Prince Harry Files Legal Challenge Seeking Right to Pay for U.K. Police Protection

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Prince Harry Files Legal Challenge Seeking Right to Pay for U.K. Police Protection
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Prince Harry is requesting that the U.K. government allow him and his family police protection, even at his own financial cost, during any future trip to his native country and says that it is too risky for him, his wife Meghan Markle and their two children to visit without such security.

On Saturday, Jan. 15, his legal representative confirmed to NBC News that in September, the Duke of Sussex filed a request for an official judicial review that poses as a legal challenge to a U.K. government decision that denies him such protection, the type typically given to senior royals. Buckingham Palace has not commented.

The news comes more than a year after Harry and the Duchess of Sussex's "royal exit" took effect, following a move to Southern California, where they currently live with their son Archie Harrison, 2, and 7-month-old daughter Lilibet "Lili" Diana.

"Prince Harry inherited a security risk at birth, for life," the duke's legal representative said in a statement. "He remains sixth in line to the throne, served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan, and in recent years his family has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats. While his role within the Institution has changed, his profile as a member of the Royal Family has not. Nor has the threat to him and his family."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Family Album

The statement continued, "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex personally fund a private security team for their family, yet that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the U.K. In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home."

Prince Harry
Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Last April, Harry returned to the U.K. for the first time since officially stepping down as a senior royal and moving to California, to attend the funeral of his grandfather Prince Philip, who died at age 99. Harry traveled alone while Meghan, then pregnant with Lili, stayed with Archie in the United States. The duke also visited the U.K. again in July, also without his family, to help unveil a statue of his late mother Princess Diana with his brother Prince William, with whom he has feuded in recent years.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Harry's legal representative said in the statement, "During his last visit to the UK in July 2021 – to unveil a statue in honor of his late mother – his security was compromised due to the absence of police protection, whilst leaving a charity event."

A U.K. government spokesperson told Reuters that the government's protective security system was "rigorous and proportionate," and that it was its long-standing policy not to provide detailed information on any arrangements, as this could compromise individuals' security. They also said it would be "inappropriate" to comment in detail on any legal proceedings, the news wire reported.

In a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired last March, Meghan said that while she was pregnant with Archie, she was told that he "won't be given security" or a royal title. "It's like, OK, well, he needs to be safe, so we're not saying, 'Don't make him a prince or a princess,' whatever it's going to be," the duchess said. "But if you're saying the title is what's going to affect their protection, we haven't created this monster machine around us in terms of clickbait and tabloid fodder. You've allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe."

Harry's legal representative said that the duke "first offered to pay personally for U.K. police protection for himself and his family in January of 2020 at Sandringham," referring to his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II's country home in England.

"That offer was dismissed. He remains willing to cover the cost of security, as not to impose on the British taxpayer," the legal representative continued. "The goal for Prince Harry has been simple – to ensure the safety of himself and his family while in the UK so his children can know his home country."

They added, "After another attempt at negotiations was also rejected, he sought a judicial review in September 2021 to challenge the decision-making behind the security procedures, in the hopes that this could be re-evaluated for the obvious and necessary protection required. The UK will always be Prince Harry's home and a country he wants his wife and children to be safe in. With the lack of police protection, comes too great a personal risk."

"Prince Harry hopes that his petition – after close to two years of pleas for security in the UK – will resolve this situation," the duke's legal representative said. "It is due to a leak in a U.K. tabloid, with surreptitious timing, we feel it necessary to release a statement setting the facts straight."

(E! and NBC News are part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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