CBS News: Harry and Meghan invited to King’s coronation
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been warned they could be in danger before and after the King’s Coronation if they decide to attend the royal event. While the American-based couple would be safe during the Coronation with royal security, they would be exposed to all sorts of threats outside of it – even with private security. The UK’s private security industry is “unfit for purpose” meaning the Sussexes would still face dangers with a privately hired security team, according to Richard Aitch, a bodyguard with over 20 years of experience.
He told Express.co.uk the couple’s security would be “colocated” with the Royal Family during the royal event on May 6.
“But when they are on their own, then that becomes a question of whether the Met Police protects Harry and Meghan.”
The fact King Charles has removed Frogmore Cottage raises the question of where they will stay and what security will be provided to them, Mr Aitch said.
Asked what threats the American-based couple could face while in Britain, Mr Aitch said: “The threats are wide-ranging from the cracks and lunatics up to the seriously planned attacks.”
“Before they even leave the US to come to the UK, they will have to know for sure whether they will have royal security protection when they’re not colocated with other members of the Royal Family,” Mr Aitch said.
While he acknowledged the security risks are the same in the US and in the UK, he said the UK’s private security industry is “unable to mitigate and control those threats properly.”
Mr Aitch, a bodyguard with 20 years of experience working for celebrities, businesses and British officials, wrote a book on the UK’s flawed private security industry. His verdict is that the industry is “unfit for purpose.”
He explained: “The Security Industry Authority (SIA), which is the regulator, does not have a proper professional approach to the delivery of private security – hence the incident in Manchester. A lot of blame is being put in the eyes of the MI5 but let’s face it, the guys on the ground and the bodyguards didn’t react at all.”
The state of the UK’s private industry security is “so terrible” Harry and Meghan could be subjected to physical threats if they decided to come, Mr Aitch said.
The UK’s private security industry is regulated by the Security Industry Authority which works on behalf of the Home Office.
The issue, Mr Aitch says, is that the Government recognises licences being provided to individuals providing security where the training is “unfit for purpose”.
The bodyguard, who has been lobbying the Government for better security for the past 16 years, said: “A school leaver who is half blind, half deaf, he can’t walk up the stairs without being out of breath, is awarded a licence to provide security to another person who is actually paying for that service thinking that a Government-recognised licensing scheme is fit for purpose when it really is not.”
The crux of the problem is that the SIA offers 2-week courses from £1,994 allowing anyone to become a licensed bodyguard without adequate training, he says.
“The private security industry is viewed as an easy mechanism for the Home Office to get people back to work, get them off the streets, reduce unemployment, increase employment, and reduce the burden on the welfare state.
“What you have is a low-hanging fruit for the Home Office where if the SAI were to increase standards to a fit-for-purpose level in terms of the training for courses in close protection, in effect you’re creating barriers to employment in terms of access to that course and also the cost of the course.
“The SAI cannot be seen to be putting barriers to employment because it would be in conflict with the remit of the Home Office.”
He said the whole situation is “diabolical”.
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Because of the inadequately trained private bodyguards, Mr Aitch said Harry and Meghan should have Met Police protection.
Harry said he was willing to pay for Metropolitan Police protection when he visit the UK, but the force and the Government said they are not “gun for hire”.
To that, Mr Aitch said: “There has to be a disconnect. People are getting too personally involved in their own opinions on the fact of Harry leaving, Meghan and the book and so on. You have to totally disconnect yourself from this and focus 100 percent on the threats and on the position of the individual.”
Until that is done, he said, Harry and Meghan will not be provided proper security operation.
Mr Aitch said “it wouldn’t surprise” him if Meghan and Harry went from the airport to the Coronation and back to the airport to avoid all risks.
But at the end of the day, he says: “Avoidance is the best threat mitigator. Don’t come to the UK.”
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