Stripping Harry and Meghan of security had nothing to do with Archie title decision

The Prince of Wales visits a pop-up NHS clinic at in north London on Tuesday - PA
The Prince of Wales visits a pop-up NHS clinic at in north London on Tuesday - PA

The decision to strip the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of round-the-clock protection had nothing to do with Buckingham Palace’s refusal to make their son Archie a prince, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The Duchess complained in her television interview with Oprah Winfrey that depriving Archie of a title had put his safety at risk. She said there had been “no explanation” for the decision.

But UK police protection for the Sussexes was only withdrawn after they had stepped down from royal duties following a meeting of the government body in charge of overseeing royal and VIP protection.

The Prince of Wales then refused to pay for security for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex out of his own pocket.

The row over security is at the heart of the rift between father and son, laid bare in the bombshell television interview with Winfrey.

The Duke said his father had stopped taking his calls after they had left Britain. He complained in the interview that during their stay in Canada, he was told “at short notice security was going to be removed”.

Separately, the Duchess complained that a decision taken by Buckingham Palace not to give their son Archie the royal title of prince had prevented him receiving armed police protection.

The decision angered the Duke and Duchess because 24-hour protection was given to Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, the daughters of the Duke of York, up until 2011, when they were still at university.

Security sources have told The Daily Telegraph the couple were stripped of their protection after stepping down from day-to-day royal duties and that Archie’s status was immaterial to that decision.

The Sussexes made a dash to California last March ahead of a Covid-19 lockdown but the Duke insisted that was motivated by fears for their safety when security was being withdrawn. Metropolitan Police officers travelled with the Sussexes to California, before being immediately recalled to the UK.

A source said: “Security was a big issue for them because there had been specific threats made against them.”

Tyler Perry, a media mogul who lent the couple his house in Los Angeles, paid for private bodyguards during the time the Sussexes stayed in his home. They are now paying for their own security, having bought a $15 million mansion in Montecito, California.

Sources close to the couple have complained the cost is “exorbitant” and they are “frustrated” by what they consider different treatment afforded to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

A friend of the Sussexes said: “There do appear to be different rules on security when it suits.”

Public-funded security is authorised by the Royal and VIP Executive Committee, which controls the security budget for the royal household and VIPs, including former prime ministers.

Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer, who now runs a private security company, Trojan Consultancy, said: “The government committee on VIP and royal security makes the decision about who does and doesn’t get protection. It is not in the Queen’s gift to give protection or take it away.

“Once Harry and Meghan step down as working royals, they become high net worth individuals/A-list celebrities but that doesn’t entitle them to taxpayer-funded security.

“Elton John has to pay for his own security and so do Harry and Meghan.”

A former senior officer in the Metropolitan Police, involved in royal security decisions, said: “It’s palpable nonsense that Harry and Meghan should have thought they were still entitled to police protection.”

The source said the decision was taken jointly by senior police and Home Office officials in conjunction with the royal household.