Harry and Meghan will ‘NOT be given an audience with Netherlands King Willem-Alexander or be offered a room in the royal palace’ on Invictus Games visit but could be handed ‘VIP status’ by Dutch police
- Meghan Markle to make first official trip outside US since quitting royal family with four days in Holland
- She will join husband Harry at the Invictus Games in The Hague – just a ‘short hop’ from London by plane
- But couple ‘will not be offered a room in the royal palace, nor be given audience with King Willem-Alexander’
- Couple will be followed by a Netflix crew for their Archewell Productions project with ‘big surprise’ promised
- Security experts say they are baffled that Sussexes believe the UK is more unsafe than the Netherlands
- Former royal protection officers point out that Invictus’ military links would make it a greater terror target
Harry and Meghan will ‘not be given an audience with Netherlands King Willem-Alexander or be offered a room in the royal palace’ during their Invictus Games visit, but could be handed ‘VIP status’ by Dutch police.
The couple may have to be secured by their own team when they attend the event later this week in what will be Meghan’s first trip to Europe since they quit as senior working royals more than two years ago.
It is understood Harry and Meghan will not get an audience with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima during their stay and will have to instead spend the night at a hotel in The Hague.
Traditionally, the Dutch royal family hosts stays of foreign royals, but a spokesperson has confirmed no such olive branch will be extended to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
It is not known whether Harry will visit the UK and see the Queen while he is on this side of the Atlantic for the event – running from April 16 to April 22.
It comes after Harry was absent from the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service in London last month amid a claim against the Home Office after being told he would no longer be given the same degree of personal protective security when visiting from the US, despite offering to pay for it himself.
The duke wants to bring his children to visit the UK, but he has said the family is ‘unable to return home’ because it is too dangerous, a legal representative claimed.
But Dai Davies, a former head of royal protection at Scotland Yard, said the idea that Harry is unable to come to the UK due to safety concerns is ‘sheer unadulterated nonsense’, adding that the duke is ‘not an expert in security’.
Asked if the UK is an unsafe location for Harry, Mr Davies said: ‘No I wouldn’t. He would get the same risk assessment as every other royal.
‘Most of them now don’t get full-time protection or even half-time protection, so the truth is the UK is far safer than most other places. And with great respect, Harry is not an expert in security.’
Meghan’s attendance at the event, for the first few days, was confirmed by a spokesperson for the couple on Monday.
Harry and Meghan are heading to Holland and may get royal protection from the Queen’s cousin King Willem
King Willem-Alexander (4th R) and Princess Margriet (4th L) greet Dutch paralympic athletes at Noordeinde Palace as they returned from Beijing. Both will attend Invictus in the Hague
Prince Harry and his family declined to attend Prince Philip’s memorial service with the Queen amid a legal row over the security they would get.
Prince Charles and Camilla will carry out an official tour of Canada as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Clarence House confirmed the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit in May and meet communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s Capital Region, and the Northwest Territories.
Canada is the overseas country most visited by Her Majesty, having toured the nation 22 times in an official capacity. Charles, 73, has travelled to the country 18 times.
The Prince Of Walkes first visited in 1970 with Her Majesty and his late father Prince Philip and in 1991 toured Canada with Princess Diana and their sons Prince William and Prince Harry.
Camilla, 74, has visited on four occasions, most recently in 2017 when the couple met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie to mark the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
Mr Trudeau said in a statement: ‘This spring, Canada will have the pleasure of welcoming Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to Newfoundland and Labrador, the National Capital Region, and the Northwest Territories.
During their visit, they will have the wonderful opportunity of seeing first-hand the diversity and kindness of Canadians and the beauty of our abundant natural landscapes that make us proud to call our country home.
‘This year, Canadians and people across the Commonwealth are celebrating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, which marks the 70th anniversary of her accession to the Throne.
Speaking about the security arrangements likely to be in place in the Netherlands, Mr Davies continued: ‘The truth is I have no doubt that he will be protected, whether he takes his own team or whether the Dutch authorities give him some kind of VIP status.
‘The truth is, if there’s a risk both countries – ours and the Netherlands – have sophisticated systems of determining risk.
‘This country has determined he is no longer at risk. That may or may not be true, but people far better qualified than I am now can make that decision and they never make it lightly.’
