Prince Harry was reportedly denied a room at Windsor Castle during his U.K. visit, leaving him without police protection overnight—18 months after the prince declared Britain unsafe for his family.
The Duke of Sussex on September 7 attended the WellChild Awards, in London, as patron of the U.K. charity, which helps seriously ill children be cared for at home with their families, rather than in hospital.
However, Harry was not able to stay at his former home, Frogmore Cottage, having been told to move out by the royals at the beginning of the year.
The Daily Telegraph reported that he was offered a room at Balmoral, in Scotland, where the king spent the summer, but said he did not have time on his flying visit and so requested a room at Windsor Castle.
The palace, however, said Harry had not left enough time for them to find space despite the fact the castle has 52 royal and guest rooms.
Frogmore Cottage was within the grounds of the royal estate at Windsor, which is guarded by armed police.
That meant it offered Harry and Meghan a safe haven of police security even after they were stripped of their police team when they quit royal life.
The decision to force them out of Frogmore removed that safety net though the silver lining still remained that they might be afforded a place to stay in a royal residence nonetheless.
The fact it was not logistically possible to do so this time highlights how much Harry lost when he was evicted from Frogmore and 18 months after his legal representative said in a statement: “In the absence of [police] protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home.”
Prince Harry twice sued Britain’s Home Office over the decision to remove his police protection, losing one judicial review while the other is awaiting trial.
Alex Bomberg, chief executive of private security firm Intelligent Protection International, told Regalrumination.com he felt the king was looking to send a clear message that Harry has chosen to leave Britain behind.
“I think the king is trying to be careful,” he said, “sending the right signals, being careful that he’s not seen as flip-flopping. He’s being quite robust on this. Sending the message that Harry made a decision and he can’t keep dipping his toe in and out.
“I think if they really wanted to they could have found somewhere but I do think this would have been organized long in advance.
“Something like that wouldn’t have been organised on the hoof, that would have been organized a long time in advance.”
That said, Bomberg, a former Kensington Palace aide who has provided close protection to international royals, argued finding rooms in castles and palaces can be harder than it looks as the accommodation must be fit for a prince.
“I know having worked with the royal family, there’s not empty rooms,” he said. “It’s not just about finding room. It would have been about finding somewhere suitable so you’re not disrespecting him. There’s a lot to it to be quite honest.
“They don’t have vast amounts of empty rooms, they do at Buckingham Palace but that’s being renovated.”
And there are additional issues relating to the prince’s access to his own staff who would need to be security vetted, another time-consuming process.
“You’ve not just got Harry, you’ve got his entourage as well,” Bomberg said. “They might not stay there but then they’ve still got to go in and out. You’ve then got people on and off the premises and it takes a long time to vet people. Of course, they’re not armed, his protection team.”
Such is Harry’s concern about the level of protection offered to him by private security, who in Britain cannot carry guns, that during the Platinum Jubilee he and Meghan did not leave Frogmore Cottage.
On his latest visit, he was alone, without Meghan and their children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.
While Harry clearly takes the absence of police security very seriously, Bomberg added: “Hotels are pretty safe places. It just takes more work. What you want with a flyover like that is to be able to go incognito.”
Going under the radar would obviously be easier if the prince could drive into a royal palace where every entrance was guarded by a police checkpoint.
For Harry, it may be that he can still get space in royal residences but he will have to know for the future that nothing is guaranteed.
In January 2021, a legal representative for Harry said in a statement: “Prince Harry inherited a security risk at birth, for life.
“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.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex personally fund a private security team for their family, yet that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the UK.
“In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home.”
William Brown is Regalrumination.com‘s chief royal correspondent based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @TheCrownUp and read his stories on Regalrumination.com’s The Royals Facebook page.
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