Prince Harry truly has become the Duke of Hazard.
He’s frozen himself out of the royal family with his appearance on Oprah Winfrey, his memoir Spare – and now his ongoing battle in the High Court to get the UK government to reverse its decision to provide him with less police protection when he comes back for visits.
There’s been a lot said about him “whining” and costing the now very hard-pressed British taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds by continuing his security fight in the High Court.
But everyone would do well to remember this is a man deeply haunted by the death of Princess Diana.
His much-loved mother died tragically in a car accident that could so easily have been avoided and that was caused in part by her giving up her Scotland Yard protection.
I vividly recall meeting with Diana in November 1993 at Kensington Palace when she asked me: “What would be the best advice you could give me?”
I had no hesitation in saying: “Not knowing your future plans ma’am – I urge you not to abandon your Scotland Yard security – yes sometimes we did invade your privacy, but we kept you alive.”
Six weeks later, she stood down her Scotland Yard security, and was then forever pursued by the world’s media until her accident in Paris.
Harry was understandably traumatised following her death and has denounced the paparazzi who pursued her before the crash.
He has repeatedly used the debate that the pursuing paparazzi in the closing years of his late mother’s life and the fatal crash in Paris in 1997 was the cause of her death.
But the final inquest into her death in London confirmed the crash was primarily the cause of driver Henri Paul having consumed excess alcohol – and not the pursuing paparazzi.
He and his wife Meghan have fought successful privacy battles and do not face the same time of frenzied mobs as Diana.
It’s totally understandable her death must clearly make him dwell on his security, but I hope he can start to heal and put that nagging fear he and his wife could meet the same fate as Diana in the past.
My advice to him – and his family – is this: accept the offer of limited protection from the UK government, to work in collaboration with your own private security whilst in the UK.
This is the best option available to Harry at the moment.
His decision to quit royal duties was his and his alone, and he can no longer expect the same level of security as working royals, especially when he is living most of the time in LA.
Following his meeting with the late Queen Elizabeth about his and his wife’s royal ‘Megxit’, she acknowledged his situation and offered a compromise – but it was a compromise he never anticipated.
In brief, Her Majesty said: “You are part of this working family here in the UK only.”
In other words, Harry’s hopes for a six-month period in, and six-month period out of the royal family every year were scuppered!
Once in the US and outside of royal duties, Harry was no longer a working royal – and with that went his personal security.
It was a fair exchange.He wanted out, and he got out.But the loss of his full royal security cover angered him greatly, and he still seems totally unable to see why such protection was withdrawn.
His global popularity and the constant media attention he attracted does rightly demand protection for him and his family whilst in the US.
But the only option left to him when he left The Firm was hire celebrity personal protection at his expense.
It’s true Harry has every reason to be concerned for his security.
There can be no doubt he and his wife’s actions and business interests in America – including their interview with Oprah, Netflix deals and the publication of Harry’s memoir – attracts inquisitive, and sometimes dangerous fixated individuals, who will test the boundaries of their security.
But Harry and Meghan must accept that on occasion their privacy will be annoyingly invaded.
This regrettably comes as part of the package of their privileged lives.
Harry’s main concerns seem to be for his and his family’s safety when they enter the UK.And as I said, a lot of that worry is because he is clearly haunted by the circumstances of Diana’s death.
He needs to take comfort in the fact the Home Office and Scotland Yard agree that under the circumstances of his UK visits, a full risk assessment would take place and appropriate protection will be provided.
In short, a liaison officer from the Royal Protection command would be deputised to work alongside his personal security detail.
In Harry’s mind this is totally unacceptable, hence the court action he alone has instigated.
From my personal experiences working with inbound members of foreign royal families to the United Kingdom, each have their own protection, and a deputised liaison officer in the UK assigned to them was both efficient, and effective, and allowed access to both Royal and Government properties when required.
This compromise should answer all the concerns Harry has about his security here in the UK.
His insistence however, to demand a full protection team from the Royal Protection command cannot, based on my royal protection experience, be justified without his working royal status.
As protection officer to Harry’s late mother Diana from 1987 to 1993 I witnessed intrusions on her life on a regular basis.
She was often openly annoyed at such intrusions, but like all other members of the royal family, Diana accepted it as a “downside” of her privileged position – and got on with her life, just like the other royals.
Harry would do well to remember how she reacted to the many such incidents of her privacy being invaded, get on with his life – and stop this incessant whinging.
SAS-trained officer Ken Wharfe was chosen to head up the security for the Queen’s grandchildren, Prince William and Prince Harry – who as children, affectionately called him ‘Uncle Ken’.
A year later, in 1987, he was appointed a Personal Protection Officer to the Princess of Wales.His best-selling books on his time with the royals include
Diana – Closely Guarded Secret and Guarding Diana – Protecting the Princess around the World.