Prince Harry has told a court that he and wife Meghan Markle were “forced” out of the UK, rather than voluntarily choosing to step down from royal duties.
The Duke of Sussex is legally challenging the UK Home Office over its decision to downgrade his security detail when he is visiting from his home base in California.
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Harry, 39, submitted a statement on Thursday claiming that he and Meghan had left the UK in 2020 with “great sadness” and that it would always remain his “home”.
“It was with great sadness to both of us that my wife and I felt forced to step back from this role and leave the country in 2020,” the statement read.
“The UK is my home.
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“The UK is central to the heritage of my children and a place I want them to feel at home as much as where they live at the moment in the United States.
“That cannot happen if there is no possibility to keep them safe when they are on UK soil.
“I can’t put my wife in danger like that, and given my experiences in life I’m reluctant to unnecessarily put myself in harm’s way too.”
The Home Office has argued that it was Harry’s decision to relocate to the US, which prompted the taxpayer-funded security downgrade.
When Harry and Meghan released their initial statement about leaving the UK, the words “chosen” rather than “forced” were used.
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the pair said.
“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.
“It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.”
Prince Harry is challenging the British government’s decision to strip him of a security detail. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP
On Thursday, however, Harry’s barrister Shaheed Fatima said Harry did not feel that his decision to step down as a senior royal had really been a “choice”.
The three-day hearing in London’s High Court is the latest in a series of Harry’s legal cases as he challenges the decision by the UK government over his protection and takes on the British tabloid media he has vowed to hold accountable for intruding in his life since he was a child.
He failed to persuade a different judge earlier this year that he should be able to privately pay for London’s police force to guard him when he comes to town.
A judge denied that offer after a government lawyer argued that officers shouldn’t be used as “private bodyguards for the wealthy”.
Harry said he didn’t feel safe bringing his wife and their two young children back to Britain and was concerned about his own safety after being chased by paparazzi following a London charity event.
Prince Harry and Meghan. Credit: Supplied
Harry’s animosity toward the media dates back to the death of his mother Princess Diana in a car crash in 1997 as her driver tried to outrun aggressive photographers in Paris.
Harry, whose wife is biracial, cited what he said were racist attitudes and unbearable intrusions of the British media in his decision to leave the UK.
Tabloids in the UK have had a field day with Harry’s assertion that he “felt forced” to step down from royal duties and move to the US.
Daily Mail UK’s Palace Confidential editor Richard Eden declared on Thursday that Harry and Meghan were doing “huge damage to the monarchy” and should be stripped of their titles.
Eden said Harry’s latest claims were the last in a long line of slights against the rest of the royal family.
“The latest episode in the couple’s shameful sojourn overseas has seen them fail to say a word since their most outspoken cheerleader, Omid Scobie, dragged the names of King Charles and the Princess of Wales through the mud,” he fumed.
A spokesman for Harry and Meghan has declined to comment on the revelations in the book Endgame. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP
“They were identified as the so-called ‘racist royals’ who, according to Prince Harry and Meghan, discussed the likely skin colour of their son, Prince Archie.
“As they clearly intended when they gave their explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey, Harry and Meghan are doing huge damage to the Monarchy.
“With their lurid claims of ‘racism’ now given a new lease of life, they are likely to continue wreaking more havoc if firm action is not taken now.”
– with AP
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