Why Couldn’t Meghan and Prince Harry Get Security in the U.S.? A Royal Expert Weighs In

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey has shaken the royal family institution. One of the biggest shocks was the reveal that Harry, Meghan, and Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor were denied security by the family when they moved to the United States.

The threats to their lives didn’t dissipate when they left the United Kingdom, so why would their family let them go unprotected, even if they weren’t senior royals anymore? A royal expert shared their insight on why they think the decision made sense, even if harsh.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images

Why did Harry and Meghan choose Canada?

When Meghan and Harry were preparing to leave the royal family, moving out of the U.K. was the best choice for their mental health. As they told Oprah, they chose Canada because Meghan had lived there before and it was still part of the Commonwealth. They hoped to still serve Queen Elizabeth II from afar.

When they moved to Canada with Archie, their security went with them. Negotiations about their future in the royal family were still ongoing at this time. Eventually, “the firm” decided to cut Harry off financially. This also meant losing his patronages, honorary military titles, and his family’s security detail—a decision he said was relayed at “short notice.”

“Their justification was a change in status,” Harry said. “To which I pushed back and said, is there a change in threat or risk?” The answer was no.

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Meghan and Harry’s security costs

This was all happening when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was on the cusp of shutting down the world. The couple quickly realized they needed to make a plan, or else they would be locked down in Vancouver with no protection. Meghan and Harry fled to L.A. before lockdown began because Tyler Perry offered his home and security.

Senior members of the royal family receive 24/7 protection. Harry has been receiving that security his entire life, as have the other senior royals and their spouses and children. Less senior royal family members, like Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, grew up with security, but they now pay for their own.

The Royal and VIP Executive Committee (RAVEC) provides all of the royal family’s security detail. It is part of the U.K. police force and is paid for entirely in U.K. taxpayer money. According to the Evening Standard, it costs about $138.8 million a year, or £100 million.

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry stand on the Buckingham Palace balcony in 2018 | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

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Will Harry and Meghan pay for their own security?

Royal expert Victoria Arbiter told Vox that when it comes to royal protocol, Meghan, Harry, and Archie being denied security makes sense.

“They were living in Canada as private individuals,” she said. “They then moved to the United States. They couldn’t justify to the British taxpayers why they were still having taxpayer-funded security, even though they were living in another country and they were no longer senior working members of the royal family.”

As Arbiter continued:

Now, Harry was right that the threat assessment risk hadn’t dropped. He was just as much a target as he was before, but the royal family answers to the British public, and the British public needs to know that they’re getting value for their money. If they found out that their taxpayer funds were going to protect two private individuals living 6,000 miles away, there would have been an outcry. So that’s why Harry and Meghan lost their taxpayer-funded security.

This highlights a fundamental flaw within the royal family institution. While it’s understandable not to expect British taxpayers to continue paying for the couple’s safety in the U.S., the royals themselves could have figured out a way to help their family members instead of making them feel like they were up sh*t’s creek without a paddle. Charles even stopped taking Harry’s calls around this time.

They left them to figure it out on their own. And figure it out, they did. Meghan and Harry are now paying for their own security. At first, they were living off of the money Princess Diana left Harry in her will. They now make money through lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify.