Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ROYALS FACE CUT IN POLICE GUARDS; DILEMMA FOR YARD OVER HIGH SECURITY COSTS; EUGENIE COULD NEED TWO FOR U.S. COLLEGE; Eugenie Gap-Year Prompts Call for Royal Protection to Be Streamlined

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ROYALS FACE CUT IN POLICE GUARDS; DILEMMA FOR YARD OVER HIGH SECURITY COSTS; EUGENIE COULD NEED TWO FOR U.S. COLLEGE; Eugenie Gap-Year Prompts Call for Royal Protection to Be Streamlined

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Davenport Crime Correspondent

A SECURITY review is under way over the cost of providing police protection for junior members of the royal family, the Standard can reveal today.

Scotland Yard officers have expressed concern behind closed doors over the current bill for royalty protection. Experts estimate that the cost has reached as much as [pounds sterling]50 million.

The review will look at where the money is spent and whether some younger family members actually need round-the-clock protection.

The issue has come to a head in recent weeks over the cost of protecting Princess Eugenie during her gap year. Further concern has been raised by reports that the 19-year-old princess, the daughter of Prince Andrew, is considering going to an American university.

The cost of protection for her there would be enormous because she would need two specialist officers constantly at her side.

Further strain has been put on the royalty protection squad by the need for high-level security around Princes William and Harry, both serving in the armed forces, and both potential targets for terrorists.

Dai Davies, former head of Scotland Yard's Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Squad, said it was time to streamline the operation. He said: "I think it is perfectly right to ask the question why are we doing it and is it justified at a time when we are sending soldiers to Afghanistan who are not properly equipped. Why don't we give priority to those people who really do need protecting?

" There could be factors that I do not know about, such as fixated people. But when I was running the squad there was no direct threat to these minor royals."

Changing the system carries huge political risks but there is an acknowledgement within senior police and Palace circles that pictures of young royals being driven from nightclubs by publicly- funded bodyguards are not appreciated by the public.

Scotland Yard is under pressure to keep costs down in line with the rest of the public sector but were an attack to follow the removal of protection, there would be public outcry, presenting a dilemma to police and the royal household. It would be politically damaging to the Government, as decisions on royal security are ultimately a matter for the Home Secretary.

Defenders of the status quo say that the major proportion of the protection budget goes on round- the- clock armed guards on palaces and advanced hitech security measures.

Eugenie's gap- year exploits have already raised questions. While she pays for her own travel, the cost of her security officers can quickly mount. Two to three officers are needed to provide 24- hour protection; costs include their flights, expenses, accommodation and overtime.

One estimate is that her gap - year security bill will reach [pounds sterling] 110,000, on top of the annual [pounds sterling] 280,000 for regular protection. …

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