Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were facing an angry backlash today as their £20million security bill looks set to fall squarely on British taxpayers after Canada refused to keep paying.
Canadian police confirmed last night it would stop guarding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they step down as working royals and become private citizens after Megxit on March 31.
This means the cost of round-the-clock protection for the couple and baby Archie will fall to the taxpayer-funded Met Police, despite the couple leaving the UK for North America. The force refused to comment on whether the couple would contribute any private funds.
Royal expert Phil Dampier today attacked the new set-up, arguing the couple should not receive public money for security when they become private citizens with their own income, which is set to be millions of pounds a year.
‘It was only a matter of time before the Canadians stopped paying for their security because they’re no longer working royals and now obviously the burden will fall on British taxpayers,’ he told MailOnline.
‘The public will be angry at having to pay for this when they’re not spending time in the UK or contributing to the royal family. The costs will become unsustainable – they will soon have to start paying for themselves.’
The Taxpayers’ Alliance said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex can’t have it both ways: either they’re working royals with the obligations which that entails, or they’re private citizens seeking independence.’
Meghan Markle is pictured above taking her two dogs for a walk with baby Archie with Canadian security guards
UKIP founder Alan Sked was among social media users who today attacked the idea of British taxpayers footing Meghan and Harry’s security costs
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are pictured above earlier this month. It is said that costs to keep the couple safe are continuing to soar
Prince Harry is pictured above leaving Victoria International Airport in Victoria
Harry and Meghan’s travels this year and where they are expected to be going in March
It is the first time Canada has confirmed it has been helping to guard Harry and Meghan since they settled on Vancouver Island last November. But last night it announced this would cease from April in keeping with their ‘change in status’.
Canada has a legal obligation to provide security to so-called internationally protected persons.
The Sussexes arrived there on a temporary visit in November as full working royals, and the Mounties gave them protection as they always have on such visits – with Canadian taxpayers picking up the bill.
But now Harry and Meghan intend to live in North America to pursue lucrative commercial careers and will quit as senior working royals on March 31.
The prospect of UK taxpayers footing the bill sparked anger on social media today.
UKIP founder Alan Sked wrote: ‘So Canada will no longer pay the security bill for Harry and Meghan. We should certainly pay to protect them while in the UK or while representing the Queen abroad. But if they want to be independent celebrities in North America, shouldn’t they pay for their own security there?’
And Twitter user Colin Murphy commented: ‘Of course they should pay. Since marrying Meghan H has become an arrogant money grabber. I used to respect his hard work and genuine care for our “heroes”. Now he’s disrespecting the British Public to feather Meghan’s nest. Go Harry, pay security!’
Taxpayers currently pay £600,000 for the Sussexes’ team of royal protection officers, who each cost around £100,000 for their salary, overtime, overseas allowance, pensions, flights and accommodation.
But costs will rise greatly when the couple move overseas, with an internal memo seen by The Mirror predicting the couple would need at least 12 protection officers to cover them on their trips, which are often made apart.
The Met Police calculated the total annual bill could rise to £20m, according to the report.
Graham Smith, from Republic, said Harry and Meghan should have to fund their own security after becoming ‘private citizens’.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry DROP bid to trademark Sussex Royal name
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have abandoned their bid to trademark the Sussex Royal brand in Britain to cash in on their links to the monarch.
Documents filed at the Intellectual Property Office show a request to use the names Sussex Royal and Sussex Royal Foundation for commercial and charity activities in the UK had been removed.
It followed the Queen’s decision that they could not use the ‘Royal’ label after deciding to step down as working royals and move to North America.
An application to use the royal trademark on toiletries, beer, toys, jewellery and sporting goods in Europe is still active.
That is despite the couple saying last weekend that they would not use the word ‘Royal’ overseas.
‘We’re currently being asked to pay for their security where they’re doing private engagements and earnings, which is unacceptable,’ he said. ‘They’re going to be in Canada and often not together so the costs are going to be astronomical.’
There are precedents covering their own costs, with Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson paying for a team of former Met officers to protect their daughters, Eugenie and Beatrice.
Princess Diana also paid for her own security costs, although many experts say her decision to abandon Scotland Yard professionals may have contributed to her death in a car chauffeured by a drunk driver.
In a statement, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said yesterday: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing to relocate to Canada on a part-time basis presented our government with a unique and unprecedented set of circumstances.
‘The RCMP has been engaged with officials in the UK from the very beginning regarding security considerations.
‘As the duke and duchess are currently recognised as internationally protected persons, Canada has an obligation to provide security assistance on an as-needed basis.
‘At the request of the Metropolitan Police, the RCMP has been providing assistance to the Met since the arrival of the duke and duchess to Canada intermittently since November 2019.
‘The assistance will cease in the coming weeks, in keeping with their change in status.’
Buckingham Palace said today: ‘We do not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security.’
Prince Harry greets Justin Trudeau in the Blue Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace in London during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018. Mr Trudeau had previously promised that the couple would be safe when in Canada
The Duchess of Sussex, then Meghan Markle, speaks to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the One Young World summit in Ottowa in September 2016. Mr Trudeau previously said that any security arrangements for the couple would be confidential
Harry and Meghan spent their first Christmas with baby Archie at this £10million waterfront mansion on Vancouver Island in Canada
Who will foot the bill for Meghan and Harry’s security costs?
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RMCP) today revealed that they will cease to provide security for Meghan and Harry once they officially step back from their royal duties.
Canadian officials said that this had been a deal that was brokered with the Met Police in London.
In their roles as senior royals, the couple had their security paid for by the state and once they step back from these officials roles in the coming weeks it has not yet been clear as to who will foot the bill.
According to the Royals’ 2018-2019 financial reports, physical security is not covered by the Sovereign Grant.
The costs are likely to fall on British taxpayers even when the prince and the former actress move to Canada on a permanent basis.
This could be due to the fact that Harry has been a high-value target since serving in the military.
But Prince Harry is still set to receive money from his father from the Duchy Estate and could use these funds to pay to keep his family safe.
Harry is worth an estimated £30million, made up partly from funds left in a trust to him by his mother, Princess Diana, inheritance from the Queen Mother (which reportedly included her jewels) and partly from his earnings as a captain of the Army.
The decision puts the globe-trotting couple in a potentially explosive predicament.
As recently as last Friday, when they updated their personal website, the Sussexes were adamant they are legally entitled to year-round police protection.
In a statement they said: ‘It is agreed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to require effective security to protect them and their son.
‘This is based on the duke’s public profile by virtue of being born into the Royal Family, his military service, the duchess’s own independent profile, and the shared threat and risk level documented specifically over the last few years.’
But with Canada now refusing to help, the responsibility for protecting the Sussexes will be placed solely at the feet of the Metropolitan Police – and UK taxpayers.
The only other option would be for the couple to agree to pay for their own security guards.
Some have suggested they might accept the kind of arrangement favoured by Tony Blair, who pays for his own bodyguards for lucrative foreign business trips.
But the duke and duchess appear unwilling to do this, given the strength of their recent statement. Dai Davies, who led the Met’s royalty protection unit, said: ‘It’s the first time in 300 years of royalty protection that anyone has ever done this to a member of the Royal Family.
The Duke of Sussex released this photograph of him with baby Archie on New Year’s Eve, while the family were in Canada
Police in Canada have today revealed that they will stop paying Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s security costs after the pair officially step back from royal life (the couple are pictured above in London last month)