Prince Harry has been given ‘cast iron assurances’ he, Meghan Markle and their children will be protected when they land in Britain today for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – despite his ongoing row with the Home Office over police guards.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are thought to be travelling without any senior staff and just a small security team, having left their most trusted workers back home in California, according to people with knowledge of their travel plans.
The couple will make the trip with son Archie, three, and daughter Lilibet, who turns one this weekend, and are predicted to land in Britain later today.
They will stay at their Windsor home of Frogmore Cottage over the bank holiday weekend. It is only the second time Meghan has returned to the UK after they sensationally quit their royal roles in 2020.
The Met’s Royalty and Specialist Protection unit is understood to have spent weeks liaising with Harry’s team to guarantee taxpayer-funded officers, The Mirror reports.
It comes as Harry, 37, is taking legal action against the Home Office after being stripped of permanent police protection after quitting as a frontline royal.
It means that the Sussexes will get Met armed police around them at official royal events such as during the Platinum Jubilee – and while travelling to them – as well as their protection while staying at Frogmore Cottage on the Queen’s estate at Windsor.
But this will not extend to while they are out at private events such as socialising with friends at restaurants and pubs or going to the shops.
Harry has since claimed he does not feel safe under these security arrangements when bringing his family to the UK and was ‘unable to return home’ over fears it is too dangerous. He had even offered to pay for British police bodyguards himself – but the Met said that their officers cannot be paid for.
Harry and Meghan pictured together at a volleyball event during the Invictus Games at Zuiderpark in April
Harry and Meghan pictured with son Archie, three, and daughter Lilibet, who will turn one this weekend
Prince Harry is taking legal action against the Government over its decision to remove his security (above, Harry and Meghan with bodyguards in New Zealand in 2018)
Police officers patrol Windsor ahead of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018
Sources told The Mirror that he has always been ‘in favour’ of returning to the UK for the Queen’s celebrations, despite the Met insisting its officers are not ‘guns for hire’.
At their US home, Harry and Meghan are protected by a 24-hour security team, including 12 former special forces personnel.
A source said: ‘For Harry, this has always been about protecting his family.
‘He has been in constant contact with the relevant parties and made it very clear that he wouldn’t travel without receiving cast iron assurances over the safety of his family.
‘He is satisfied the right procedures are in place and they are all very much looking forward to this week’s celebrations and of course getting to spend time with Her Majesty.’
Harry and Meghan are expected to attend the Service of Thanksgiving with the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday morning – as well as the BBC’s Party at the Palace the following evening, the report claimed.
But the sources added that the Sussexes will not conduct their own programme of events while in Britain to avoid overshadowing the four-day weekend of celebrations for the 70-year reign of Harry’s 96-year-old grandmother.
This suggests that they may stay at Windsor, where they will be protected by armed police.
It comes after the couple met the monarch in a brief secret meeting with Prince Charles before they flew out to the Invictus Games in the Netherlands earlier this month.
At the meeting, Harry and Meghan promised they would introduce the Queen to Lilibet, who is named after her.
With the Queen expected to pace herself over the four-day bank holiday weekend, extended so the nation can celebrate the jubilee, there is speculation she will not travel to Epsom racecourse for the Derby on Saturday as she does not have a runner, although another of her thoroughbreds is entered in a race.
The day could be the perfect opportunity for the royal family to gather to celebrate the christening of Lilibet at Windsor Castle on the child’s first birthday.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment on the reports and said: ‘Frogmore Cottage remains the UK home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’
The Mail revealed on Saturday that the Queen is set to spend time with the family on Saturday to celebrate Lilibet’s birthday.
She has never met her great-grand-daughter and not seen Archie in person since he was a baby and taken by his parents to Canada and then the US.
There has also been speculation that the couple may try to get Lili christened while they are here in the private chapel at Windsor Castle, where Archie was also christened in 2019.
And while Prince Harry may have been feuding with Prince William over the last few years – but there is one man in his life whom he is unafraid to put on a touchy-feely display with.
Argentinian Ignacio Figueras (known as Nacho) has played polo alongside Prince Harry, 37, in various matches over the years, attended the royal wedding and was among the first to meet his son Archie in 2019.
Meanwhile he has become one of the Sussexes most vocal supporters, praising the Duke and Duchess, 40, in magazine interviews and during TV appearances.
He appeared on Ellen’s show in September 2019 to announce that he would ‘defend his friends’ with his life and has even launched a royal-inspired scent.
And in recent weeks, Nacho and Harry have put on a particularly tactile display while playing polo together at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club.
Prince Harry may have been feuding with Prince William over the last few years – but he is unafraid to put on a touchy-feely display with Ignacio Figueras
Nacho has played polo alongside Prince Harry, 37, in various matches over the years, attended the royal wedding and was among the first to meet his son Archie in 2019 (left, in 2019, and right 2021)
While they may appear to come from different worlds, it is their shared love of polo which has pulled them into a close friendship.
Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nacho started playing the game at the ripe age of nine years old after his father introduced him to the sport.
He became a professional polo player by the time he was just 17. After a stint in Europe, he ended up at the White Birch Polo Team based in Bridgehampton, New York.
Described by Tatler as ‘the David Beckham of Polo’ he now holds a 6-goal handicap and an estimated net worth of $30 million and has been modelling for Ralph Lauren since 2000.
But modelling was never the goal for the athlete, who began his career just to earn some extra cash and bring more attention to his beloved sport.
It all took off when he was approached by photographer Bruce Weber at a party in The Hamptons hosted by Calvin Klein’s ex-wife Kelly, who encouraged him to get his start in modelling.
Score! Nacho congratulates Prince Harry after scoring during the Sentebale Handa Polo Cup charity match in Rome; pictured May 2019
While that avenue of his career has introduced his objectively handsome face into everyday homes via glossy fashion magazines and television commercials, the game of polo has always been his true passion.
He and Harry have been playing alongside each other in charity matches for the past decade, ultimately moving them to becoming close friends.
Both Prince Harry and Nacho regularly play in Sentebale’s charity matches to raise funds for Sentebale, an organisation co-founded by Prince Harry that supports children and young people affected by HIV in southern Africa.
Charity is another common interest for Nacho and the Duke, with the polo player actively praising the royal over the years for his work.
The two men have bonded over their love for polo, their life as fathers and their ongoing charity work (pictured, in 217 in Singapore)
Speaking about his friendship with the royal, Nacho told Town and Country magazine in 2019: ‘What I like the most about him is how real he is and how serious he is about improving life for kids that have not had the blessings that we’ve had.’
Nacho has been to Lesotho with Prince Harry three times, most recently opening the Mamohato Centre together in 2015.
He said the charity, of which he is an ambassador, remained ‘incredibly close to our hearts’.
He also revealed that Prince Harry was ‘the first one to wake up’ during their trips to Lesotho, and was always up to date with the goings-on.
A royal affair: the couple posed at St. George Chapel to celebrate the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, their close friends; pictured May 2018
Nacho said that the Duke would often point out things which should be fixed, as well as asking for updates on equipment.
Along with forming a special friendship with Prince Harry, the game of polo also brought him to his wife Delfina Blaquier, the daughter of an Argentinian polo player.
The pair first met, fittingly, at a polo match in Buenos Aires in 1997. They started dating in early 1998 and welcomed their first son in 2000, and wed in December 2005.
The couple now has four children together: Hilario; Aurora; Artemo; and Alba.
Best pals: Nacho and Prince Harry at the 2018 Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup, with Meghan Markle and Delfina walking behind them; pictured in July 2018
Supporting Harry: Nacho Figueras attend the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup in Rome, a charity co-founded by the prince; pictured in May 2019
Fatherhood is another topic which he is believed to have bonded with the Duke of Sussex over.
Shortly after his son Archie was born, Nacho praised the as an ‘amazing’ parent and said he is ‘very, very happy’ about fatherhood.
He said: ‘He seems to be really, really happy so I’m very happy and excited for him.
‘I’ve been saying this for a long time, he’s a person that loves children.
‘I’ve seen him interact with children for a very long time in all these things that we do in Africa so I’m not surprised he’s an amazing father.’
A brotherhood: The Duke played with Nacho in a polo match mere days after his son Archie Harrison was born in 2019
Nacho, who is a vocal supporter of the Sussexes, and Prince Harry have long appeared close and tactile in their friendship
The polo player unveiled his fragrance line in 2019 on Instagram, with one of the perfumes named ‘Windsor’
Known as one of the most recognisable players in the world, he has actively spoken out to defend Harry and Meghan over the years.
The father-of-four is an ambassador for Sentebale, an organisation founded by the prince which is dedicated to helping children and young people who or whose families suffer with HIV and Aids in Lesotho.
During the interview he also described Meghan as ‘incredible’, and revealed how she ‘gave up everything for the man she loves’.
He also a selection of six fragrances, including one named ‘Windsor’, which hinted at a ‘brotherhood of kindred spirits’ with the Duke.
And earlier this week, he shared a post praising the Duke on Instagram, writing: ‘What a joy to see you smile and be so happy. I love being your teammate.’
And the pair have remained close despite Prince Harry stepping back from royal duty! Prince Harry and Nacho are pictured here hugging at Aspen Valley Polo Club on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021
The Duke and Nacho have now played their last polo game in Santa Barbara before Prince Harry heads to London with his family to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee
Proving his closeness to the royal, yesterday Nacho shared a snap of the two men after their most recent polo match and said he ‘loved’ being his teammate