Buckingham Palace is refusing to discuss the new arrangements for ensuring the Sussexes’ safety – both in Britain and in Canada where they plan to spend the majority of their time. But the Queen’s historic statement announcing Harry and Meghan’s exit from Royal duties includes the line: “There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly funded security.” It clearly means British taxpayers are expected to foot the bill – even though the couple plan to cash in on their global fame with a commerical deals worth millions.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had hinted his country would pay half the cost but was forced to withdraw the offer after a backlash from his taxpayers.
Questions are now being asked as to why Britain should pick up the bill when Harry and Meghan will not have their main residence in the UK or carry out official duties.
Most security experts agree the couple must retain a team of between eight and ten close protection officers from the Metropolitan Police.
It would include two officers each for Harry, Meghan and their baby Archie. Up to four more would need to be in reserve to cover holiday, sickness and absence for training and foreign trips.
Each of these visits is preceded by a reconnaissance mission to assess threats and escape routes.
A Canadian security expert – the former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer Chris Mathers, has estimated that the cost of guarding the Sussexes will be £5.9million a year for his country alone.
Meanwhile David McClure, an expert on the Royal Family’s wealth, said he was sure taxpayers in Britain would have to pick up at least some of the bill.
He explained: “It’s the elephant in the room, the cost of security for the Royal Family. It’s enormous.
“I think (Harry and Meghan) will probably have to do some sort of deal. I think the bill will be too big for Harry to pay it himself.”
Experts say it would be unthinkable for the couple to rely on cheaper, private security firms.
One former senior Royalty Protection officer insisted: “Private security guards, however experienced and well-trained, would not be up to the job.
“They are not even licensed to carry firearms in this country.
“It has to be Metropolitan Police officers – and that means the British taxpayer picks up the bill.”
Ken Wharfe, who guarded Prince Harry’s mother Diana, also said it would be “highly dangerous” to allow private bodyguards.
They lack the training and access to confidential information from MI5 and MI6 as well as foreign security agencies, he explained.
Royalty Protection officers are regarded as among the best bodyguards in the world.
They are expert marksmen and women who have have forged close links with the SAS and attend regular training at the crack unit’s headquarters in Hereford. These sessions are believed to cover tactics to thwart kidnap attempts and escape from hostage situations.
It is thought the Sussexes are under extra-special threat because of Harry’s time in the Army in Afghanistan.
It is feared his two tours of duty along with his status as the son of a future king would make him and his wife and their son prime targets for Islamic extremists.
Meanwhile Meghan has been the target of online abuse from racists and there are concerns she could be attacked if left unprotected.
There are also potential issues with Royal Family stalkers.
Intelligence on them comes from the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre – a joint Metropolitan Police/NHS unit that is not accessible to private firms.
There will also be massive costs involved in making the Sussexes’ future home secure.
Meghan and Archie are currently staying in Canada in an £11million mansion on Vancouver Island, while Harry finalises arrangements in the UK. It is not known where they will settle but it will most likely be Vancouver or Toronto.
Their new property will need the latest alarms, cameras and movement sensors, which need to be replaced as technology evolves. A security command centre will also have to be built, including accommodation for the bodyguards.
One security expert said: “The start-up costs could be huge.”
If Harry and Meghan are forced to reduce their security, they wouldn’t be the first in the family.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s detail has been cut back since he retired.
And Prince Andrew is under threat of losing his taxpayer-funded police bodyguards after stepping back from official duties.
His daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, now rely on former officers paid for by their disgraced dad.