The public is likely to face an “enormous bill” for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s future security, a former Home Office minister has warned.
Ex-Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker suggested the fact Harry will not use but will still retain his HRH style was a way of ensuring he could qualify for paid security, unlike Diana, Princess of Wales, who was stripped of her HRH style and police protection.
Buckingham Palace is not commenting on whether taxpayers will still have to pay for Harry, Meghan and baby Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s round-the-clock guards.
Mr Baker, the author of a book about royal family finances entitled And What Do You Do?, said the family’s new life in North America would cause costs to escalate.
“We’re going to end up from the public purse paying more for Harry and Meghan than we do now because the security costs are going to go through the roof,” he said.
“It’s not just the cost of Harry and Meghan’s security, but it’s also the cost of flying police officers out of Scotland Yard, over on transatlantic planes to and from Canada on shifts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“It’s an enormous bill.”
Security for the royal family as a whole costs the taxpayer in excess of an estimated £100 million a year, but the actual figure is never disclosed.
Harry and Meghan will earn their own money when they step back fully from royal life.
They had initially hoped for a dual role, supporting the Queen, the Commonwealth and Harry’s military associations as well, but the idea was fraught with problems and in the end unworkable.
The Prince of Wales will offer some private financial support to Harry and Meghan but it is not known if this will come from his £21 million a year Duchy of Cornwall income or other private funds.
Mr Baker claimed the taxpayer could lose out if Charles uses his Duchy income, if there was a reduction in his tax liability.
He told the PA news agency: “It depends how he supports them. If he wants to support them from genuinely his own money, that’s fine.
“However, I suspect based on previous behaviour, he won’t do that, he’ll support them through the Duchy of Cornwall.
“What he will then do, based on previous experience, is claim that as a legitimate expense and he will use that to reduce his tax liability and therefore the public purse will continue to support Harry indirectly.”
Sources insisted, however, that the prince will not be attempting to offset any contributions against tax, and that he would pay all relevant tax.
He voluntarily pays income tax at the 45% rate on his income from the Duchy of Cornwall, after his business-related costs are deducted, and his taxes are checked by HMRC.
Mr Baker argued that the Duchy, the landed estate set up in 1337 by Edward III to provide an income for heirs to the throne, should be subject to corporation tax, and called for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to look into the Duchy’s finances.
“There’s a need for a drastic look at royal finances and that’s the body that should be doing it,” he added.
The Duchy of Cornwall’s website says it is not a corporation and therefore not subject to corporation tax.
Mr Baker said the PAC would also be able to investigate whether Harry and Meghan, who will start paying commercial rent on their UK base Frogmore Cottage, will be charged at the correct level.
Rents on Frogmore Cottage – a newly renovated four-bedroom property with a nursery in Windsor’s Home Park – could be around £5,000 a month as it could not be let commercially for security reasons.
But other estimates have suggested the home would fetch up to £30,000 a month.
Harry and Meghan have also said they will pay the running costs, and repay the renovation bill of £2.4 million, which is likely to rise when the bill for additional work not completed by the time of last year’s accounts is added.
Frogmore Cottage is likely to remain shuttered for most of the year as the Sussex family make a new life in North America.