THE rich and famous know full well how easy it is to slip in and out of the UK largely unnoticed.
It goes like this: Arrive at the departing airport with the minimum of fuss, use “special services” to process your documents in a VIP room away from other passengers, then enter First Class just before they close the doors.
That way, 98 per cent of the people on board don’t even know you’re there.
Upon landing, you’re whisked off first, special services look after you again, then a Range Rover with blacked-out windows takes you straight to your destination. Simples.
And if you’re flying private, it’s even easier to stay incognito. Case in point is that Taylor Swift and her long-term boyfriend Joe Alwyn have just enjoyed a romantic weekend in the Cornish seaside town of St Ives.
There aren’t any pap shots because news of their visit only seeped out after they had left.
Taylor is a global superstar so, if she can fly to the UK unnoticed and walk around a holiday hotspot without being bothered, then it’s a fair bet that Harry and Meghan could land on these shores with a private security detail and hotfoot it unbothered to
the safe confines of some royal palace where highly trained Met officers would be in situ.
But of course, that’s not good enough for the Prince and Princess of Montecito, who seem to assume that a team of highly trained Met protection officers have simply been playing poker in a side room while awaiting their return to the UK.
Les plus lus dans Opinion
As Princess Diana’s former royal protection officer Ken Wharfe succinctly put it yesterday: “Police protection should not be for sale.” Quite. Even Princess Anne — the hardest-working royal of all — only has it when she’s on official duties.
Prince Andrew no longer has it, his daughters haven’t had it since they finished full-time education in 2011 and Princess Anne’s children don’t get it either. So why the hell should Harry and Meghan feel they can pay to use it when it suits them?
Particularly as guarding them would take the officers — whose specialist training was funded by the taxpayer — away from other important duties.
If the security services felt there was a real threat to the couple, then the top-secret RAVEC (Royal and VIP Executive Committee) would make the call on whether police protection is needed.
Consequently, the “threat matrix” was high on Prince Philip’s funeral and Harry was included under the umbrella of police protection.
But travelling to and from the UK is not high on the threat matrix, nor is Harry’s paranoia about the paparazzi. Both of these can be covered by a private security detail.
Perhaps Harry’s bugbear isn’t just about safety
The Sussexes (Meghan has visited the county just once — for six hours) have made it clear they now regard themselves as private citizens and no longer even live in the UK.
They’re celebrities now and, just like Ms Swift, must organise their own security.
But perhaps Harry’s bugbear isn’t just about safety. Perhaps it relates to status too, and possible feelings of irrelevance within a monarchy focused on the heir and not the spare.
Le cas échéant, I genuinely sympathise. But this is a RAVEC decision, not a slight by the Queen and the rest of the family who love him and William equally.
If he and Meghan fly over with little fanfare and quietly join in the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum jubilee (where they will have the benefit of police protection), they will be welcomed with open arms by the British people — just as they were at the time of their wedding.
So let’s hope they don’t use this latest legal action as an excuse for Meghan to stay home with the kids while, once again, he travels home alone for a blink-and-you-miss-him visit.
WE’D ALL BANK AN EASY £2M
LOCALS in Lowestoft, Suffolk, are reportedly “fuming” after a shop owner removed a Banksy mural from his wall and flogged it to a private buyer for £2million.
One wonders if they would take the same view if it was their wall it had been painted on. Après tout, who wouldn’t take such an easy windfall if they could?
Peter so patient
RIP The Sun’s delightful gardening expert Peter Seabrook, who never gave up hope of turning me into a green-fingered goddess.
I lost count of the times he taught me how to keep an orchid alive and, despite following his advice to the letter, they always withered and died.
“It’s a mystery," Peter would say diplomatically, when “you’re utterly hopeless” would be closer to the truth.
SAY IT ISN’T PRUE
BAKE OFF judge Prue Leith says she fully expects to be cancelled at some point.
L'année dernière, she got into trouble with eating disorder campaigners for joking “is it worth the calories” when discussing contestants’ cakes.
“I had to stop doing it because everyone gets so upset and actually I think it’s all too ridiculous," elle dit.
“But I think the world will stop being silly.”
So everyone keeps saying. But when will the nonsense end?
Hirst’s escape scheme
THE 300-room stately home bought by artist Damien Hirst in 2005 has been encased in white sheeting for around a decade now with little sign of promised restoration work being finished.
Locals say they haven’t clapped eyes on its flamboyant owner for about ten years and have no idea what his plans are for Toddington Manor, UN MILLIONNAIRE a reçu l'ordre de démolir.
In which case, may I offer a solution?
In the excellent TV series Escape To The Chateau, Dick and Angel Strawbridge have done up every last inch of their once-ramshackle French home and are now on the verge of renovating wonky blades of grass.
So how about a home swap called Escape To The Manor?
Angel could paper over the cracks and Dick would knock up 300 window seats in no time.
WHEN asked “what do you do?” by strangers on a plane, novelist Anthony Horowitz says he avoids unwanted chats by replying “concrete engineer”.
The Bloke is similarly reluctant to indulge in several hours of small talk on a long-haul flight, so either smiles benignly and replies, “Jesus loves you” or, depending on his mood, “assassin” while tapping his briefcase ominously.
Party politicking is more than a little silly
DURING last January’s lockdown, over-zealous police fined two women £200 each (later rescinded) for having a “picnic” because they were carrying coffee cups for their walk in a Derbyshire park.
Donc, if carrying a coffee cup constitutes a picnic, then surely drinking alcohol – be it in the back garden of Downing Street or in a Durham constituency office during lockdown – counts as a party?
But rather than just hold their hands up and say, “you know what?
I wasn’t thinking straight and yes, it happened and I’m deeply sorry” – after which we all would have tutted and moved on – politicians of both party persuasions are tying themselves in knots trying to play down the actions of their leaders.
Did Boris Johnson attend what he thought was a work event or, as accused by former aide Dominic Cummings, did he know full well it was a party? Was Sir Keir Starmer’s beer with colleagues in breach of lockdown rules?
Their visible squirming is reminiscent of Little Britain’s Sir Norman Fry standing at the garden gate with his wife and children, dessus, while explaining to the media that he “was invited to join a group of gentlemen at a party in Brighton where I was planning to give a talk about education reform” before “my clothes accidentally fell off” and “I slipped on a glace cherry and landed inside one of the men.”
As US politician Howard Baker once said: “It is almost always the cover-up, rather than the event, that causes trouble.”
ANDY’S TEDDY BEAR COLLECTION
ONE of Prince Andrew’s former protection officers has revealed that The Queen’s second son has a collection of teddy bears arranged on a bed at Buckingham Palace and would become “verbally abusive” if staff rearranged them.
No wonder he’s still single.