Meghan and Harry's private security in LA poses many challenges, may cost up to $13 million, say bodyguard firms
Ever since Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were stepping down as senior members of the royal family of the United Kingdom, they have been in the headlines constantly.
Harry and Meghan initially said they would be moving to Canada. Canada -- which is a member of the Commonwealth -- initially agree to foot the family's security bill and take care of the arrangements. However, Canadian officials recently announced that the country would no longer fund the couple's security costs when they stopped with their royal duties at the end of March.
Earlier in March, it was revealed that Harry, Meghan and their 10-month-old son Archie had moved to Los Angeles -- where Meghan was born and raised -- and settled into a "large" home before United States and Canada closed their borders for non-essential travel due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Last week, President Donald Trump tweeted that the US would not pay for their security, writing, "I am a great friend and admirer of the Queen & the United Kingdom. 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!"
However, since then, a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan has said, "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have no plans to ask the U.S. government for security resources. Privately funded security arrangements have been made."
It is not known what the 'private' security arrangements Meghan and Harry claim to have made are. Many speculated on the total security cost for Harry and his family after Canada announced their government would not pay for the family's security services. The cost was estimated to be ranging from as low as $1.7 million to as high as $30 million.
MEA WorldWide spoke to private security firms in the Los Angeles area to understand the costs associated with the family's protection as well as the risks associated with protecting such a public family.
Roderick Payne of the Fast Guard Service said that at minimum, a seven-member team consisting of a four-man protection detail and one driver would be necessary for a person with celebrity status.
He added there would be one plainclothes floater and one advance man in plain clothes to pre-asses locations that would be visited by the family. The cost for such a service would be paid on a daily basis and would cost $3,600 per agent, per day, leading to a minimum cost of $9.2 million. Payne added that the price reflects the amount of planning that goes into detailing high-level security of this kind.
Payne added, "If and when a person [hires] my staff for a service, they would deal primarily with [the] point of contact throughout their detail. My staff does a comprehensive evaluation of the possible dangers known and unknown. Dealing with a group that is so high profile does present some challenges -- when and where to go, the route to get there, and how long is too long to stay at a location based on the assessment of the agent. We will also have to be on the lookout when it comes to social media and cell phones."
Luis Valentine of Elevated Protected Services told MEAWW, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s biggest challenge will be keeping unwanted guests out of their property. In these uncertain times, law enforcement has dedicated its time to urgent calls. With that being said, response time depending on the situation could take a lot longer than usual. This is where the Private Security would step in and close that gap in time. Having an armed or unarmed officer in the property at all times would ensure the safety of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle."
Valentin also noted that the security sector witnessed a spike in cases of break-ins at the homes of celebrities and high-profile personnel in 2019. He attributed this to the fact that many celebrities did not have officers onsite, therefore making them an easy target. Valentine's estimate for the annual cost for the family's protection ranges from $4.3 million to $13.1 million.
As Harry and Meghan lose their HRH titles starting April 1, the family has to carefully consider the threat risk assessment before settling on their final choice for private security as well as the costs they will have to bear.