Prince Harry and Meghan faced 'very real' threats while living in the U.K., former top police official says

Kirsty O'Connor

LONDON — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle faced "very real" threats to their safety, including threats emanating from the far right, while they were in the U.K., an outgoing top British police official has said.

Neil Basu, the outgoing assistant commissioner of specialist operations at Scotland Yard, told the U.K.'s Channel 4 that he had investigated a number of "disgusting and very real" threats against the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

He said at least some of the threats emanated from the far right.

"I've talked publicly for many years about the threat of extreme right-wing terrorism in this country," when he was asked about the threats in the interview, which aired Tuesday.

“If you’d seen the stuff that was written and you were receiving it, the kind of rhetoric that’s online ... you would feel under threat all of the time,” said Basu, the former head of counterterrorism, who was in charge of royal protection before the Sussexes left the U.K.

Asked whether there had been a genuine threat to Meghan's life on more than one occasion, Basu replied: “We had teams investigating it. People have been prosecuted for those threats.”

Representatives for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Harry and Meghan moved to Los Angeles in 2020 after having spent time in Canada.

They announced in January 2020 that they would take a “step back” as senior members of the royal family. At the time, they said they planned to divide their time between the U.K. and North America.

Prince Harry won the right in July to challenge the status of security arrangements that were put in place in the U.K. after he and Meghan decided to step back from their royal roles.

A legal representative previously said Harry had wanted to bring his two children, Archie and Lilibet, to the U.K. so they could “know his home country” but said it was too risky without proper police protection.

The statement said that Harry wanted to pay for police protection himself, rather than make British taxpayers foot the bill, but that he was unable to do so unless Britain's Home Office allowed it.

It further said Harry's security had been “compromised due to the absence of police protection” during a visit to the U.K. to unveil a statue in honor of his late mother, Princess Diana.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex personally fund a private security team for their family, yet that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the U.K.,” the statement said.

“In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home,” it said.

The statement said Harry “inherited a security risk at birth” and asserted that his family has been subjected to “well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats."

Meghan has also been vocal about how racism has affected her mental health, career and relationships.

In March 2021, Meghan and Harry told Oprah Winfrey in a tell-all interview that royal insiders had expressed “concerns” about how dark their children’s skin might be. The couple declined to name the person; Winfrey said later that Harry had made it clear that it was neither Queen Elizabeth II, his grandmother, nor her husband, Prince Philip.

The couple also slammed parts of the British media for what they said was a torrent of racist abuse toward Meghan, whose mother is Black. The interview sparked sometimes heated debates on social media and television about the role racism played in the couple’s exit.

Buckingham Palace said later in a statement addressing the interview that the family were “saddened” to learn the extent of the challenges faced by the couple.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning,” the statement said. “While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com