Prince Harry loses security court ruling, potentially impacting his visits to UK

Harry recently returned to the U.K. to see King Charles, who is battling cancer.

February 28, 2024, 7:57 AM
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex departs the Rolls Building of the High Court after giving evidence during the Mirror Group phone hacking trial in London, June 6, 2023.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex departs the Rolls Building of the High Court after giving evidence during the Mirror Group phone hacking trial in London, June 6, 2023.
Max Mumby/indigo/Getty Images

Prince Harry has suffered a legal defeat in a ruling that could have implications on whether he and his wife, Duchess Meghan, and their two children, Archie and Lilibet, visit the United Kingdom.

A London judge ruled Wednesday that U.K. government had the right to strip Harry of an automatic security detail during visits to Britain. With the ruling, Harry's ability to have taxpayer-funded security protection in the U.K. will continue to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Harry, 39, plans to appeal the judge's ruling, a spokesperson for the duke told ABC News.

"The Duke of Sussex will appeal today’s judgment which refuses his judicial review claim against the decision-making body RAVEC, which includes the Home Office, the Royal Household and the Met Police," the spokesperson said in a statement, adding, "The Duke is not asking for preferential treatment, but for a fair and lawful application of RAVEC’s own rules, ensuring that he receives the same consideration as others in accordance with RAVEC’s own written policy ... The Duke of Sussex hopes he will obtain justice from the Court of Appeal, and makes no further comment while the case is ongoing.”

Harry, the fifth in line to the throne, has been fighting back against a 2020 decision by the government that denied his family automatic taxpayer-funded police protection while in Britain after he and Meghan stepped down from their roles as senior working royals.

PHOTO: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex departs the Rolls Building of the High Court after giving evidence during the Mirror Group phone hacking trial in London, June 6, 2023.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex departs the Rolls Building of the High Court after giving evidence during the Mirror Group phone hacking trial in London, June 6, 2023.
Max Mumby/indigo/Getty Images

At the time, the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, known as RAVEC, made a decision that security for the Sussexes would be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Harry, who now lives in California with Meghan and their children, has said he wants police protection for his family while on British soil and is willing to pay for the cost himself.

The judge's ruling on Harry's security case came less than two weeks after Harry made an overnight trip to the U.K. to see his father, King Charles III, who has been diagnosed with an undisclosed type of cancer.

Harry's visit with Charles marked the first time he has seen his father since May, when he traveled to the U.K. to attend Charles' coronation. Harry traveled by himself both to the coronation and to see his father earlier this month.

The last time Meghan is known to have joined Harry in the U.K. was in September 2022, when they both attended the funeral for Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

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Harry and Meghan's children, Archie, 4, and Lilibet, 2, joined their parents on a trip to the U.K. in June 2022 to attend the queen's jubilee. Archie, who was born in the U.K., and Lilibet, who was born in California, are not known to have visited the U.K. since.

PHOTO: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Invictus Games Vancouver Whistlers 2025's One Year To Go Winter Training Camp on Feb. 14, 2024 in Whistler, British Columbia.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Invictus Games Vancouver Whistlers 2025's One Year To Go Winter Training Camp on Feb. 14, 2024 in Whistler, British Columbia.
Andrew Chin/Getty Images, FILE

In an interview earlier this month, prior to the court's ruling, Harry told ABC News' Will Reeve that he has upcoming trips to the U.K. on his schedule.

"I’ve got other trips planned that will take me through the U.K., or back to the U.K., and so I’ll stop in and see my family as much as I can," Harry said.

Since moving to California, the Sussexes have relied on a privately-funded security team.

The family's current security situation is similar to that of Harry's late mother Princess Diana who had to rely on private security protection after her divorce from Harry's father Prince Charles in 1996.

One year later, in 1997, Diana died in a car crash in Paris after the car she was riding in was pursued by paparazzi.

"When Diana died, she didn't have police protection. She had a private security team at that point," Victoria Murphy, ABC News royal contributor, previously told ABC News. "And I think it's very clear that Prince Harry feels that the police protection is superior and that that is what he wants for his family."

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