PRINCE Harry whinged he could not afford private security to protect himself after quitting royal duties “until we are able to earn”, the High Court heard.
The Duke of Sussex’s latest legal battle continued yesterday at the High Court against the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and are suing them for libel.
Harry is suing Associated Newspapers Limited over a publication of an article about his bid to force the government to provide police bodyguards when his family visit Britain.
Mr Justice Nicklin has ruled the article suggested the Duke was responsible for statements which allegedly falsely claimed he offered to pay for the police protection himself before bringing the case against the Home Office.
Harry, 38, wrote in his bombshell memoir, Spare, that a family summit with his father and brother at Sandringham where terms were laid out for his departure from royal duties in January 2020 was a “fix”.
The summit – which included the late Queen – is where Harry is said to have offered to pay for the security.
Justin Rushbrooke, KC, representing Harry, told the court that during the summit Harry offered to pay for his family’s police security.
He said it is “irrelevant” whether Harry “did or did not communicate his offer to pay directly” to the Home Office or the Royal and VIP Executive Committee [Ravec], which reviews the royal family’s security needs.
Rushbrooke said Harry never claimed he made the offer directly to the Home Office or Ravec before bringing his case.
He said Harry “self-evidently believed or assumed” the offer would be passed on.
Andrew Caldecott, KC, representing Mail on Sunday publisher Associated Newspapers, said Harry emailed Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, three months after the family summit claiming it was clear “we couldn’t afford private security until we were able to earn”.
Caledcott said Harry argues he can not disclose the full email because it is covered by a confidentiality agreement, but claims it also contained an offer to pay for his security.
Sir Michael Stevens, the Keeper of the Privy Purse is also named in the letter, the court was told.
Prince Harry also claims that three weeks after the summit he had a discussion with Sir Mark Sedwill, then Cabinet Secretary and the UK’s national security adviser, about his offer.
He allegedly “reiterated his willingness to pay for security if necessary”.
The Mail on Sunday story was published in February last year under the headline: “Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret… then – just minutes after the story broke – his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute”.
Andrew Caldecott KC, for the publisher, accuse Prince Harry of “playing fast and loose” with an earlier determination by the judge.
“The application is without merit and should be dismissed”, he said, in written submissions.
He argued that an offer to pay for security, made to members of the Royal Family, is not the same as an offer being made to government, and Harry could justifiably be accused of misleading the public.
“The claimant (Harry) was responsible for a public statement which claimed he was willing to pay for police protection and the legal challenge was to the government’s refusal to do so”, he said.
Mr Caldecott, said the argument by Harry’s lawyer amounted to “straitjacketing the newspapers right to comment.
He said it was vital the media speak truth to power, and speaking opinion to power is every bit (as), if not more, important, as long as the opinion is based on facts.
The Mail on Sunday asked the duke’s solicitor and PR agency a series of questions about the action and received a background note setting out Harry’s judicial review claims but not direct answers to the questions.
Mr Justice Nicklin said: “I don’t understand the reluctance to answer straight-forward questions about legal proceedings in the court”.
The judge reserved his ruling on whether the newspaper can continue with its defence that the article was “honest opinion”.
Harry had begun proceedings against the Home Office in September 2021 after being told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting from his home in California.
The duke has been given the go-ahead for a full hearing in that case, with the case already costing taxpayers almost £300,000 in legal bills.