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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may hold up inside Frogmore Cottage over the bank holiday and only leave to attend two Platinum Jubilee events because they are being denied VIP 24/7 armed protection from British police, experts told MailOnline today.
The Sussexes and their two young children are expected to land in the UK on Wednesday just months after Harry claimed he was ‘unable to return home’ because is too dangerous.
But after a secret visit to see the Queen at Windsor Castle in late April, the sixth in the line to the throne has received ‘cast iron assurances’ that he, Meghan, Archie and Lilibet will be protected during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations that begin tomorrow and end on Sunday. It is only the second time Meghan has returned to the UK after they sensationally quit their royal roles in 2020.
Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer, told MailOnline today that Harry would have no way of influencing the decision made by MI5, the Home Office and the Foreign Office, even if he put pressure on his grandmother to intervene. As a result they may be forced to keep a ‘low profile’ during their stay and not organise their own events.
Mr Morgan, who now runs the security business Trojan Consultancy, said: ‘If they are staying at Frogmore Cottage they are going to be extremely secure there and that may be why they are not doing anything away from the main Platinum Jubilee events because they will not have protection for that’.
The couple are expected to attend the Service of Thanksgiving with the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday morning – as well as the BBC’s Party at the Palace the following evening. Simon Morgan expects they will be given armed protection at these events, and on the journey to and from Windsor due to the security operation planned for the jubilee.
‘The jubilee is one of the highest risk events for years – and the Met have a duty of care to protect those attending, especially the royal family and foreign dignitaries’, Mr Morgan said.
British officers will stand guard at Frogmore Cottage, where they will be protected 24/7. But this will not extend to private events such as socialising with friends at restaurants and pubs or going to the shops off the Queen’s Windsor Castle estate.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are thought to be travelling without any senior staff and just a small security team, having left their most trusted workers back home in California, according to people with knowledge of their travel plans.
Their bodyguards, which have included those responsible for the security of Barack Obama and Michael Jackson, will not be able to carry guns in the UK and the Metropolitan Police will have primacy on security matters as soon as they step off the plane.
Harry and Meghan pictured together at a volleyball event during the Invictus Games at Zuiderpark in April
In April the couple employed Christopher Sanchez, a burly former bodyguard to President Obama, pictured with grey hair behind the duchess who kept an eye on them at Invictus
The Sussexes are expected to stay at Frogmore Cottage, where they will hold a small party for Lilibet that may be attended by the Queen
The Met’s Royalty and Specialist Protection unit is understood to have spent weeks liaising with Harry’s team to guarantee taxpayer-funded officers look after them as much as is allowed, The Mirror reports.
Lilibet will turn one on Saturday, with a party expected at Frogmore likely to be attended by royals such as Princess Eugenie, who is close to the Harry and Meghan, and the Queen could also pop in if she doesn’t attend the Epsom Derby. It will be the first time the monarch will meet the great-granddaughter named after her.
But Prince William and Kate will not be there because they will be representing Her Majesty in Cardiff as senior working royals are sent to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to mark the monarch’s 70 years on the throne.
Harry and Meghan are expected to attend the Service of Thanksgiving with the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday morning – as well as the BBC’s Party at the Palace the following evening, the report claimed.
But the sources added that the Sussexes will not conduct their own programme of events while in Britain to avoid overshadowing the four-day weekend of celebrations for the 70-year reign of Harry’s 96-year-old grandmother.
This suggests that they may stay in the grounds of Windsor Castle, where they will be protected by armed police at all times. But this will not extend to while they are out at private events such as socialising with friends at restaurants and pubs or going to the shops.
The UK’s stance is in contrast with the couple’s treatment at the Invictus Games in Holland in April, where they were afford VVIP status.
A former US presidential secret service agent was assigned to lead close protection for the couple and armed protection officers who usually guard the King of the Netherlands provided security outside of the venue. A Land Rover with two other private security guards drove with Harry and Meghan’s vehicle, with an unmarked car containing two members of the Dutch Royal protection squad.
Security experts including Mr Morgan said at the time they ‘couldn’t fathom’ why Harry felt safe in Holland but not in the UK.
Harry, 37, is taking legal action against the Home Office after being stripped of permanent police protection after quitting as a frontline royal.
Harry has since claimed he does not feel safe under these security arrangements when bringing his family to the UK and was ‘unable to return home’ over fears it is too dangerous. He had even offered to pay for British police bodyguards himself – but the Met said that their officers cannot be paid for.
Harry and Meghan pictured with son Archie, three, and daughter Lilibet, who will turn one this weekend
Prince Harry is taking legal action against the Government over its decision to remove his security (above, Harry and Meghan with bodyguards in New Zealand in 2018)
Police officers patrol Windsor ahead of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018
Sources told The Mirror that he has always been ‘in favour’ of returning to the UK for the Queen’s celebrations, despite the Met insisting its officers are not ‘guns for hire’.
At their US home, Harry and Meghan are protected by a 24-hour security team, including 12 former special forces personnel.
A source said: ‘For Harry, this has always been about protecting his family.
‘He has been in constant contact with the relevant parties and made it very clear that he wouldn’t travel without receiving cast iron assurances over the safety of his family.
‘He is satisfied the right procedures are in place and they are all very much looking forward to this week’s celebrations and of course getting to spend time with Her Majesty.’
It comes after the couple met the monarch in a brief secret meeting with Prince Charles before they flew out to the Invictus Games in the Netherlands earlier this month.
At the meeting, Harry and Meghan promised they would introduce the Queen to Lilibet, who is named after her.
With the Queen expected to pace herself over the four-day bank holiday weekend, extended so the nation can celebrate the jubilee, there is speculation she will not travel to Epsom racecourse for the Derby on Saturday as she does not have a runner, although another of her thoroughbreds is entered in a race.
The Duke and feriewnd Nacho Figueras played their last polo game in Santa Barbara on Sunday before Prince Harry heads to London with his family to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee
The day could be the perfect opportunity for the royal family to gather to celebrate the christening of Lilibet at Windsor Castle on the child’s first birthday.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment on the reports and said: ‘Frogmore Cottage remains the UK home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’
The Mail revealed on Saturday that the Queen is set to spend time with the family on Saturday to celebrate Lilibet’s birthday.
She has never met her great-granddaughter and not seen Archie in person since he was a baby and taken by his parents to Canada and then the US.
There has also been speculation that the couple may try to get Lilibet christened while they are here in the private chapel at Windsor Castle, where Archie was also christened in 2019.
And earlier this week, he shared a post praising the Duke on Instagram, writing: ‘What a joy to see you smile and be so happy. I love being your teammate.’