Prince Harry argued that he and his wife, Meghan Markle, could not afford to pay for their own security until they could earn their own money, court papers have revealed.
He sent an email to Edward Young, the late Queen Elizabeth’s private secretary, in April 2020 in which he said that he “made it clear we couldn’t afford private security until we were able to earn”.
The message was disclosed in legal documents relating to his libel claim against The Mail on Sunday, which hinges on a “false claim” concerning his willingness to pay for his own police protection in the UK.
He has asked Mr Justice Matthew Nicklin to rule in his favour without a trial, an application the newspaper said was “wholly without merit”.
The prince is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over an article that was published last February concerning his legal challenge against the UK government’s decision to deny him and his family the right to automatic police protection in the UK.
The article said he had tried to keep “secret” parts of his legal fight with the Home Office over his security, and that he had tried to “spin” the dispute in his favour by claiming that he had offered to pay for protection himself.
It suggested that when news of Harry’s legal battle with the government was first revealed, his PR team released a statement saying that he had offered to “pay personally for UK police protection”, but that it was refused.
The estranged royal argued that the story suggested he had lied and had “improperly and cynically tried to manipulate and confuse public opinion”.
Prince Harry insists he offered to pay for his own security during the so-called Sandringham Summit in January 2020, a meeting at which the late queen and King Charles were present, but that the offer was dismissed. He then reiterated the offer at a meeting with Mark Sedwill, who was then the cabinet secretary and UK home security adviser, the following month, he says.
He eventually sought a judicial review against the Home Office decision in September 2021. However, the newspaper’s case is that the offer was not made or communicated to the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) before Harry launched legal proceedings.
ANL argued at the UK High Court that Harry’s criticism of the government’s decision was “materially misleading”.
Andrew Caldecott KC, for ANL, said that press statements released on Prince Harry’s behalf suggested he was willing to pay for his protection and that his legal challenge concerned the UK government’s refusal to permit him to do so, whereas “the true position” was that he had made the offer to pay only after legal proceedings had started.
“The public statements were a criticism by a prominent member of the royal family of an alleged and specified government decision directly affecting him to his detriment,” he said. “That is a serious context requiring accuracy. The public statement closes with the words, ‘we feel it necessary to release a statement setting the facts straight’.
“It is a remarkable submission that this is not materially misleading because, in the claimant’s case, an offer was made to his family and dismissed by them.”
Mr Caldecott added in court documents: “It is the more remarkable when the right question is asked: could an honest commentator express the opinion that the public statements [in fact misleading on this premise] were ‘spin’?”
Telegraph Media Group Limited