“Threats against a person who has protection afforded to them due to their status within a specific family are not diminished when they leave the duties of that family. They will always remain a member of that family.”
~ Richard Aitch
Much talk has been made in recent days on the response of the Harry and Meghan interview, much notably concerning the aspect of their security being stopped on their departure from Royal duties.
There remains in place specific protocol and process concerning the assessments made and budgetary approval for protection measures from seniority within the Family to the activity of their duties. This is conducted through a combination of intelligence gathering exercises conducted by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, (JTAC), a ‘five-eyes partnership’ via agreements with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Assessments are then communicated with the Royal and VIP Executive Committee (RaVEC), a committee comprising of senior civil servants and Scotland Yard Officers, members from the Royal household and discussed directly with the Security Services. Quite naturally, cost remains a major factor through that decision making and a balance is met in that subsequent provision.
The justification for financial responsibility as a burden on the UK tax payer in consideration to the protection of Harry and Meghan may appear to be a clear cut one. If their position no longer satisfies the remit of that financial responsibility then of course, that cost outlay would be stopped. The question here though, is not so much one of cost but one of threat. Opinions vary in consideration to the effect of threats against the couple now that they have departed the Monarchy with some stating that have been much reduced. As a direct consequence of threats being specific to the Royal Family and that they are no longer considered within the duties of the Family, that those same threats against them would no longer be present. One would rightly imagine that the decision to remove the couple’s protection was a quagmire. Yet, the reasoning appears to be clear cut; ‘you no longer satisfy the remit of protection afforded to you’.
As I mentioned in the blog ‘Harry and Meghan – The Security Implication’ the decision would be compounded by a ‘duty of care’ responsibility whether that would have been a conscious one – or not. After all, the repercussions in the event of severe actions untoward against the couple after the removal of such protection is a serious consideration to make. However, justification for such removal have also included reasoning of much reduced threat against them. Yet, threats against a person who has protection afforded to them due to their status within a specific family are not diminished when they leave the duties of that family. They will always remain a member of that family. Threats per se are wide ranging and the reasons for them are also. Where some threats may be reduced, through no longer participating in Royal duties and through that the attendance of certain countries and venues, other threats have increased.
The Royal Family are privileged to receive Police protection. This protection experiences the luxury that the full weight of the law provides. Access to intelligence flows from diverse agencies, control of traffic flow, the creation of secure, sterile areas, uniformed Police presence, Counter Terrorism Command, the list goes on. Compare and contrast that with the private sector where an almost complete lack of proper intelligence gathering exists, the absence of ability to control the immediate environment in terms of traffic and the general public, this list also goes on. I would not say the threats have reduced to any substantial level but that the risk to specific threats have much increased.
Security is a compromise dictated by money and party politics – whether that be within government or private sector realms. Budgets will always remain a constant and pivotal aspect of decision making. Yet, for me, the UK should have continued some input into the provision of Harry and Meghan’s security. It should remain a joint operation between the Met Police and the assisting agencies and organisations and that of the private sector provision. When one considers a worst case scenario, one does not want to consider the conversation of who decided what in the lead up.
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