The Duke of York on Friday faced calls to pay for his own security as the fallout from his civil sex case continued.
Despite stepping back from official duties more than two years ago, as a senior royal he has continued to receive round-the-clock Scotland Yard protection at an estimated annual cost of £2 million to the taxpayer.
Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday that the Duke would not be returning to public duties and would no longer use his HRH title. He has also been stripped of all military titles and patronages.
Damian Hinds, the Security Minister, refused to confirm whether the Duke would still receive taxpayer-funded protection.
Speaking on LBC, Mr Hinds said: “Our security forces, the police and others, do what they judge is necessary to protect our country, to protect people in it.”
He said it was a “long-standing principle that we don’t talk about who and how in particular”.
When pushed, he said: “I know this is going to come across to you possibly, and possibly to some listeners, like me obfuscating and avoiding the question, and I suppose maybe even in some ways it is avoiding the question, but only because it is right to say that the police and our wider security forces do what is right and proportionate to protect the people of this country.
“And we don’t publicise exactly what that covers.”
Retired Chief Superintendent Dai Davies, a former head of royal protection, this week suggested that whether the Duke was still afforded specialist security would be based entirely around intelligence and the perceived threat level.
In December, a woman was arrested after banging on the Duke’s car window and shouting at him as he drove through Windsor.
Earlier last year, he was targeted by multiple intruders who tried to gain access to the Grade II-listed Windsor home he shares with his former wife, the Duchess of York.
But Graham Smith, chief executive officer of the organisation Republic, called on the Queen’s second son to foot the bill for his own protection, now that he is essentially a “private citizen”.
Mr Smith, whose organisation campaigns for an elected head of state, said: “Given that he’s no longer in any real sense a member of the Royal household it does make sense he pays for his own security.”
£125 million a year
The issue of taxpayer-funded security for non-working royals was last raised when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down from official duties.
When the couple made public their decision, they suggested that the Home Office, through the Metropolitan Police, should continue to provide protection for their family.
But Norman Baker, a former Home Office minister, called at the time for Scotland Yard to cap the annual expenditure on security for the couple to its 2019 level.
The Sussexes later signed multimillion-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, with the Duke telling Oprah Winfrey he had secured them to pay for his security.
A spokesman from Scotland Yard said the force does not discuss matters of protection.
The full cost of royal security is kept from the public as Scotland Yard argues it would compromise safety. But it is believed to cost taxpayers well in excess of £125 million a year.