Why the US would never have been asked to pay for Harry and Meghan's security

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
Harry and Meghan said they would pay for their own security. (Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been forced to reveal an element of their security plans after it emerged they relocated to Los Angeles at the eleventh hour.

Harry and Meghan are reported to have used a private jet to get to California from Vancouver Island, where they had been living since before Christmas, as the border between the countries closed to combat the spread of coronavirus.

On Sunday evening, US president Donald Trump launched a Twitter tirade against the royal couple, telling them America would not pay for their security.

It’s likely he wanted to set the record straight because Canada had been paying towards the couple’s security.

But there’s a key difference between the US and Canada which explains why - Canada is a commonwealth country.

Therefore as part of the Commonwealth, Canada recognises the Queen as head of state.

That means they have certain obligations which the US does not because the duke and duchess are “internationally protected persons”.

The couple previously did not divulge security details. (Getty Images)

Read more: Why living in California could appeal to Prince Harry and Meghan

In the middle of a global pandemic, Trump tweeted: “It was reported that Harry and Meghan, who left the Kingdom, would reside permanently in Canada.

“Now they have left Canada for the U.S. however, the U.S. will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”

The tweet forced Harry and Meghan’s hand to be drawn on something they had previously refused to comment on.

A spokeswoman for the couple said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have no plans to ask the US government for security resources.

“Privately-funded security arrangements have been made.”

Prince Harry and Meghan were reported to be living here while they were in Canada. (Getty Images)

Despite obligations as part of the Commonwealth, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had already announced they would not pay for the couple’s security after 31 March.

The RCMP had been asked by the Metropolitan Police to help on an as-needed basis, but they decided not to continue that one the couple were not senior royals.

The Sussexes’ statement comes as the couple get their last payslip as senior royals, and prepare to stop their public duties.

Read more: 'LA paparazzi don't play by the rules': Harry and Meghan warned they will be 'fair game' in California

Meghan’s first piece of work outside the Royal Family has already been confirmed - the narration for a Disneynature documentary about a family of elephants.

But she did not receive payment for the work, which is thought to have been carried out in London last autumn, and Disney will make a donation to Elephants Without Borders in lieu.

As senior royals, Harry and Meghan received the majority of the funding for their public duties, and some of their private costs, from the Prince of Wales, who paid the expenses out of the multimillion-pound income from his private Duchy of Cornwall estate.

Read more: 'Thank you, Meghan': Charity pays tribute to Duchess of Sussex for new film

It is thought Charles will continue to offer some financial assistance to his son and daughter-in-law.

However what extent of this new security arrangement is privately funded and what portion is still at UK taxpayer expense is not yet clear.

The bill for protecting the Royal Family is reported to cost the UK about £100 million a year.

But the protection only applies to more senior members - with people like Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie only getting cover at events, not in their everyday life.

Read more: We've seen Meghan Markle's Disney+ documentary: Everything you need to know about 'Elephant'

Although the Sussexes arrived in California while the state was in lockdown to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, it’s likely there will still be announcements about their future this week.

The couple has agreed not to use the word royal because of the copyright issues in the UK. It means big changes for their branding which will have to take effect from 1 April, which is Wednesday.