Queen Elizabeth wanted Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get ‘effective security,’ letter reveals

In a secret letter written by the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young, it has been revealed that the late Queen wanted Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to get security as royals.

Prince Harry home office security issue Queen Elizabeth II secret letter
© Karwai Tang/ Getty_Images
Prince Harry home office security issue Queen Elizabeth II secret letter

Ever since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have stepped down from their position as senior royals, the issue of their security is one of the most talked about topics of the royal household. The Sussex couple wanted to still get the same level of security as they had before even after stepping down from their position as senior royals.

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Prince Harry first took legal action against the home office in 2020 over a decision that he should receive a different degree of protection. It has been reported that the royal even offered to pay for his own protection.

However, in February this year, the High Court ruled that the decision was lawful and dismissed Harry's case - a decision that could impact Prince Archie and Princess Lillibet.

Late Queen’s secret letter that highlighted the importance of ‘effective security’ for the Sussex couple

Over the years, the Sussex couple have claimed that they were cut off by the Royal Family after they were forced to leave Britain. The narrative has been challenged as a secret letter written by the late Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young confirms that it was ‘imperative’ for the Queen that her grandson and his wife kept ‘effective’ security after stepping down as senior working royals.

According to The Telegraph, Sir Edward Young wrote a letter to Sir Mark Sedwill, the then Cabinet Secretary, to explain what the late Queen and Prince Harry had decided. It was written after the Sandringham Summit of January 2020. The letter was submitted to the High Court in December 2023, as part of evidence to reach the truth of whether and when the Duke made an offer to pay for his own security - something that even made visiting Queen Elizabeth a little challenging for him.

The need for evidence came in place as Ravec, Royal and VIP Executive Committee, that rules on security matters claimed they received no such offer from Prince Harry to pay for his own security. The decision to downgrade the Sussex couple’s security was taken by Ravec in 2020 as they have been delegated the responsibility to overlook the protection of Royal Family members by the Home Office.

The ongoing security case is one of the main reasons why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are not considering moving to the UK as taxpayers will not be paying for their security as non-working Royals. Read more about it here.

What was written in the secret letter by Sir Edward - the late Queen’s private secretary?

The letter reported the details of what was agreed at the Sandringham Summit. Considering that despite not being a part of working Royal members, Prince Harry and Meghan would ‘still attract public attention’ while visiting the UK. Sir Edward wrote:

During their time in the UK, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex expect to attend public-facing engagements representing the charities and causes which remain dear to them.
These engagements would no longer be formally undertaken on behalf of Her Majesty but, given the profile of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, we would expect they would still attract public attention…

He added that apart from their patronages, Her Majesty ‘may from time to time invite the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to attend national royal occasions in their private capacity.’ As such, the issue of their security is of ‘paramount importance’ to the Royals. Sir Edward’s letter read:

You will understand well that ensuring that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain safe is of paramount importance to Her Majesty and her family.
Given 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 well-documented history of targeting of the Sussex family by extremists, it is imperative that the family continues to be provided with effective security.

The letter also touched on the ‘tragic incidents of the past,’ in other words, the brutal death of Princess Diana in a paparazzi car chase that makes the Sussex couple’s security even more important. The letter said:

And, of course, the family is mindful of tragic incidents of the past. The discussions to date, including with [the former chairman of Ravec], have been useful in making sure that the parameters of the Ravec process are well understood.
Of course, Her Majesty and her family recognise that these are independent processes and decisions about the provision of publicly funded security are for the UK Government, the government of Canada and any other host government.

Meanwhile, the Duke has historically not been fond of Sir Edward. In his autobiography, Spare, he nicknamed him ‘The Bee’ and described him as ‘oval-faced and fuzzy and tended to glide around with great equanimity and poise, as if he was a boon to all living things.’ When Prince Harry realised that Sir Edward had taken a seat on the Ravec committee and was involved in the discussion related to his security, he was not pleased. The Duke argued that Sir Edward shouldn’t have been involved in the security-related decision-making due to ‘significant tensions’ between them.

Prince Harry’s security in the UK update

After February 2024’s verdict that Ravec’s decision to take away their security was ‘lawful’ and dismissal of his case, he has now been given permission to challenge that ruling in a higher court. In a judgement this February, retired High Court judge Sir Peter Lane rejected the Duke's case and concluded Ravec's approach was not irrational nor procedurally unfair, writes BBC.

After the ruling, a spokesperson for Prince Harry said that the Royal intended to appeal. The said:

The duke is not asking for preferential treatment, but for a fair and lawful application of Ravec’s own rules, ensuring that he receives the same consideration as others in accordance with Ravec’s own written policy.

The Duke has been given the green light to challenge Sir Peter's dismissal at the Court of Appeal. The order was given by Lord Justice Bean dated May 23. According to The Express, the Court of Appeal said in April that it would hear ‘his challenge following a direct application from his lawyers.’

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Sources Used

The Telegraph: Late Queen wanted Prince Harry’s security to continue, letter reveals

BBC: Prince Harry can appeal against UK security ruling

The Express: Late Queen's secret letter that revealed how she felt about Prince Harry's UK security

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s UK security arrangements revealed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s UK security arrangements revealed