The UK may call upon volunteers from Scotland Yard to relocate to Canada and spend months at a time there, in order to offer protection to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after they officially step down as working royals on 31 March, writes The Daily Telegraph.
Protection arrangements for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could potentially become a security nightmare for police resources as Canada has confirmed it will stop guarding them "in keeping with the change of their status”.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced earlier in the week that they would stop guarding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after the two stop being members of the royal family in the coming weeks.
"As the Duke and Duchess are currently recognised as Internationally Protected Persons, Canada has an obligation to provide security assistance on an as-needed basis," the statement said.
Amid suggestions from royal sources that the couple will contribute towards their own security if they achieve commercial success, police sources are cited as being puzzled as to how exactly the future security plan will work.
While there are no details as yet regarding where Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and their son, Archie, will live, how often they will travel, and who will foot the security bill, a Scotland Yard source is quoted by the publication as saying:
"This situation is completely unprecedented in the modern era and there are still many details that need to be worked out before any long-term decisions can be made. Negotiations are ongoing."
Just what level of protection the royal couple receives once they cease to be working royals is still up for debate by the Royal and VIP Executive Committee, chaired by former civil servant Sir Richard Mottram. A decision will be hammered out after a due assessment of risks and vulnerability.
One police source said:
"The team is likely to consist of three or four Met officers who will be based full-time wherever the Duke and Duchess are in the world. The Met will probably ask for volunteers."
Amidst the bombshell announcement earlier in the year that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex intend to step away from public duties, move abroad and "transition into a new working model", becoming financially independent of the UK taxpayer, explaining their decision amid apparent frustration over intensified media attention to their personas, speculation has been rife over who would foot the bill for guarding the couple and their son.
The UK government might be asked to contribute towards the costs of protecting the royal couple, according to sources.
According to former head of the Met's royal protection squad Dai Davies, the couple could not expect to rely on a private security firm as the “threat against the couple was too severe”.
"Several individuals have threatened to kill Harry in the past few years… There is a credible threat. Access to intelligence and risk assessment are absolutely essential. They will also have to guarantee that their personal protection team is adequately trained. The only way this is guaranteed is to use specially trained officers," he said.
Security experts have been in agreement that Prince Harry faces a credible risk due to both his royal lineage and his former service in Afghanistan.
"There is no formal mechanism in place for this kind of arrangement… I've never heard of external forces being paid privately by the Met but it could happen."
Davies was also quoted as voicing his surprise that there was an ongoing public discussion of the matter.
"There has clearly been a breakdown in communications at every level. This scenario should not be a matter of public debate. It's an indictment on all concerned," he added.
Another former royal protection officer, Simon Morgan, said the final decision would hinge on the role that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle choose to adopt on the global stage.
"If they come off the Internationally Protected Persons list, they become ultra-high net worth individuals, many of whom, such as Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson, do have round-the-clock protection," he said.
"It's a strategic decision. But whether it's a private team or the Met, there will be one team who will look after their physical, cyber, technical security and intelligence. It will all be wrapped into one package… If they are earning money and are able to justify and pay for their protection team, then why would they not pay for it, like others do? It is different if their day-to-day role has any element of public duty,” added Morgan.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their shock royal exit announcement last month that they would be stepping back from their duties in the British royal family, intending to split their time between the UK and North America while working to become financially independent.
Under an arrangement agreed upon with the Queen, the couple will no longer carry out official duties on her behalf, will retain but not use their HRH titles, and have been forced to abandon plans of using the brand “Sussex Royal”. The arrangement is up for review in 12 months.