It’s Time for That Outdoor Oasis



The Telegraph

What does a ‘slimmed down’ Royal family mean for Harry and Meghan’s security?

Much was made of the issue of young Archie’s security in the Sussexes’ interview with Oprah Winfrey; Harry mentioned the topic repeatedly, while Meghan appeared to believe that in it not being granted to her son, he was being deprived of a royal privilege that would have been afforded to others. It seems possible that Prince Andrew demanding protection for his daughters may have influenced her concerns. She had known Eugenie and Beatrice, who bear royal titles, prior to meeting Harry; until 2011 the pair had 24-hour police protection – the source of much consternation within the palace – at a cost of £500,000 to the taxpayer each year, which came to an end when they were in their early 20s. Prince Andrew lobbied hard for their security to remain in place, arguing that their status as minor royals differed from their cousins on account of their HRH titles. But there can have been no discussion as to anyone “granting” a royal title – and the security that comes with it – to Archie. The rules were set in stone in 1917 and, with Prince Charles and William reportedly seeking to “slim down” the monarchy, the firstborn of the younger son could have never been expected to match the royal credentials of the young Cambridges. When George V created the House of Windsor in 1917, he restricted the scope of the Royal family: the title of Royal Highness was reserved for the sons and daughters of the Sovereign, and the sons and daughters of sons of the Sovereign (but not daughters). It was also to be granted to the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (eg today, Prince George). That is why the children of Princess Mary (daughter of George V), Princess Margaret and Princess Anne got no titles from their mothers, though some did from their fathers – the Earl of Harewood (hereditary) and the Earl of Snowdon (created for him). George V did not, however, take into account the possible longevity of monarchs. So in 2012 the Queen extended the concept so that if the Duchess of Cambridge had a first born girl, she would be HRH. Later the younger siblings, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, were born as HRHs. Archie will become an HRH automatically when Prince Charles becomes King. Security for the Sussexes – and not Archie specifically – would have been adequate while Prince Harry was a working royal, since young children are not out and about on their own. He would be protected, and it is certain that if there were any need for protection later, that would have happened. But what the plan for a slimmed down monarchy seems not to have addressed is how would things look for Harry’s children – and how Meghan might have wanted to change things. In the interview, contradicting the couple’s decision not to give Archie any title at all, the fact that her son was not a prince was held as a grudge against the Royal family, as if the lack of such a title put him at risk from external threats. She was clearly unwilling to accept well established rules, perhaps a rather more American approach to things than taken by others marrying into the family. Another factor could be that Prince Harry mythologised the idea that security was removed from his mother, leading to her death – whereas in fact Diana, Princess of Wales, decided she didn’t want it. Certainly in the interview he appeared unduly nervous about his family’s safety, while allowing glimpses of walks with Archie on a nearby beach seemed, to say the least, foolhardy. But Harry must be realistic about what his current position in the royal framework should allow – and a glance back at history might have served him well. When Edward VIII abdicated and became Duke of Windsor, he was never given security by the British Government – arguably at a time when he might have needed it most – roaming, as he did, around Europe. Of the many grudges that the Duke felt had been landed on him, this issue was never raised on either side. He neither expected security – nor was it offered. It could possibly have been argued that some sort of protection might have been granted to a man who had once been Britain’s king – as happens with former US Presidents, and nowadays former Prime Ministers. Instead, the Duke paid for his own security, such as it was. In the interview Prince Harry complained that at a certain point, while out in Canada, he was told that the British taxpayer would cease to pay for his security. Clearly this was because he was no longer a working member of the Royal family. He had stepped down – or back – as he insists. It would have been shocking for the British taxpayer to have had to finance expensive security (estimated to be around £1 million per year) for a man doing absolutely nothing for Britain. Now that he is operating commercially and independently, does he really expect us to foot what could amount to a rather considerable bill? Royal security is ultimately a matter for New Scotland Yard, who are in overall control of who is protected, how and when. The whole issue was readdressed after the serious incident in the Mall in 1974 when Princess Anne’s car was attacked and she was nearly kidnapped at gunpoint. The Princess courageously outwitted her assailant by refusing to get out of the car, and he did not have a plan B. She was rescued, but her policeman was badly wounded. Protection plans were revised. By 1982 (when the Queen’s personal detective was obliged to step down on account of his involvement with a male prostitute), the Royalty Protection Group consisted of 43 men from the uniformed branch of the Metropolitan Police who from then on accompanied members of the Royal family on public engagements, but in plain clothes. And now there is always a second car with backup sergeants in addition to the protection officer in the lead vehicle when they are on public engagements (not on private excursions). The disappearance of British security is one of the many things that Prince Harry needs to come to terms with in his self-imposed exile – an unfortunate truth they will need to resolve.



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