Prince Harry wants police protection because UK security guards can’t carry guns
Until last year, Harry had always been protected in the UK by an elite – and armed – branch of the Metropolitan Police Service known as SO14, or Royalty Protection Group. These taxpayer-funded guards provide 24/7 protection to high-profile members of the Royal Family (The Queen, Prince Charles, the Cambridge family) and accompany other members of the Royal Family further down the line of succession to official events and visits.
Only a select group of high-level individuals, such as current and former prime ministers and foreign heads of state, are permitted to receive police protection (and therefore armed protection) in the UK – and the Ministry of the Interior must give its consent.
“Guns are not an acceptable means of protection in Britain,” says the Home Office’s December 2021 guide to gun licensing. “For many years, successive governments have believed that the private possession and carrying of firearms for personal protection is likely to lead to increased levels of violence.”
That’s not to say the police won’t protect the Sussexes in times of crisis. British police are required by law to inform individuals if they become aware of a threat to their life; it stands to reason that any potential threats would be reported to the Sussexes’ security team and officers would intervene if necessary.
As things stand, Harry has given every indication that he will not be bringing his wife and children to the UK unless he has police protection. Allowing him to pay for police security would be a revolutionary precedent that could open the doors for other high-profile individuals to launch their own legal challenges.
A Sussex spokesperson declined to comment on the pending legal case and referred BuzzFeed News to its previous statement. Buckingham Palace referred BuzzFeed News to the Home Office, which declined to comment on security issues.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this summer will mark one of the greatest events in the history of the British monarchy and a golden opportunity for the Mountbatten-Windsor family to present a united front after a turbulent year.
Yet, in a strange twist of fate, the decision that could determine whether or not the family will stand together on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Jubilee celebrations could be made not by the Queen, but by the British government.