Controversy Around Security for Prince Harry and Megan Markle.

Controversy Around Security for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are often in the news. Beyond the Netflix documentary, bestselling book, and pending lawsuits lies the question of how to ensure the security of this ultra famous couple and their children, Archie and Lilibet. Now that the family has become publicly enmeshed in a feud with the British royal family, how will they keep their family safe in person and online?

On May 16, this question became especially relevant when the Sussexes were chased by photographers after leaving the Women of Vision Awards at New York City’s Ziegfeld Ballroom. Although no one was injured, Chris Sanchez, a Sussex employee in charge of security, said they had been “in jeopardy.” He believed the situation “could have been fatal” due to the erratic behavior of the paparazzi. 

This was not an isolated event. One day earlier, Kevin Garcia Valdovinos was arrested for stalking the family at their $14.7 million dollar mansion in California. The couple’s security team performed a citizen’s arrest before Valdovinos was booked by police and later released on $2,500 bail. These close calls are notable because the couple has long maintained they left the UK in part to ensure better security for their family. Their decision to leave royal duties meant their security was no longer covered by British taxpayers. Due to British law, paying for their own security while in Britain presents a complex bureaucratic issue.

Since early 2022, Prince Harry has filed multiple lawsuits against the UK Home Office over the removal of police protection. He claims the security situation in Britain is so serious that it is not safe for his family to return without police officers to protect them. It is likely he will lose one of the two lawsuits attempting to reinstate the funding, so he would pay around $10,000. The lawsuit over the decision to remove his police protection in the first place is ongoing.

As this began to be played out in court, Harry and Meghan chose the US as their home. In recent months, swarms of paparazzi have sought out the couple on hikes, in cars and at events, increasing the danger stateside. Dai Davies, a former head of royal protection for the Metropolitan Police believes the couple is more at risk in America than in Britain due to the prevalence of guns.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex personally fund a private security team for their family. Although it is unknown how much they spend, estimates to provide protection for such a high-profile family start at $1 million a year. A few experts speculate that the range may be from $6 million if the couple maintains a relatively low profile, but as high as $28 million if they live a jet-setting lifestyle.

Their security team has an especially complex task as physical security is needed in a variety of high-profile settings. For example, Harry recently attended the Coronation of King Charles. Had Meghan and the children attended, it is likely that they would have required a large staff for advanced security work as well as multiple staff members to provide round-the-clock protection. A record 11,500 police were on guard for the Coronation, one of the biggest security operations in British history. Meghan and Harry have become contentious figures in England and would have required added layers of security protection beyond that.

Protection for the Sussex family goes beyond physical threats from the public. Harry and Meghan have become the targets of rampant online bullying, with an active Reddit page dedicated to destroying Meghan’s reputation. Experts are needed to monitor threats against them, seeking out would-be disruptors and understanding negative sentiment trends that could lead to tragedy. For high-profile individuals on the level of the Sussexes, comprehensive support is needed to monitor social media, open-source chatter, deep web, and dark web. 

Threat analysts supported by an array of AI web intel platforms, like the ones provided by Interfor for high-profile clients, are also necessary to ensure a comprehensive and customized layer of security.

As Prince Harry said in his recent Netflix documentary: “Paparazzi still harass people but harassment really exists more online now. Once the photographs are out and the story’s are put next to it, then comes the social media harassment. To see another woman in my life who I love go through this feeding frenzy, that’s hard. Because it is basically the hunter vs. the prey.”

With a detailed security plan, encompassing physical safety and online threat monitoring, individuals like Harry and Meghan can not only prevent a tragic outcome but also enjoy an active life while fully protected.