Prince Harry’s relationship with actress Meghan Markle is so serious that he is poised to personally fund protection for the woman he loves.
The fifth in line to the throne is ready to hire a retired Scotland Yard Personal Protection Officer to shadow Miss Markle when she is in the UK.
Miss Markle, 35, is said to be “relaxed” about the situation and believes such a move is “charming” but unnecessary.
But Harry, 32, still haunted by the death of his mother Princess Diana while being pursued by foreign paparazzi, is understood not to want to leave his girlfriend’s personal safety to chance.
One senior inside security source said: “There have been initial discussions about this matter.
“HRH has made it clear that he believes Miss Markle’s personal safety is paramount and that the behaviour of some elements of the media and press has been grossly unacceptable.
“But in the end it comes down to a matter of cost, who is paying for what. Protecting the Royal Family is a hugely expensive business.”
There is a precedent for senior Royals hiring retired officers from the elite Scotland Yard department to watch over their loved ones.
Most notably The Prince of Wales hired his trusted former Personal Protection Officer (PP0) the late Sgt. Andy Crichton to watch over the Duchess of Cornwall when, as Camilla Parker Bowles, she was reportedly pelted with bread rolls by upset women in her local supermarket.
Another well-placed source told the Evening Standard: “Scotland Yard operates the Royal Diplomatic Department. It is an elite department of officers.
“It is therefore not cheap to run and like anywhere in the publicly funded sector they have been subject to stringent Government funding cuts.
“It means that even blood royal princesses, such as Princess Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of HRH the Duke of York, while still protected round the clock, their protection is not totally funded by the taxpayer and The Duke, their father, has to contribute to protection when they are off duty.
“Of course the mainstream Royals – The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Cambridges’ and Prince Harry all still get 24/7 Protection provided by Scotland Yard and SO14.”
Miss Markle, 35, famous for her star role in the hit TV US drama “Suits”, has been dating Prince Harry for around two months and has been staying with him at Kensington Palace recently.
Last week, Prince Harry instructed Kensington Palace to issue an unprecedented statement confirming their relationship and attacking “abuse and harassment” his girlfriend was being subjected to.
Princess Diana’s former Personal Protection Officer Inspector Ken Wharfe, now a security consultant and best-selling author, told The London Evening Standard: “It is extremely unlikely that Scotland Yard would fund protection for Miss Markle at this stage.
“In America and Canada where she lives she is well used to the attention she gets as a star actress.
“But nothing can prepare a person, even a Hollywood actor, for the attention they get once they are associated seriously with or a member of the British Royal Family, especially if you are in the sights of the paparazzi and the tabloid press.
“The bottom line is if it is believed that Miss Markle is a serious contender to be Prince Harry’s bride then of course the reporters and photographers of the Press will do their job. That is fair enough.