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Prince Harry says UK ‘is my home’ and he was ‘forced’ to ‘step back’ from royal duties

Prince Harry is challenging the government’s decision to scale back his police protection  (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Prince Harry is challenging the government’s decision to scale back his police protection (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Prince Harry has claimed he was “forced” to step back from royal duties and leave for the US.

The Duke of Sussex insisted the UK was his home and spoke about it being a matter of “great sadness” that he and his wife, Meghan Markle, were forced to step back from their role and leave the country in 2020.

At a High Court hearing in London on Thursday, the duke’s barrister, Shaheed Fatima KC, said Harry did not accept that it was a “choice” for him to have stopped being a “full-time working member of the royal family”.

Harry, 39, is challenging the government’s decision to scale back his police protection during visits to the UK, after the estranged royal resigned as a senior member and relocated to the US.

In the latest stage of the hearing today, Shaheed Fatima KC, said the duke did not accept that it was a choice for him to have quit working as a full-time member of the royal family.

She read out an excerpt from the duke’s statement in which he said: ‘It was with great sadness for both of us that my wife and I felt forced to step back from this role and leave the country in 2020.

“The UK is my home. The UK is central to the heritage of my children and a place I want them to feel at home as much as where they live at the moment in the US. That cannot happen if it’s not possible to keep them safe when they are on UK soil.

“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.”

While most court cases are open to members of the British public and press, Harry’s latest legal battle was bound by a privacy order, a copy of which was obtained by The Independent.

The document said the “public disclosure of information regarding such matters as the level of threat assessments and those for whom such assessments have been carried out”.

It added if “specific protective security tactics” were heard in public it would – in the words of case judge Mr Justice Lane – “self-evidently be of interest to anyone wishing to harm a person within the scope of the security arrangements and would assist them to piece together previous practice with a view to anticipating present or future security provision”.

Harry’s latest hearing over his security arrangements in the UK started on Tuesday at London’s High Court.

Lawyers for the Duke of Sussex were seeking to prove he was “treated unfairly” when the Royalty and VIP Executive Committee ruled he no longer qualifies for the “same degree” of protection given to members of the British royal family.

Mr Justice Lane added in his privacy order, issued on Monday and titled Duke of Sussex v Secretary of State for the Home Department: “I have examined the parties’ respective skeleton arguments. It is apparent from these that the material that needs to be protected in the interests of justice is very tightly entangled with less sensitive details required for the court to properly determine the claim.

“This means that the bulk of the hearing must be in private.”

Opening statements in the case were heard in public on Tuesday, with lawyers for the duke arguing he “plainly” deserved full royal security cover when he’s in the UK.

Shaheed Fatima QC argued that her client should be given state-funded security in view of the “threats and risks he faces” due to his lifelong “status, background and profile within the royal family”.

The barrister also told the High Court during Tuesday’s open hearing: “The claimant’s consistent position has been, and remains, that he should be given state security in light of the threats/risks he faces.”

The government has said Harry is treated in a “bespoke manner” when it comes to his security cover, with James Eadie KC telling the court that “the risk of a successful attack” had been considered while evaluating his case.