Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and her husband Prince Harry faced “disgusting and very real” threats from right-wing extremists, a former counterterrorism police chief has said.
In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 News on Tuesday, Neil Basu said the threats against Meghan were serious and credible enough that authorities had assigned teams to investigate them.
“If you’d seen the stuff that was written, and you were receiving it … you would feel under threat all of the time,” said Basu, who was in charge of royal protection during his time at the Metropolitan Police.
“People have been prosecuted for those threats,” said the former Met assistant commissioner.
Since news of her relationship with Prince Harry broke in 2016, Meghan has been subjected to harsh criticism in the British press. In particular, the UK tabloids have faced allegations that their negative coverage of Meghan fueled racist attacks against her.
The racist bullying on social media became so intense during her first pregnancy that the royal staff was put on high alert, beefing up its own digital presence to filter out hateful comments, including use of the n-word and emojis of guns and knives.
The couple said that the racial abuse Meghan faced was a major factor that drove them to move to the United States and step back as senior members of the royal family.
In the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, Prince Harry said he felt the palace was not doing enough publicly to combat the continued racial abuse in the press.
Harry is currently in a legal dispute with the Home Office regarding the family’s security arrangements when they visit the UK.
The threats against the royal couple came amid a rise in right-wing extremism in Britain, according to Basu.
Basu said in his interview that during his tenure, extreme right-wing terrorism was the fastest-growing threat facing the country, going from 6% of the counterterroism department’s workload in 2015 to more than 20% at the time of his departure more than a year ago.
Basu, who is mixed-race, said he believes the Home Office needs to do more to tackle institutional racism.
“I’ve been the only non-White face as a chief officer for a very long time,” he said. “I don’t think the Home Office cares about this subject at all.”
The Home Office said in a statement to CNN that UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman expects police forces in the country to “take a zero tolerance approach to racism within their workplace.”
“We are actively pushing for a cultural change in the police, including via a targeted review of police dismissals to ensure officers who are not fit to serve can be swiftly removed,” a spokesperson for the Home Office said.