Why is Prince Harry challenging the UK government in court? Everything we know so far

5 December 2023, 19:23 | Updated: 5 December 2023, 19:26

Everything the High Court has heard so far in Harry's legal fight against the Home Office.
Everything the High Court has heard so far in Harry's legal fight against the Home Office. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Prince Harry’s case against the Home Office commenced in court on Tuesday - here’s everything to know about the case so far.

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The Duke of Sussex brought legal action against the Home Office over the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) about his security provisions.

After Prince Harry announced he would be stepping down as a working member of the Royal Family in January 2020, the Home Office removed the Duke’s taxpayer-funded security.

Ravec decided that Harry should no longer receive the “same degree” of protection when visiting the UK following his decision to step down.

What is Harry's case?

Harry was granted permission to challenge the decision in July 2022, initiating his legal fight with the Home Office.

He wants to overturn the ruling that saw his security provisions decreased and his lawyers have argued there was a lack of transparency over the decision.

The Government is opposing Harry's case, saying he is treated in a "bespoke manner", with his security provision considered by Ravec in "appropriate circumstances".

The London hearing started on Tuesday and a large part of it is set to be held in private, without the press or public present, due to confidential evidence over security measures being involved in the case.

Read more: Prince Harry 'unjustifiably treated less favourably than others' over his UK security arrangements, High Court hears

Read more: Meghan's secret sign of support for Charles as senior royals prepare to meet for the first time since racism row erupted

It comes after his case against Associated Newspapers earlier this year.
It comes after his case against Associated Newspapers earlier this year. Picture: Alamy

What was said on the first day?

The court heard the impact of a "successful attack" on Harry should have been considered as part of a decision to change his security arrangements in the UK.

The Home Office committee made the decision after Harry announced that he was stepping back from his role as a working royal, had “failed to treat (him) as it treated others”, it was also said.

Lawyers for Harry say a failure to carry out a risk analysis meant he was treated in an "unlawful and unfair" way by the move to provide him with a different degree of protection when visiting the country.

Shaheed Fatima KC, for Harry, told an initial public part of proceedings: "This case is about the right to safety and security of a person. There could not be a right of greater importance to any of us."

Ms Fatima said Ravec had chosen "a far inferior procedure" in relation to the "critical safeguards" built into its policies, claiming it was the "first time that Ravec has ever decided to deviate from this policy in this way".

Ms Fatima told the court: “Ravec should have considered the 'impact' a successful attack on the claimant would have, bearing in mind his [Harry’s] status, background and profile within the royal family - which he was born into and which he will have for the rest of his life - and his ongoing charity work and service to the public."

She also said Ravec had failed to tell Harry, who now lives in North America with wife Meghan and their children Archie and Lilibet, that he was not being treated "consistently and equally" with others nor why.

Lawyers for Harry also argued that Sir Edward should not have been included in the decision-making process, as they told the court there were tensions between the pair.

The court heard that Prince Harry was 'unjustifiably treated less favourably than others' over his UK security arrangements.
The court heard that Prince Harry was 'unjustifiably treated less favourably than others' over his UK security arrangements. Picture: Alamy

What is the Home Office's argument?

The Home Office, however, has said Harry's security is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Sir James Eadie KC, for the Home Office, said in written arguments that Ravec's assessment concluded that as Harry would “no longer be a working member of the royal family, and would be living abroad for the majority of the time, his position had materially changed”.

"In those circumstances, protective security would not be provided on the same basis as before,” he added.

"However, he would, in particular and specific circumstances, be provided protective security when in Great Britain."

Sir James said there are "finite public resources" for state-provided protective security and that it was for Ravec to decide who it took responsibility for.

He continued: "It is judged to be right in principle that the allocation of finite public resources which results from protective security provided by the state be allocated to individual who are acting in the interests of the state through their public role.

"Ravec has treated the claimant as a person who falls outside the Ravec cohort, but who nonetheless enters the cohort occasionally when in Great Britain."

The hearing will continue until Thursday with a ruling expected at a later date.

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