LONDON — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle faced “very real” threats to their safety, including threats emanating from the far-right, while in the U.K., an outgoing top British police official has said.
Neil Basu, the outgoing Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations at Scotland Yard, told British news outlet Channel 4 that he had investigated a number of “disgusting and very real” threats against the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
He said at least some of those threats emanated from the far-right.
“I’ve talked publicly for many years about the threat of extreme right-wing terrorism in this country,” after being asked about the threats against Meghan and Harry in the interview, which aired on Tuesday.
“If you’d seen the stuff that was written and you were receiving it, the kind of rhetoric that’s online … you would feel under threat all of the time,” Basu, who is the former head of counter terrorism and was in charge of royal protection in the years before the Sussexes left the U.K., said.
Asked if there had been a genuine threat to Meghan’s life on more than one occasion, Basu replied: “We had teams investigating it. People have been prosecuted for those threats.”
Representatives for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
Harry and Meghan moved to Los Angeles in 2020 after spending time in Canada.
They initially announced in January 2020 that they would take a “step back” as senior members of the royal family. At the time, they said they planned to divide their time between the U.K. and North America.
Prince Harry won the right in July to challenge the status of security arrangements in the U.K. that were put in place following his and Meghan’s decision to step back from their royal roles.
A legal representative previously said Harry had wanted to bring his two children, Archie and Lilibet, to the U.K. so they could “know his home country,” but said it was too risky without proper police protection.
The statement had said Harry wanted to pay for police protection himself, rather than make British taxpayers foot the bill, but that he was unable to do so unless Britain’s Home Office allowed it.
It further said Harry’s security had been “compromised due to the absence of police protection” during a visit to the U.K. to unveil a statue in honor of his late mother, Princess Diana.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex personally fund a private security team for their family, yet that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the U.K.,” the statement had said.
“In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home,” it said.
The statement said Harry had “inherited a security risk at birth,” and asserted that his family has been subjected to “well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats.”
Meghan has also been vocal about how racism has impacted her mental health, career and relationships.
In March 2021, Meghan and Harry told Oprah in a tell-all exclusive that royal insiders had expressed “concerns” about how dark the skin of their children might be. The couple declined to name the individual in the explosive interview, but Winfrey later said that Harry had made clear it was neither Queen Elizabeth II, his grandmother, nor her husband, Prince Philip.
The couple also slammed parts of the British media for what they said was a torrent of racist abuse toward Meghan, whose mother is Black. The interview sparked sometimes heated debates on social media and television about the role racism played in the couple’s exit.
Buckingham Palace later issued a statement addressing the interview and said the family were “saddened” to learn the extent of the challenges faced by the couple.
“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning,” the statement said. “While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”