after the family stepped down from their royal roles and moved to the US.
The High Court has granted permission for Prince Harry to fight the decision to strip the police protection normally afforded to members of the royal family.
But on Tuesday, it ruled that he could not seek a separate judicial review over the refusal to let him pay for the specialist police officers himself.
It is one of several cases the Duke of Sussex is pursuing in London, including allegations of unlawful information gathering against three newspaper groups and a libel claim against the publisher of the Daily Mail.
In February 2020, the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (known as Ravec) announced that the Duke, his wife and children would no longer be automatically granted police protection on visits to the UK.
The High Court was told that he did not know the committee existed, or that members of the royal household were involved, and believed that its decisions were “independent”.
Legal documents filed by his representatives said that at the time, there were “significant” tensions between Prince Harry and the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young.
After launching an initial claim for judicial review over that decision, his representatives challenged further decisions relating to the Sussexes’ security arrangements.
The High Court heard that Prince Harry made the offer to “reimburse or proactively finance the cost of the security measures” to members of the royal household in January 2020, but in December 2021 the home secretary passed the decision on whether that was possible back to Ravec.
The committee decided that the move would be wrong “in principle” in February 2022.
Lawyers for the Metropolitan Police said Ravec had been “reasonable” in finding “it is wrong for a policing body to place officers in harm’s way upon payment of a fee by a private individual”.
The Home Office told the High Court that the committee considered it was “not appropriate” for wealthy people to “buy” protective security, which might include armed officers, when it had decided that “the public interest does not warrant” someone receiving such protection on a publicly funded basis.
The judge dismissed the legal arguments from Prince Harry’s team on all five grounds and refused permission to apply for judicial review of the 2021 and 2022 decisions.
Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled that Prince Harry’s offer to pay for police protection “potentially affected anyone who might seek to pay for protective security that had not otherwise been made available”.
His judgment said that Ravec had warned: “Any decision to permit private funding would constitute a precedent of uncertain scope.
“What may begin as an occasional use of protective security might expand into more extensive use. Other individuals may argue by analogy that they should also be permitted to fund protective security. There would be ‘no inherent guidance as to the boundaries of that principle’. This would be unsatisfactory.”
There were also concerns that permitting private funding would “reduce the availability” of a limited pool of close protection officers in the UK, where police are not routinely armed and undergo intensive specialist training for the role.
Prince Harry’s legal challenge over the original decision by Ravec to deny publicly-funded protective security to him and his family in the UK from March 2020 onwards will be heard at a later date.