The Duke’s lawyers have appeared in court over the decision for his bodyguards to be taken away, exposing the one commitment Harry can’t seem to make.
There was a time when royal life was defined by what was on the verboten list: No selfies, no talking about one’s feelings, no public displays of affection, no knees on view, no crying, no complaining, no knee-crossing, and no moaning about having to spend summer in rural Scotland pretending one enjoys fly-fishing.
They’re obviously dominoes that have all fallen and even a decade ago, with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge newly on the books, the very notion that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall might appear on the cover of Vogue, Prince William would record a podcast and talk about his love of AC/DC and that Prince Harry would pop on a US TV network to complain about his family would have been side-splittingly, laughably ridiculous.
But, the times, they are a-changin’ (with apologies to Bob Dylan).
Now, the options open to an enterprising HRH intent on making it in the 21st century are pretty much legion. And yet despite this, one of the interesting things which has come into focus this week is one thing that Harry just will not – or perhaps cannot – do.
On Friday, lawyers for the 37-year-old were back in court in London as he continued his legal fight against the Home Office over the decision for the Sussex family to no longer receive the “same degree” of taxpayer-funded security in the UK after he and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex quit official royal life in 2020.
That ruling was made in February 2020 by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) but now his QC, Shaheed Fatima, has told the court in a written submission that the Duke had not known at the time that members of the royal household were on the committee.
Turns out that the Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young, her assistant private secretary and the master of the Prince of Wales’s household were in fact members of Ravec when the Sussex ruling was made.
“He was told that it was an independent decision,” Ms Fatima told the court. She also said that her client should have been given a “clear and full explanation” of who sat on Ravec, including members of the royal household.
The QC also told the judge that the Duke of Sussex “did not believe Sir Edward should have been involved,” the Telegraph has reported.
“There were significant tensions between the claimant and Sir Edward Young,” Ms Fatima told the court.
The judge presiding, Jonathan Swift, replied: “That is quite a bold submission to make.”
Harry’s QC also said that the royal had offered to pay for his own security however that was not then passed on to Ravec.
But wait, there’s more!
According to Newsweek, Harry’s legal team “has indicated that he will file a new lawsuit relating to his offer to pay for his police protection” which would bring the total number of legal cases he has on the go to … I honestly don’t know, I’ve lost count.
But the biggest question in all of this is, why? Why is Harry going to such an expense (this case could end up costing well into the six figures by the time it’s done and dusted) and what must surely be a lot of stress, to wage war over a decision that would not seem to have any direct impact on his day-to-day life?
(In February, the legal team for the Home Office told the court that if they won they would want to recover the cost of the case, which the Daily Mail reported at the time could cost up to the $700,000 mark.)
Harry himself has spent approximately 12 days in the UK (his brief trips for Prince Philip’s funeral, the unveiling of the Diana statue and the Platinum Jubilee) over the last two-and-a-half years (or the 850-odd days since his final engagement as working member of the royal family), and his family, a grand total of four days. That translates to 1.4 per cent (again, very approximately) of the Duke’s time has been spent in the UK since the couple triggered the sonic boom that was Megxit.
Beyond any of this, the Windsors might not exactly be in contention for family of the year, but nor are they so cold-blooded that they would wish any harm to come to Harry, Meghan and their kids.
Likewise surely (hopefully) everyone involved in the decision-making about their protection would be cognisant of the very horrible fact that the Sussexes’ security needs, as the only branch of the Queen’s family to include a person of colour, are sadly always going to be much more complex than that of, for example, Princess Anne. (Even though she is a full-time working member of the royal family, she only receives protection when she’s undertaking official duties.)
In fact, the counsel for the Home Office, Sir James Eadie QC, said in his written submission that Ravec would provide security to the Sussexes on a “flexible, nuanced, responsive and context-specific” basis.
Which brings us back to the same point: Why is Harry fighting tooth and nail over a decision that does not affect 98.6 per cent of his life? And even when they are all in the UK, as was the case last month for the Jubilee, would the Duke have taken his family if he was not happy with the security arrangements put in place?
For all that Harry and Meghan are forging a new life in California, he still seems unable to let go of the hurts and trials of the past.
Despite having two adorable kidlets, hundreds of millions of dollars set to come in, according to the deals the Sussexes’ inked in 2020, a whopping mansion (the first property he has ever independently owned) and all the bike-riding spare time a man could want, he still seems intent on litigating (literally and figuratively) the slings and arrows of his former life.
In April, after he and Meghan made a speedy visit to see the Queen when they were en route to the Netherlands for the Invictus Games, Harry used a subsequent TV appearance to take a jab at The Firm, saying that he had wanted to make sure his grandmother was “protected” and has the “right people around her”.
Then there is Harry’s forthcoming memoir, a title which he has promised will offer “the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned”.
The chance that that in reality will translate into several hundred pages of positivity, upbeat musings and funny anecdotes about corgis are about as high as the Queen taking up pole dancing.
Harry is currently forging a life of his very own making, one built on his hopes and aspirations and is raising his family with Meghan far away from the hoopla and rules of royalty and he has given up so much to have the freedom to do all of this.
Choose happiness. Choose joy. Choose to look forward and not eternally back.
Or as the Sussexes’ neighbour and friend Oprah Winfrey has said “You are responsible for your life … Life is really about moving on.”
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
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