"It is perfectly reasonable for a lifelong member of the royal family to have security,” says legal expert Mark Stephens

By Phil Boucher
January 24, 2020 06:20 PM
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Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have stepped back from royal life, but that doesn’t mean they’ve left the royal family.

So, when it comes to the thorny question of their security, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are likely to receive the exact same level of diplomatic protection as any other royal, regardless of “whether or not they are active members,” says Mark Stephens from London law firm Howard Kennedy.

“If you take the Dutch royal family for example, where a number of them work — the King is an airline pilot — they still have diplomatic immunity because of their status as a member of the royal family,” says Stephens.

“The same is the case in the Middle East — Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or the UAE. So it’s perfectly normal. There are no exceptions for Harry and Meghan.”

If the line of royal succession follows its current path, then Prince Harry will one day become both the son of and the brother to the King of England. So, his security needs — and that of Meghan and 8-month old son Archie — are only going to become more crucial.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty

“If they’re covered by either the Canadian or British security services, they will also have the intelligence attached which comes with that,” explains Stephens. “If you employ a private security firm, they won’t have the intelligence which is necessary to provide effective close protection.

“So, they are clearly going to get that, whatever grumblings there may be from people who are concerned about it being paid. It’s all being paid for at the moment and it doesn’t change by virtue of them stepping back.”

As for the even trickier question of who’s going to pick up Harry and Meghan’s security tab, Stephens suggests it’s likely to come from the same place it always has: the British taxpayer.

“We pay for the security of ex-politicians and government ministers who have two days in the job, so it is perfectly reasonable for a lifelong member of the royal family to have security,” he adds. “And I think the [U.K.] government will feel like that.”

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This will likely come as a relief to the Canadian public — 73% of whom believe that Harry and Meghan should pay their own costs in a recent Angus Reid survey.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

Earlier this week The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) also delivered an 80,000-signature petition to the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requesting that Canadian taxpayers don’t pick up Harry and Meghan’s multi-million dollar security bill.

“Canadians are pleased to welcome the Duke and Duchess to Canada, but have made it crystal clear that taxpayers should not be forced to support them while they are living here,” says CTF director Aaron Wudrick in a release. “The Queen has made clear that British taxpayers will no longer be supporting the Duke and Duchess. Prime Minister Trudeau owes it to ensure Canadian taxpayers receive similar respect.”