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Prince Harry had ‘significant tensions’ with top royal aide Sir Edward Young, High Court hears

Prince Harry had a strained relationship with one of the Queen’s top aides, the High Court has today been hold. 

‘Significant tensions’ are said to have existed between the Duke of Sussex and the Queen’s Private Secretary, Sir Edward Young, according to the prince’s legal team.  

The pair’s relationship was today brought to light at the High Court as part of Prince Harry’s legal battle with the Home Office over its decision to cut his UK police protection.

The duke is taking legal action against the department after being told he would no longer be given the ‘same degree’ of personal protective security when visiting from the US – despite offering to pay for it himself.

Who is Sir Edward Young? 

Sir Edward Young is the current Private Secretary to the Queen.

A former Barclays executive, his main role is as the main channel of communication between the monarch and the UK Government – as well as those of the Commonwealth.

A historic position first created in 1805, it has been held by Sir Edward since 2019.

Sir Edward took over the role from Lord Geidt – who recently quit as the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser.

Alongside holding senior roles at Barclays, Sir Edward has also served as an adviser to then Tory Leader of the Opposition, William Hague, and as a communications chief for ITV.

The 37-year-old royal is challenging the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec).

The group falls under the remit of the Home Office. But today the High Court heard how members of the Royal Household were involved in the decision involving his police protection.

Shaeed Fatima QC, for the duke, told the court: ‘He (Prince Harry) didn’t know at that stage that the Royal Household was involved at all … he was told it was an independent decision.’ 

Ms Fatima said that it was not ‘appropriate’ for Sir Edward or senior members of the Royal Household to have had any say on the matter.

And she suggested to the High Court that Prince Harry’s concerns – and his offer to pay for the security – had not been ‘fully communicated’ to the Ravec committee.

The duke’s representatives previously said how he wants to bring wife Meghan Markle and their children Archie and Lilibet to visit from the US, but that they are ‘unable to return to his home’ because it is too dangerous.

They returned last month for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee after reportedly being given ‘cast iron assurances’ they would be protected by specialist police.

The duke’s legal team are seeking to argue that the security arrangements set out in a letter from Ravec, and their application when he visited the UK in June 2021, were invalid due to ‘procedural unfairness’ because he was not given an opportunity to make ‘informed representations beforehand’. 

The Duke of Sussex (pictured here with Meghan Markle) is taking legal action against the department after being told he would no longer be given the ‘same degree’ of personal protective security when visiting from the US, despite offering to pay for it himself

The royal, 37, says he wants to bring wife Meghan Markle and their children Archie and Lilibet (pictured together here) to visit from the US

The royal, 37, says he wants to bring wife Meghan Markle and their children Archie and Lilibet (pictured together here) to visit from the US

As the Queen's private secretary, Sir Edward (pictured) is responsible for keeping a channel of communication between the monarch and the governments of the Commonwealth

As the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward (pictured) is responsible for keeping a channel of communication between the monarch and the governments of the Commonwealth

What is Harry’s concern with UK security and why is he taking legal action?

Are Harry and his family covered by security arrangements currently?

He and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, personally fund a private protection team in the US for their family.

The Sussexes have signed multimillion-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, with Harry telling Oprah Winfrey he secured these to pay for his security.

But he and Meghan lost their taxpayer-funded police protection in the UK in the aftermath of quitting as senior working royals.

Why did they lose their taxpayer-funded security?

Their security provision was one of the key issues when the couple announced they wanted to step down in 2020.

Speaking to Winfrey during the couple’s sit-down interview in 2021, Harry said he was told that ‘due to our change of status – we would no longer be ‘official’ members of the royal family’.

He said he had been shocked by this and ‘pushed back’ on the issue, arguing that there had been no change of threat or risk to the couple.

Meghan, during the same interview, told how she had written to her husband’s family urging them not to ‘pull his security’, but had been told ‘it’s just not possible’.

At the time of announcing their stepping back from royal life in 2020, their website suggested the Home Office, through the Metropolitan Police, should continue to provide protection for the couple and Archie, their only child at the time.

Have they offered to pay for police protection in the UK themselves?

Yes. Harry wants to fund the security himself, rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill, his legal representative said.

He first offered to personally pay for police protection in the UK for himself and his family during the so-called Sandringham summit in January 2020, but the legal representative said that offer ‘was dismissed’.

The representative added that Harry ‘remains willing to cover the cost of security, as not to impose on the British taxpayer’.

Can they use the same security team they have while in the US?

Harry’s legal representative said that while the couple personally fund a private security team for their family, ‘that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the UK’.

His argument is that the US team does not have adequate jurisdiction abroad or access to UK intelligence information which is needed to keep the Sussex family safe. 

So what is Harry doing about the issue of his UK security now?

In September 2021, he filed a claim for a judicial review against the Home Office decision not to allow him to personally pay for police protection for himself and his family while in the UK.

His legal team said this course of action was taken ‘after another attempt at negotiations was also rejected’.

They said the judicial review bid is an attempt to ‘challenge the decision-making behind the security procedures, in the hopes that this could be re-evaluated for the obvious and necessary protection required’.

What threats do the couple see themselves as facing in the UK? 

In a statement, the legal representative said: ‘He remains sixth in line to the throne, served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan, and in recent years his family has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats. While his role within the Institution has changed, his profile as a member of the Royal Family has not. Nor has the threat to him and his family.’

Has the Home Office said anything about the bid for judicial review?

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The UK Government’s protective security system is rigorous and proportionate. It is our long-standing policy not to provide detailed information on those arrangements. To do so could compromise their integrity and affect individuals’ security.

‘It would also not be appropriate to comment on the detail of any legal proceedings.’

