A U.K. high court judge ruled on Tuesday, May 23, that Harry, 38, would not be permitted to pay for private security for his family on visits to his home country — a move Atich exclusively told Us Weekly is “totally wrong,” adding, “It’s just absolutely ridiculous and completely mind-baffling.”
Agreeing that U.K. taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund the couple’s security — as they stepped down from their official royal duties in January 2020 — Atich said that Harry has the right as a prominent member of the British royal family to have the ability to hire some form of security “regardless of whether he serves the crown or not.”
Stateside, the director of operations for Mobius International Security said that the pair — who share son Archie, 4, and daughter Lilibet, 23 months — should “have security in the U.S. commercial private sector provision of security,” but that their security should be overseen by “a U.K. Met police officer to ensure that standards are being delivered, and also to have that access of intelligence flows, as well, from the U.K. intelligence agencies.”
Since stepping down as senior royals, Harry and Meghan, 41, lost their royal security detail, a decision the Duke of Sussex said came as a surprise in his tell-all memoir, Spare. He also criticized the palace for not stripping his uncle Prince Andrew of his security privileges amid his sexual assault scandal. Andrew, 63, denied accusations made by Virginia Giuffre and the case was settled out of court in February 2022.
Atich went on to note that Harry and Meghan’s recent New York City car chase only highlights their need for better security. A spokesperson for the couple confirmed to Us on Wednesday, May 17, that the twosome and Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, were involved in a “relentless pursuit” with paparazzi on their way home from the 2023 Women of Vision Awards. The NYPD later confirmed that no collisions or injuries occurred. Buckingham Palace denied to comment on the incident.
“The concern here is the fact that you have a high-profile couple within the public limelight with severe public interest in them,’ Atich explained. “And the paparazzi will do anything to gain their photos or follow them to confirm locations they’re visiting, who they’re meeting with to create that story that’s needed in the media. And of course, it very much becomes a state of cat and mouse.”
The couple’s security team told Us on Wednesday that the chase “could have been fatal,” though the group’s taxi driver, Sukhcharn Singh, who took over driving the trio in the middle of the incident, said that their recounts of the night were “exaggerated.”
Atich noted that since the couple’s security falls under “commercial operations” and not “police protection law,” they are not entitled to receive police escorts and must obey “normal traffics restrictions, road closures and close proximity to other road users.” Knowing this, Harry and Meghan’s team could have taken preventative measures by having blinds in their vehicles or even using “armored vehicles” if the concern called for it.
“But suffice to say is if the drivers start accelerating away from the paparazzi, all you are doing is enticing a chase,” he added. “And you will have innocent bystanders being knocked over or indeed a traffic accident.”
That’s not to say Harry and Meghan’s use of a taxi to get home from the NYC awards ceremony was a bad idea. “When you are using a yellow New York taxi cab, you become one of hundreds of thousands within a city. You can easily be lost and blend in with the population,” Atich stated. “However, if someone sees you getting into their taxi, then you have just unearthed the whole mountain of problems and issues.”
While Atich does “pity” the couple at the end of the day, being photographed and followed by paparazzi is a “byproduct of being out there in the public domain” for Harry and Meghan.
He added: “If security is an issue for you, then you need to ensure that that security is balanced, well-trained and afforded in the right, proper way. At the moment, all of this reaction, unbalanced response to the paparazzi, is only enticing the chances of a situation that could be terrible for both the couple and others as well.”
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi