There is far more to the much anticipated and extensively written about wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – due to take place on May 19 – than the usual stuff that invariably entails a royal wedding.
Yes, you can expect a stunning bridal dress, designer suits, flowers and decoration, royalties and dignitaries in attendance, and fans and well-wishers lining the streets of Windsor for a glimpse of the newlyweds, as they undertake a carriage procession through the town following their matrimonial vows at St George’s Chapel.
But it is the security arrangements we are talking about here!
While tight security is a given in any royal wedding, the scale of the arrangement this time around – expected to cost the royal exchequer upwards of $42 million – is rather unsettling, in that the threat to the royal couple is clear and present, particularly in the wake of the recent anthrax scare and the racially-motivated message the former Suits star received with it.
Add to that Prince Harry’s active military service in war-torn Afghanistan, and you have all the reason that warrants the kind of security measures being adopted for the May nuptials.
“In the last thousand years there hasn’t been a King or Queen that someone hasn’t tried to murder,” former Head of Royal Protection and Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Service Dai Davies told E! News. “History has a habit of repeating itself,” he said.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were provided security worth $33 million during their 2011 wedding, which involved rooftop snipers; undercover police blending in with the crowds; and extensive search operations by teams of explosive experts, covering every conceivable nook and cranny; in addition to months of advance preparation leading up to the day.
Be assured that Harry and Markle’s wedding day security detail will include all of that, AND some, with the bill expected to set the royal treasury back by $42 million, possibly more.
“This is a time to be extremely prudent and sensible. Every precaution needs to be taken,” Davies told E! News.
“Thousands of people will be working on keeping the family and their fans safe,” said Davies.
“Windsor is a much harder area to secure than London, which is so much better prepared.
In Windsor, there are shops, buildings, houses, you name it and there is a history of people trying to get into Windsor Castle,” Davies said, explaining the logistical difficulties in securing a place like Windsor.
“The greatest risk comes from those people that we call ‘fixated’, i.e., mentally ill people, who could think, for whatever reason, that a white prince shouldn’t marry a black woman,” he said. Obviously, the anthrax threat and the racially-charged letter to Markle were playing on his mind.
“Most of these people are well known. But there is always the chance that someone unknown wakes up and suddenly says, ‘This is my moment. This is my destiny’,” fears Davies.
“Clearly 99 percent of the population are deliriously happy about that but you could get a small right-wing fascist group who may object to it, so that adds to your problem. I don’t know how they are going to secure it [Windsor] to the level that I would want, but clearly, much wiser people are now doing the job and I’m sure they’ll come up with a plan,” he hopes.
Dr. David James, a psychiatrist who was formerly associated with the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (a team experts entrusted with the task of monitoring and handling stalker threats to the royals and other high-profile targets within the kingdom) told E! News that royalty, invariably, has a tendency to draw mentally challenged and delusionary people.
“Some people think they are related to them, others think they are already married to them or they may think the royal family is responsible for the strange implants in their head. At any one time there can be hundreds of people obsessed with them,” he said, giving his expert appraisal of the situation.
“There are databases of the people who have been aggressive in the past. Before the wedding, certain fixated people will be stopped from traveling to the area where the ceremony is taking place,” he added.
Referring to the fact that the timing of the royal couple’s public carriage ride after their vows are already in the public domain, Davies said that he would be happier if the exact routes were not publicized. “It definitely adds to the pressures on the day. The more advanced notice you can give someone the more the potential risk and threat there will be,” he said.
James, on the other hand, is of the opinion that making the route known to the public actually works in favor of the security team.
“It means the security planning can be well prepared,” he told E! News. “They can stop certain fixated people traveling to the area, anyone with an old grievance, who is mentally ill and who has shown signs.”
“This case is slightly different because it appears to have anti-women and racial undertones,” James said with reference to the racist message to Markle. “This may just be a product of living in the same old world as before, it’s just there seems to be more nastiness because of the prevalence of social media. I imagine the investigation into the letter will be looking at individuals who have been known in the past.”
Explaining the unobtrusive nature of the security arrangements, so that they don’t come in the way of the overall celebrations, Davies told E! News, “You can’t turn the palaces into prisons,” adding that, “William and Harry have grown up with protection all their lives so they are used to this. And for Meghan, well, she has been going out with Harry for quite a while. She’s a very bright and intelligent lady so I have no doubt she is taking to all of this like a duck to water.”