It comes after it emerged Meghan and Harry may ask to ‘hitch a ride’ with the Dutch royals to get armed police bodyguards to and from the Invictus Games despite snubbing the same set up in the UK at Prince Philip’s memorial service, experts told MailOnline today.
The Sussexes are likely to be given full protection by the Dutch police as the event will also play host to the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander and his aunt Princess Margriet, honorary chair of the Recommendation Committee of the Invictus Games.
The Duchess of Sussex will join her husband in The Hague for four days despite security experts warning the sports event ‘ticks boxes’ for terrorists because of its military links and the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans attending including the Duke of Sussex himself.
The trip will mark the couple’s first visit to Europe together since they left the Royal Family – just weeks after they snubbed Prince Philip’s memorial service after the Duke of Sussex said he didn’t feel safe in Britain. But former royal protection officers say they would have had the same protection as any royal at Westminster Abbey.
Former MP Norman Baker, who is a critic of royal spending and secrecy, said: ‘It looks petulant. It seems they have Dutch courage but not the British variety’.
Moniek Bloks, a Dutch royal biographer and Assistant Editor at Royal Central, told MailOnline that she believes Harry or his team are likely to ask the Queen’s distant cousin King Willem for armed security. She said: ‘Since members of the Dutch royal family will be attending both the opening and closing ceremony, they might be able to “hitch a ride” with them on those days’.
But Harry and Meghan will not get the same security away from Invictus because they ‘are visiting in a private capacity’, she said, which is what was reportedly offered to Harry in the UK but he rejected for his family claiming it was unsafe for them in Britain.
A key difference between Invictus Games and the service of remembrance in London is that a Netflix crew will be with them in The Hague – as part of the couple’s rumoured $100million deal – but wouldn’t have been allowed to join them at Westminster Abbey.
Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer, told MailOnline today he ‘cannot fathom’ how the Sussexes could feel more safe in Holland.
Mr Morgan, who now runs the security business Trojan Consultancy, said: ‘The Sussexes are attending an international event with veterans, many of whom were injured fighting the Taliban. Harry himself served in Afghanistan and he is the Queen’s grandson.
‘The Dutch will consider the security threat as high, because for an extremist Invictus ticks a lot of boxes as a target for a spectacular attack. It is hard to fathom why Harry and Meghan would consider this less of a risk than going to Prince Philip’s memorial service’.
Mr Morgan said Harry may be relying on the Dutch rolling over and giving him the full time royal protection he is demanding in the UK.
He said the UK government’s lawyers will be watching very carefully what happens in Holland as it could strengthen their case if Harry accepts royal protection at the Invictus venues but private security outside the ring of steel.
‘The Dutch have primacy over security. They could decide that the risks are so great that Harry and Meghan must have full royal protection’.
The Sussexes were noticeably absent from Prince Philip’s memorial service last week amid rows between Harry and the Home Office over personal protection during visits from their home in California.
Former Met Inspector Ken Wharfe, who was protection officer for Princess Diana, Prince William and Harry, questioned why the royal would feel any safer in the Netherlands than the UK.
He told MailOnline last week: ‘[Harry] would have travelled to his grandfather’s memorial service with his brother or father and received protection from the Met. It’s not like he would have been turning up at Westminster Abbey on a bike’.
He added: ‘The Dutch police will be doing their own security assessments and liaising with Harry’s private security.
‘But my view it is more of a risk to go to Holland to support a charity with a military link than coming to London last week’.
Meghan is due to fly from Los Angeles on an overnight flight and arrive with Prince Harry on Friday ahead of the opening ceremony of the games on Saturday evening.
Sources at the venue in The Hague told MailOnline Meghan will be by her husband’s side until Monday when she returns alone to their £11m home in Montecito, California.
Last night a spokesman for the pair confirmed that Meghan will be at the ‘first few days’ of the international competition. Their children – Archie, two, and ten-month-old Lilibet – are not expected to attend.
The sporting games for injured veterans, founded by Harry, will take place in The Hague. The couple made their first public appearance together at the event when it was held in Toronto in 2017.
After his grandfather died in April last year, the duke returned for the funeral. He was said to have wanted to travel to the UK for the thanksgiving service, along with his family.
But sources suggested his legal position could have been ‘undermined’ if he had travelled from the US. Harry brought a High Court claim against the Home Office after being told he would no longer get the same degree of personal security when visiting the UK, despite offering to cover the costs himself.
