Royal experts are questioning the decision to allow Prince Andrew to keep his taxpayer-funded security as Prince Harry continues his legal battle for U.K. police protection for his family.
The U.K.'s Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (RAVEC), which is responsible for security decisions regarding the royal family and key public figures, determined that the Duke of York is still entitled to publicly-funded police protection despite stepping back from royal duties, The Telegraph reported. International Business Times could not independently verify this information.
Prince Andrew's security is reportedly estimated to cost between $600,000 and $3.6 million annually, according to the outlet. He has not been seen at a royal event since March, when he escorted Queen Elizabeth at a service of thanksgiving held in honor of the monarch's late husband Prince Philip.
Correspondent Christina Garibaldi, a co-host of Us Weekly's "Royally Us" podcast, said she believes it was not "fair" that the Duke of York continues to receive round-the-clock police protection, while Prince Harry's was removed after he stepped back from royal duties.
Her co-host Christine Ross, meanwhile, called the decision "weird."
"It's just a very strange decision for this committee to make, if they have indeed made this decision," Ross continued. "I mean, it just raises more questions, and with Andrew keeping his ties to the royal family, you just want to say, 'Why, why, why?'"
Garibaldi added that it's unclear if Queen Elizabeth was involved in the decision but noted that the 96-year-old monarch "has always been in Andrew's corner throughout a lot of this and has always had his back."
"But it is kind of a double standard in some way because why should he receive this protection and Harry not?" she continued.
Royal expert Omid Scobie, who co-authored a biography of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2020 titled "Finding Freedom," also commented on the decision in a column for Yahoo News, writing: "It seems cruel in the extreme to allow Prince Andrew round-the-clock police protection but not the future King's son."
The news also garnered attention on social media, with some questioning the differences in the treatment of Prince Harry's and Prince Andrew's situations.
"Disgraced Prince Andrew receiving tax-funded security while Prince Harry fights to have good security for his family in [the U.K.] is cruel and unjustified," activist and political commentator Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu tweeted. "Unacceptable."
Prince Andrew stepped back from public duties in November 2019 following criticism over his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a lawsuit against Prince Andrew in 2021, alleging that she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with the Duke of York at the age of 17. Prince Andrew has denied any wrongdoing.
In January, Queen Elizabeth stripped Prince Andrew of his patronages and military titles amid her son's case. He settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount in February.
"With The Queen's approval and agreement, The Duke of York's military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen," Buckingham Palace announced at the time. "The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen."
Meanwhile, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle lost their publicly-funded U.K. police protection when they stepped down as senior working royals in 2020. However, Prince Harry, who wants to pay personally for police security when he comes to Britain, has challenged the government's refusal to permit it.
His legal team previously stated that Prince Harry "does not feel safe" bringing his children Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1, to the U.K. under this arrangement because his U.S. security team does not have jurisdiction in the U.K. or access to U.K. government intelligence.
In July, Judge Jonathan Swift granted the Duke of Sussex "permission to apply for judicial review" over the RAVEC decision, according to legal papers obtained by People.
The legal action will now proceed to a full hearing at the High Court in London between Prince Harry and the U.K. government.