Will the couple return to the UK if the issue is not resolved in the way they would like?

A spokesperson for the duke has said that, in the absence of what they consider to be the necessary protection, ‘Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home’.

They insisted the UK ‘will always be Prince Harry’s home’, adding that it is ‘a country he wants his wife and children to be safe in’.

But they added: ‘With the lack of police protection, comes too great a personal risk.’  

In written arguments, Ms Fatima said Harry was not given a ‘clear and full explanation’ of the composition of Ravec and those involved in its decision-making – for example, that it included the Royal Household.

She also said his understanding was that his points regarding security, which he passed on to the Royal Household, were being ‘fully and properly communicated to Ravec’.

Ms Fatima said he was denied the opportunity to make representations directly to Ravec and was ‘materially prejudiced’ because ‘among other things, his offer to pay (for security) was not conveyed to Ravec before the decision was made’.

She added: ‘He does not know what else – as communicated by him to the Royal Household – was not fully/timeously conveyed to Ravec.

‘He was deprived of the opportunity to comment on the appropriateness of Ravec’s process (and) the involvement of certain individuals in the Ravec process prior to the decision being made.

‘It is arguable that, if there had been a fair process, Ravec would or could have reached a different decision.’

Lawyers for the Home Office say Ravec was entitled to reach the decision it did, which is that the duke’s security arrangements will be considered on a ‘case by case’ basis, and argue that permission for a full judicial review should be refused.

Sir James Eadie QC, representing the Home Office, said in written arguments that any tensions between Harry and Royal Household officials are ‘irrelevant’ to his change in status.

He said: ‘In his skeleton, the claimant now refers to objections he might have made to any role being played by officials of the Royal Household in Ravec’s decision-making – apparently because of personal tensions he felt with them.

‘But there is no bias challenge and any such tensions are irrelevant to the undisputed fact of the claimant’s change in status which led to the decision of Ravec.

‘The inability of the claimant even now to explain how a process of representations could or would have assisted is striking.’

Sir James also said there is ‘no basis for the court to conclude that it would be anything other than highly likely’ that allowing Harry to make representations to Ravec before the decision was made ‘would not have led to that decision being substantially different, or even at all different’.

At a previous hearing in March, the judge ruled that parts of the court documents in the case should be remain private.

The challenge came after he was told he would no longer be given the ‘same degree’ of personal protective security when visiting from the US, where he and Meghan now live after dramatically quitting from their roles as frontline royals.

Ms Fatima previously told the court that Harry considers the UK ‘is and always will be his home’.

A representative for Harry previously said the duke wants to fund the security himself, rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill.

However, Robert Palmer QC, for the Home Office, previously told the court the duke’s offer of private funding was ‘irrelevant’.

In written submissions, he said: ‘Personal protective security by the police is not available on a privately financed basis, and Ravec does not make decisions on the provision of such security on the basis that any financial contribution could be sought or obtained to pay for it.’

At a preliminary hearing earlier this year, the High Court in London heard an application by both sides for some parts of the court documents in the case to be kept private. 

Mr Justice Swift said the bid to withhold or redact documents – including a confidential witness statement made by Harry – was allowed.

The judge said: ‘Some of the information relied on concerns security arrangements put in place either for the claimant or for other public figures in the United Kingdom. For obvious reasons information on such matters usually remains confidential.’

Mr Justice Swift said that some parts of his reasons for the decision would have to remain confidential as well.

He added that editing out information from court documents would ‘avoid the risk that putting information into the public domain concerning security arrangements made on past occasions, and the general approach to whether and if so what arrangements should be made, may impair the effectiveness of arrangements in place now, or which may be put in place in the future’.

‘Information about these matters would self-evidently be of interest to anyone wishing to harm a person within the scope of the security arrangements and would assist them to piece together previous practice with a view to anticipating present or future security provision,’ he continued.

After the judgment was made public, Mr Justice Swift criticised Harry’s legal team for breaking the embargo on the document. 

High Court judgments are typically provided to lawyers in the case under embargo in a draft form ahead of being made public.

However, Mr Justice Swift said that a copy of today’s ruling had been emailed to someone who was not a lawyer, against court rules, calling this ‘entirely unacceptable’.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (pictured) returned with their two children  last month for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee after reportedly being given 'cast iron assurances' they would be protected by specialist police

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (pictured) returned with their two children  last month for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee after reportedly being given ‘cast iron assurances’ they would be protected by specialist police

High Court (pictured: Library image of the Royal Courts of Justice in London) judgments are typically provided to lawyers in the case under embargo in a draft form ahead of being made public

High Court (pictured: Library image of the Royal Courts of Justice in London) judgments are typically provided to lawyers in the case under embargo in a draft form ahead of being made public

Shaheed Fatima QC, for the duke, said she and her team were unsure about whether sending the draft judgment last week was a breach, but had decided to report it to the judge on Wednesday.

However, the senior judge said it was a ‘clear breach’ and questioned why it had not been raised immediately.

Mr Justice Swift continued: ‘It should have been obvious that what happened was a breach. At the very least, it should have been obvious that it needed to be reported to the judge, me, at as soon as possible.’

‘It is also unacceptable that you come without an apology to the court,’ he later said.

Ms Fatima said she took full responsibility and apologised ‘for the fact that I didn’t think fully before the emails were sent’.

Mr Justice Swift said he will give his decision on today’s hearing in writing at a later date on whether to grant permission for a full hearing. 

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The UK Government’s protective security system is rigorous and proportionate. 

‘It is our long-standing policy not to provide detailed information on those arrangements, as doing so could compromise their integrity and affect individuals’ security.

‘It would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.’

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