Invictus runs from April 16 to 22, meaning the prince could visit The Queen for her 96th birthday on the 21st. Invictus athlete Daniel O’Connor, 31, from Hereford, said Meghan would be welcomed with open arms.
‘I think she’s doing a great job. I would love to see her at the Games,’ he said.
Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Productions first announced its Heart of Invictus Netflix docu-series last April.
Their official website describes the project as ‘a multi-episode production that will spotlight a group of extraordinary Invictus Games competitors from around the globe – members of the military community who have experienced life-changing injuries or illnesses – on their road to Invictus Games.’
After being delayed by the pandemic, the next staging of the Invictus Games, an international sports competition for injured or sick military personnel and veterans from across the globe, will take place from April 16 to 22.
The High Court heard the duke did not feel safe in Britain without Scotland Yard officers with him. Harry wants to bring his children to visit from the US, but is ‘unable to return to his home’ because it is too dangerous, a legal representative previously said.
But he still plans to jet more than 5,500 miles across the world to The Hague.
The Duke of Sussex and Meghan will cross the Atlantic for The Hague shortly after refusing to be with Harry’s family at Westminster Abbey for his grandfather’s service of thanksgiving less than two weeks ago
Despite royal insiders slamming the move in the wake of Harry’s high court battle over his family’s security, the pair will be joined by a Netflix documentary crew for the six-day event. Pictured: Prince Harry speaks with Team UK before they depart for the 2022 Invictus Games
The decision for Harry to miss Prince Philip’s memorial service, particularly one which honoured his much-loved grandfather, is likely to add further tension to the strained relationship with his family
Harry is set to travel to the Netherlands for the Invictus Games and used a surprise video call to the UK team
The Duke of Sussex also joked recently he was learning Dutch and wore orange – the national colour of the Netherlands
Police and security services in the Netherlands have refused to say whether he will get royal protection in Holland, although it is likely because one of the event’s partners is the Dutch ministry of defence, which is also in charge of the country’s security and terrorism.
The duke is at the heart of an extraordinary legal wrangle over his security when coming to Britain.
He mounted a legal challenge against the Home Office having been told he would no longer be given the ‘same degree’ of personal protective security when visiting from the US, despite claiming he had offered to pay for it himself.
The Duke’s legal team claimed he wanted to return to the UK ‘to see family and friends’, adding: ‘Most of all, this is and always will be his home.’
Harry was said to have wanted to return for the thanksgiving service for Philip, and to bring his children Archie and Lilibet and wife Meghan.
Government officials are understood to have been infuriated by the royal’s legal action.
They allegedly warned him British police officers are not available for ‘personal protective security’, and that it was ‘irrelevant’ he offered to pay for them himself.
After his grandfather died in April last year, Harry did return for the funeral, leaving his then pregnant wife Meghan and son Archie behind in America.
The decision for Harry to miss such an important event last week, particularly one which honoured his much loved grandfather, is likely to add further tension to the strained relationship with his family.
When the Queen recently announced that it was her ‘sincere wish’ that Camilla would become Queen when her husband Charles is King, Harry made no publicly supportive comment to his stepmother in response to the news.
Prince Andrew controversially walked his mother down the aisle at Westminster Abbey. Pictured: He releases his mother from his arm as she walks the final steps to her seat unaided
And the Royal family is braced for further bombshells from Harry when he publishes his memoirs, which are said to have been pushed back to the end of this year.
Harry surprised Invictus Games Team UK competitors with a video call on Wednesday as members gathered for a final training camp before the event takes place in the Netherlands later this month.
The duke founded the games to aid the rehabilitation of injured or sick military personnel and veterans from across the globe, by giving them the challenge of competing in sporting events similar to the Paralympics.
The room erupted in laughter when Harry commented on the fact the competitors had had two years to prepare for the games and that therefore fitness should not be an issue.
Harry also enquired about former royal army physical training corps instructor Vic Wales, who was one of the instructing staff while he was a cadet at Sandhurst.
‘Is my PTI from Sandhurst in here somewhere?’ Harry asked, before spotting her and exclaiming: ‘There she is.’
He said: ‘I can’t believe after, how many years, 15 years, our paths are about to cross again.
‘You used to shout at me so much.’
Harry appeared to be told that he needed it, as he then said: ‘I needed it. Yeah, cool. That’s also fair enough.’
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