Prince Harry lost a legal challenge on Tuesday of his petition to pay for police protection in Britain, days after he and his wife, Meghan, were caught in a much-disputed confrontation with photographers in New York City.
In the case, the High Court in London rejected Harry’s request for a judicial review of a decision by the Home Office to reject his application to pay privately for protection from the Metropolitan Police when he and his family visit Britain. Lawyers for the Home Office argued that it was improper for police officers, in effect, to be hired out as private security guards.
Lawyers for Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, had argued that he and his family needed that level of protection when visiting from the United States, where he now lives, and that the prince was willing to pay for it out of his own pocket.
Harry lost his automatic police protection when he and Meghan stepped back from their duties as working members of the royal family in 2020.
The decision is a setback for Harry at a time when his security has come under heightened scrutiny. Last week, he and Meghan, along with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, were swarmed by photographers after they left an award ceremony in Midtown Manhattan. What happened after that is the subject of sharply conflicting accounts.
A spokeswoman for the couple described a “a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi.” But a taxi driver who briefly transported the three said that there had been no car chase and no reason for his passengers to be frightened, even though he acknowledged that they appeared to have been alarmed.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department said that the photographers had posed a challenge but added that the three had arrived at their destination on the Upper East Side without “reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests.”
Traveling in Britain poses a particular security challenge to Harry and Meghan because their private security guards are not allowed to carry guns.
As a working royal, the prince said that he never traveled without three armed bodyguards. During negotiations with palace officials over his new status, Harry wrote in his memoir, “Spare,” he pleaded for the bodyguards to be left in place, even if he lost all the other royal perks.
“I offered to defray the cost of security out of my own pocket,” he wrote. “I wasn’t sure how I’d do that, but I’d find a way.”