Mon, 27 May 2024

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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Emily Thornberry says taxpayers should continue to foot bill for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

3 min read

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should continue to have their security costs met by the British taxpayer, Emily Thornberry has said.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary and Labour leadership contender said protection for the Royal couple should continue to be provided by the British government even if they were to move away to another country.

It comes after an announcement from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that they intended to step down as "senior" Royals and work towards becoming "financially independent".

Their plans, which could see them spending a significant amount of time in Canada, have raised concerns among campaigners who have urged the couple not to pass the burden on to Candian taxpayers. 

But Ms Thornberry, who is also running for the Labour leadership, said Prince Harry's "great service" as an army helicopter pilot should guarantee his family's security is paid for by the UK.

"I think the British taxpayer should pay for the security of Harry and Meghan and their family, as they do with former ministers," she told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme.

"Listen, Harry spent 20 years on the frontline in Afghanistan, through many tours of duty. He has done great service, just on the basis of that. And I just hate to think what he must be thinking now, having used his instinct to try and defend this country and now he has his much loved wife and baby, under the type of media scrutiny they are suffering. 

She added: "Just look at the papers today, 17-18 pages. He, as a man, must be really wanting to defend them and I understand that completely.

"And I also understand that a young couple really ought to be allowed to make their own decisions about what their future should be, and if they decide they want to go to Canada then of course they should always be protected."

The debate over the protection of the Royal couple comes amid a Whitehall spending review being undertaken by Home Secretary Priti Patel and security minister Brandon Lewis into the number of people receiving protection from police and security forces.

Security for the Royal couple is estimated to cost between £600,000 to £1m each year, but could rise sharply if they choose to move away from their home in the already heavily-protected Windsor.

But asked about arrangements following the announcement, Mr Lewis told the programme: "To comment on the security of any individuals puts at risk, not just the individuals, but also the people who do their security."

He added: "We have never commented on the money and how the money is spent, and what we spend on security for individuals, the Royal Family or other protected individuals... and I'm afraid I am not going to start that this morning."

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