Prince Harry
Prince Harry told a hearing at London’s High Court in December that security concerns were preventing visits back to the United Kingdom. Image Credit: AP

LONDON: Prince Harry lost a court challenge against the UK government on Wednesday over a decision to change the level of his personal security when he visits the country.

The youngest son of King Charles III launched legal action against the government after being told in February 2020 that he would no longer be given the “same degree” of publicly-funded protection when in Britain.

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“The ‘bespoke’ process devised for the claimant in the decision of 28 February 2020 was, and is, legally sound,” High Court judge Peter Lane said in his 52-page judgment.

After being granted permission for a judicial review of that decision, his lawyers told a hearing in December that the decision to take this away subjected him to unlawful, unfair and unjustifiable treatment.

But the government's legal team said the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, known as RAVEC, had not decided Harry should not receive protection, but that he should not have it on the same basis.

The High Court agreed, concluding that there had been no unlawfulness in the decision.

"We are pleased that the court has found in favour of the government's position in this case, and we are carefully considering our next steps. It would be inappropriate to comment further," a spokesperson said, adding the protective security system was "rigorous and proportionate".

Harry sensationally left Britain in 2020 with his wife Meghan, eventually settling in California in the United States.

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The prince told a hearing at London’s High Court in December that security concerns were preventing visits back to the United Kingdom.

“The UK is my home. The UK is central to the heritage of my children,” he told court in a written statement read out by his lawyers.

“That cannot happen if it’s not possible to keep them safe.

“I cannot put my wife in danger like that and, given my experiences in life, I am reluctant to unnecessarily put myself in harm’s way too,” he added.

Harry’s mother Princess Diana was killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997 as she tried to escape paparazzi photographers.

Lawyers for the government rejected claims that Harry was “singled out” and treated “less favourably” or that a proper risk analysis was not carried out.

Non-working royal

James Eadie, for the interior ministry, told the court that it was decided Harry would not be provided the same level of protection as before because he had left life as a working royal and mostly lived abroad.

In May 2023, Harry lost a bid for a legal review of another government decision refusing him permission to pay for specialist UK police protection himself.

The interior ministry argued then that it was “not appropriate” for wealthy people to “buy” protective security when it had decided that it was not in the public interest for such taxpayer-funded protection.

London’s Metropolitan Police also opposed Harry’s offer on the grounds that it would be wrong to “place officers in harm’s way upon payment of a fee by a private individual”.

It is one of many legal cases launched by Harry.

Earlier this month, he settled a long-running lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), whose journalists he accused of being linked to deceptive and unlawful methods, but vowed to continue his legal battles with several other UK media outlets.

Harry is one of seven high-profile people, including Elton John, bringing legal action against the publisher of the Daily Mail over allegations of unlawful information gathering.

He and actor Hugh Grant are also suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), part of Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire and publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World tabloids, over similar claims.

However, Harry last month dropped his libel case against UK newspaper the Mail on Sunday over an article on his legal battles with the UK government.