Prince Harry says the UK ‘is my home’ and he was ‘forced’ to ‘step back’ from royal duties and leave the country for the US, High Court hears in legal battle with the Home Office over his security

Prince Harry said the UK “is my home” and he was “forced” to “step back” from royal duties and leave the country for the US.

The Duke of Sussex has said his children cannot “feel at home” in the UK if “their safety cannot be ensured”, the High Court has heard.

In an affidavit prepared for his legal action against the Home Office over changes to security measures during the visit, Harry said he and his wife had no choice but to leave the country in 2020.

At a hearing in London today, the Duke’s lawyer Shahid Fatima K.S. said Harry disagreed that it was a “choice” for him to stop being a “full-time working member of the royal family.”

The lawyer read out an extract 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 Duke of Sussex said his children could not

The Duke of Sussex said his children cannot “feel at home” in Britain if their safety “cannot be ensured”, the High Court has heard

“Great Britain is my home. The UK is central to my children’s heritage and is a place where I want them to feel at home, just as much as where they currently live in the US. This cannot happen if their safety cannot be ensured while they are in the UK.

“I can’t put my wife in that kind of danger, and given my life experiences, I don’t want to put myself in unnecessary harm.”

Harry will now have to await a judge’s decision on his claim against the Home Office after a two-and-a-half day hearing at the Royal Court that ended on Thursday.

The Duke’s lawyers are challenging the February 2020 decision by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royals and Public Figures (Ravetz) to change the extent of his state-funded security, arguing it was “unlawful and unfair”.

Most of the proceedings were held behind closed doors, without the public or press present, because the case involved confidential evidence of security measures.

Ms Fatima previously told the court that Harry was “singled out” and treated “less favorably” in the decision to change his personal security level.

She said Ravetz failed to conduct a risk analysis and fully assess the impact of the “successful attack” on him.

The lawyer said a “crucial” part of Ravek’s approach was a review carried out by the Risk Management Board (RMB), but in Harry’s case he chose not to do this.

She said it was the first time the body had decided to “deviate” from policy by adopting a “far inferior” procedure in relation to “critical safeguards”.

“No compelling reason was provided for singling out the plaintiff (Duke) in this manner,” she said, later adding that had Ravec “properly” considered the Duke’s case, the outcome likely would have been “different.”

But the government says Harry’s claim should be thrown out, arguing that Ravek, who falls under the remit of the Home Office, was entitled to conclude that the Duke’s defense should be “individualized” and considered “on a case-by-case basis.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with security, their faces blurred, in New Zealand, 2018.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with security, their faces blurred, in New Zealand, 2018.

Sir James Eadie CC, a Home Office spokesman, said in written arguments that the decision “not to undertake a review of the yuan, but to carry out a more individualized, targeted assessment, does not amount to treating (Harry) “less favourably”.

He said Ravek decided that “an individualized process would be more effective to allow Ravek to more specifically and informedly consider the threat and risk picture for each visit.”

Sir James said it was “simply wrong” to suggest there was no evidence the issue of impact had been considered, adding that the death of Diana, Princess of Wales – Harry’s mother – had been raised as part of the decision.

He added: “Ravetz has given greater weight to the impact on the functions of the state reduced by the change, rather than what was likely to result in serious public discontent in the event of a successful attack on (Harry).”

Judge Lane will rule on the case at a later date.

The security case is one of five High Court cases the Duke is involved in, including extensive litigation against newspaper publishers.

Harry, who did not attend the hearing, lives in North America with wife Meghan and their children Archie and Lilibeth after the couple announced they were stepping down as senior members of the royal family in January 2020.

Ms Fatima had earlier opened today’s hearing by saying: “This case is about the right to safety and security of a person, there could be no more important right for any of us.”

In written submissions, she said the risk the Duke faces “arises from his birth and current status as the son of His Majesty the King”.

She continued: “The plaintiff’s consistent position has been – and remains – that he should be afforded national security in light of the threats/risks he faces.”

The lawyer later said the Duke was “clearly” part of the group Ravek should be considering.

Harry and Meghan with baby Archie during a visit to South Africa

Harry and Meghan with baby Archie during a visit to South Africa

Ms Fatima said: “As a result of the decision of 20 February, Ravek is only required to consider the security of the Duke of Sussex during his visit to the UK.

“This does not mean that he is no longer one of those that Ravek should consider; he clearly is.

But, rejecting her arguments, Sir James Eadie K.S. of the Home Office said: “There is no recognized general right to publicly funded protection.”

He said Harry was offered “tailored” treatment as his security needs were assessed each time he alerted the Home Office that he planned to visit the UK.

In written submissions he said: “When considering whether to provide security for such a person… Ravek takes into account the risk of a successful attack on that person.

‘In summary, Ravek considers the threat facing an individual as assessed by considering the capabilities and intentions of hostile actors, that individual’s vulnerability to such an attack, and the impact that such an attack would have on the state’s interests.’

He continued: “As a result of no longer being a working member of the Royal Family and living abroad most of the time, his situation has changed significantly.

“In these circumstances, security will not be provided on the same basis as before. However, in special and specific circumstances he will be afforded safety and security while in the UK.”

Sir James continued: “Accordingly, Ravek gave the plaintiff special treatment.

Harry says he doesn't feel safe bringing his family to the UK without police protection.  He is with Meghan in London in March 2020 after they stepped down as senior members of the royal family.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with security, their faces blurred, in New Zealand, 2018.

“He is no longer a member of the cohort of individuals whose security position is under the constant control of Ravek. But under appropriate circumstances, he returns to the cohort.”

The lawyer said Ravek’s job was to balance the risk of attacking a public figure against the “limited” nature of police funding.

And he said it was “perfectly reasonable” and legitimate for Ravek to believe the Duke of Sussex was backing down as a sitting member of the royal family was a factor.

“The fact that the Duke of Sussex cannot stop being a member of the royal family is trivial, but it does not affect the balance that Ravek must find. His decisions were made with this knowledge in mind.”

The lawyer added: “The decision – and its practical implementation for subsequent visits to the plaintiff – recognizes that he nevertheless occupies a special and unusual position such that it may be appropriate to provide him with protection and security in certain circumstances.”

The High Court heard that the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was raised as part of a decision regarding the safety of the Duke of Sussex.

Sir James said: “The Royal Family was aware of the wider ‘consequence’ of the tragic death of the applicant’s mother, a matter which was also referred to by the Royal Family.”

The lawyer added that “there would likely be significant public outrage if there was a successful attack on the plaintiff.”

But he continued: “This decision and its subsequent application represented a legitimate balance of relevant factors in carrying out the risk, impact and threat review.”

The case continues.