The Duke of Sussex's lawyers argued in court that the U.K. government was wrong to strip him of security
Prince Harry is challenging the U.K. government's decision to strip him of police protection during visits to his home country.
At the start of a three-day hearing in London on Tuesday, which Harry did not attend, the Duke of Sussex's lawyers argued against a February 2020 decision by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (RAVEC) to remove Harry's automatic right to U.K. police security. The call was made following his decision to step back from duties as a working member of the royal family in 2020 alongside his wife, Meghan Markle. Although Prince Harry offered to cover the costs of security, the bid was rejected.
In a written statement obtained by PEOPLE, Prince Harry's attorneys said RAVEC "should have considered the 'impact' that a successful attack on the claimant would have, bearing in mind his status, background and profile within the royal family — which he was born into and which he will have for the rest of his life. RAVEC should have considered, in particular, the impact on the U.K.’s reputation of a successful attack on the claimant."
The Home Office said RAVEC had considered the "likely significant public upset" that would stem from something happening to Prince Harry and was aware of the "tragic death" of his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in 1997 after her vehicle was pursued by paparazzi.
However, the Home Office said that security for Prince Harry and his family should be decided on a case-by-case basis as his position had "materially changed" because "he would no longer be a working member of the Royal Family and would be living abroad for the majority of the time." Prince Harry and Meghan moved to her home state of California in 2020.
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"Of course, it should go without saying that he wants to come back: to see family and friends and to continue to support the charities that are so close to his heart," his lawyer Shaheed Fatima said in 2022 at the Royal Courts of Justice. "Most of all, this is, and always will be, his home."
Prince Harry's concerns are believed to date back to his visit to the U.K. in July 2021, when he joined his brother Prince William for the unveiling of a statue of their mother in the gardens of Kensington Palace. After a later charity event, Prince Harry's car was reportedly chased by photographers through the streets of London.
Concerns have also been voiced in the U.S. In May 2023, Prince Harry and Meghan's spokesperson said in a statement to PEOPLE that they were involved in a "near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi" in New York City following an event.
"While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone's safety," the couple's spokesperson added.
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