Unending travails of Prince Harry
These are not the best of times for the Sussexes! Just when Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Duchess of Sussex were caught in a much-disputed confrontation with photographers in New York City, Prince Harry, last Tuesday, lost a legal challenge in his quest to pay for police protection in Britain.
Paparazzi chased Prince Harry and his wife for two hours after they left an event in New York last week. According to their taxi driver, Sukhcharn Singh, who dropped them at the 19th Precinct in Manhattan, the couple were terrified at the unruly behaviour of paparazzi.
The Washington Post quoted Singh, who said he drove the group and a security guard for around 10 minutes before returning to the police station that he picked them up from at the security guard’s request.
“I don’t think I would call it a chase,” Singh was quoted as saying, adding that two vehicles had followed them and come next to the car, taking pictures and filming.
“I never felt like I was in danger. It wasn’t like a car chase in a movie. They (the couple) were quiet and seemed scared but it’s New York — it’s safe.” Pictures on social media showed Harry, Meghan and her mother sitting in the back of a New York taxi which their spokesperson said showed “a small glimpse at the defense and decoys required to end the harassment.”
The couple’s spokesperson said the chase on Tuesday could also have been fatal and involved paparazzi driving on the sidewalk, running red lights, and driving while taking pictures.
Those involved were confronted by police officers multiple times, according to the spokesperson. Chris Sanchez, a member of the couple’s security team, told CNN he was concerned members of the public could have been hurt.
“I have never seen, experienced anything like this,” he said. “What we were dealing with was very chaotic. There were about a dozen vehicles: cars, scooters and bicycles.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he had received a briefing that two NYPD officers could have been injured in the incident.
“I don’t think there’s many of us who don’t recall how, how his mom died,” Adams told reporters. “And it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this and something to have happened to them as well.”
He said he would be given an in-depth briefing later, but that he found it hard to believe there would have been a two-hour high speed chase.
“If it’s 10 minutes, a 10-minute chase is extremely dangerous in New York City,” Adams said.
The Ms. Foundation for Women, the organisers of the awards ceremony where Meghan was honoured for her work, said it was horrified by the episode.
“Everyone, especially the media, must do better,” the statement said. Buckingham Palace had no comment over the incident when approached, Reuters wrote.
The couple, who live in California with their two young children, had been staying at a private residence but decided against returning there as they did not wish to compromise their host’s safety, according to their spokesperson.
Harry has never hidden his dislike for the press, fuelled by the treatment his mother received and by his own experiences, particularly when he was young.
It would be recalled that on August 31, 1997, Harry’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales died in an auto crash while being chased by paparazzi in Paris. The speeding car carrying Diana away from about 14 identified photographers crashed into a pillar, killing her and her then fiancée, Dodi al-Fayed.
Twelve-year-old Harry at the time, was at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland, with other members of the royal family. Harry, who has had to live with the incident surrounding his mother’s death, stepped back on his royal duties for his family’s protection. According to him: “We all know what the British press can be like, and it was destroying my mental health. So, I did what any husband, what any father would do. I need to get my family out of here.”
Having stepped back from royal duties in 2020, Harry’s taxpayer-funded protection was removed when he stepped back as a senior royal and moved to North America with his wife, Meghan. This led to an automatic loss of police protection for Harry and Meghan as the High Court justice ruled against Prince Harry in one of his claims against the Home Secretary over his security arrangements.
He is also challenging the process by which the Home Office declined to provide him with taxpayer-supported protection – a claim that has yet to be decided.
In one of two cases involving the prince’s security, the High Court in London rejected Harry’s request for a judicial review of a decision by the Home Office to reject his application to pay privately for protection from the Metropolitan Police when he and his family visit Britain.
Lawyers for the Home Office contended that it was improper for police officers, in effect, to be hired out as private security guards. In the United States, Harry and Meghan are protected by bodyguards, who are licensed to carry weapons. However, Britain poses a particular challenge, as their private security guards are not allowed to carry guns. The legal representatives for the Duke of Sussex, had argued that he and his family needed that higher level of protection when visiting Britain, and that the prince was willing to pay for it out of his own pocket. The issue in the case in London is whether the Home Office through its Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, known by the acronym RAVEC was entitled to reject Harry’s request to pay for security, given that the police can be paid to patrol private events like soccer games.
This decision on paying for protection, which cannot be appealed, is a setback for Harry at a time when his security is highly challenged. Harry may have to put his hand in his pocket – with the possibility he could be charged full costs for the High Court suit, put at £500, 000.
As a working royal, the prince said that he never traveled without three armed bodyguards. During negotiations with palace officials over his new status, Harry, who wrote a memoir, pleaded for the bodyguards to be left in place, even if he lost the other entire royal perks. “I offered to defray the cost of security out of my own pocket. I wasn’t sure how I’d do that, but I’d find a way.”
In addition to the security cases, Harry is involved in three lawsuits against the publishers of London tabloids, The Mirror, The Daily Mail, and The Sun over allegations of cell phone hacking and other invasions of his privacy. The messy encounter with photographers in New York thrust Harry and Meghan back into the headlines in Britain, a few weeks after the prince made a fleeting, subdued appearance at the coronation of his father, King Charles III.
Some security experts have argued that Harry faces a heightened threat because of his claim, in his memoir, Spare, that he killed 25 Taliban fighters during two combat tours as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.
In the phases of Prince Harry’s hurdles, observers all over the world have raised questions on whether he could have pulled through these tough times without his strong and brave better half, Meghan who was an actress and had appeared in various TV shows and movies before meeting Prince Harry.
According to experts, Prince Harry and Meghan’s marriage appear to be stronger than ever as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex celebrated five years as a married couple on May 19, 2023.
Body language expert, Darren Stanton, praised the strength of Prince Harry and Meghan saying: “Any trauma, stress or major life event helps form the foundation of any relationship, as it makes a couple stronger. If the foundation is weak, then the relationship will not last.”
Following the recent challenges, Meghan skipped the prestigious “Women in Media” awards gala in Los Angeles, despite her podcast remark of being honoured to be chosen as this year’s winner for best Entertainment Podcast Host.
The 41-year-old Duchess of Sussex – who last week flew to New York to accept a “Women of Vision” award in person, opted not to show up at the Gracie Awards in Los Angeles, last Tuesday evening.