In Oprah’s recent tell-all interview of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle discussion included the royal couple’s security detail. According to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they were abruptly informed their security would be cut off in early 2020, when the couple was in Vancouver and in the process of negotiating terms of their exit as senior royals.
Why Did Harry and Meghan Lose Security Privileges?
When Harry and Meghan arrived in Vancouver in 2019, they were accompanied by a small taskforce from the Metropolitan Police of London. Photos showed Canadian Mounties pitching in with protection, which sparked an outcry from Canadians who thought their taxes should not fund security of the British royal couple.
They were, however, entitled to both British and Canadian protection when they first came to Vancouver Island as Internationally Protected Persons (IPP), a status members of the Queen’s immediate family retain and which entitles them to state-sponsored protection almost anywhere in the world.
Security costs for British royals as IPPs are among the few expenses totally funded by taxpayers. Queen Elizabeth pays for her car, dresses, and vacations, but security is provided by British taxpayer funds. When she travels abroad for state visits, foreign governments cover the costs.
In January 2020, when Harry and Meghan announced their resignations as senior royals to lead more private lives, they effectively terminated their IPP status. Harry tried to persuade the powers-that-be otherwise. “Is there a change in threat or risk?” he asked. While the risk was the same, relinquishing IPP status meant the state could no longer pay for their security. The Queen would have faced significant diplomatic repercussions if Harry and Meghan were allowed to retain IPP status after stepping back from their duties.
The Road to Financial Independence
Following the couple’s announcement, they were no longer entitled to British or Canadian security in March 2020. Meghan recalled realizing that they were very much alone in Canada, without security, and with their location well-known to anyone who might wish them harm. She knew they needed to leave.
At that point, Tyler Perry offered them his $18 million mansion in Beverly Hills, CA and use of his security detail, which they gratefully accepted. When then-president Donald Trump tweeted that the US would not foot the bill regarding their security, the royals tweeted they didn’t need it.
Still, the situation was unsettling. Harry and Meghan had never had to pay for security, and they had not yet struck deals with Netflix and Spotify that made them financially independent. Their financial future was uncertain, but they still continued to receive threats and racist propaganda from people not happy with the marriage. Tyler Perry helped them until the deals were signed, when they started paying for their security.
How Much Does Security for a Royal Family Cost?
Harry and Meghan have had rough going as part of the royal family, but it is easy to understand why no one is jumping to foot their security. Estimates about the cost to provide protection for such a high-profile family start at $1 million a year. Other estimates range from $6 million if the couple maintains a relatively low profile, but as high as $28 million if they live a jet-setting lifestyle.
Whatever the actual cost, now that Harry and Meghan have set themselves up with various streams of income, they can rest more easily. Regardless of losing IPP status, they are not willing to compromise their security, certainly not with little Archie and another baby on the way.