Prince Harry and his wife, Duchess Meghan of Sussex, were subjected to a deluge of online threats when they lived in the United Kingdom, according to a senior police official who described the abuse as "disgusting and very real."
Neil Basu, the outgoing assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, told Channel 4 News in an interview posted on Twitter Tuesday that the threats were credible and the quantity and tenor of the content would have left the former Meghan Markle feeling “under threat all of the time."
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who left the U.K. and moved to California in 2020 in part, they said, for security reasons, have been decrying racist and violent threats since at least 2016, even as their legion of critics have accused them of exaggerating their threat vulnerability.
Now Basu, formerly head of counter terrorism and in charge of royal protection during the years before the Sussexes left, is backing up what they've been saying.
His remarks provide new context for Harry’s legal efforts to get police protection for his family when they are in the U.K., about which he is suing the British government.
Speaking to Channel 4's Cathy Newman, Basu, who is biracial, was asked to characterize the threats the Sussexes received. "Disgusting and very real," he responded.
There were many of them and mostly from the far right, he confirmed.
“Absolutely, and if you’d seen the stuff that was written and you were receiving it … the kind of rhetoric that’s online, if you don’t know what I know, you would feel under threat all of the time,” he said.
He was convinced the danger to Meghan's life was genuine, he said. “We had teams investigating it. People have been prosecuted for those threats.”
Harry's legal action against the Home Office over his security arrangements while visiting the U.K., is pending. In July, a high court judge said part of his case could proceed to a judicial review.
Harry, 38, is challenging the February 2020 decision by the Home Office's committee on royal protection that he and his family would no longer be given the same degree of personal protection when visiting, even though he offered to pay for it himself.
A spokesperson for the Sussexes in California declined to comment to USA TODAY.
'It's vey nice to be back': Duchess Meghan, Prince Harry return to UK to promote causes
Meghan, 41, is due to be the featured guest at a Women's Fund of Central Indiana event Tuesday night in downtown Indianapolis. "The Power of Women: An Evening with Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex," is a private speaking event that will include an interview of Meghan by a local woman rabbi.
Next week, Harry and Meghan are scheduled to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award at a gala in New York, for their "moral courage" in standing up to "structural racism" in the British royal family by calling it out, according to Kerry Kennedy, one of RFK's daughters and president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Meghan, Prince Harry faced 'disgusting, very real' threats in UK