Phone prank shows Harry and Meghan are vulnerable outside Royal Family – expert
Prince Harry falling foul of pranksters shows he is more vulnerable outside the royal system, a former press secretary to the Queen has said.
The Duke of Sussex was duped into speaking about his decision to leave his role as a senior member of the Royal Family, as well as issues like Donald Trump and climate change.
Dickie Arbiter, who used to work for the Queen, said the fact that hoaxers were able to get through to Harry indicates some of the difficulties he will face outside the palace walls.
Speaking about their life in Canada, the royal expert told the PA news agency: “As long as Harry and Meghan are over there, they’re out of the protection of the system – and for all its faults, the system does, and is there, to protect.
“If they were at Buckingham Palace, it wouldn’t have happened. They wouldn’t have got through the switchboard. They’re pretty vigilant.”
He added: “If you’re outside the system, you’re open to anything and everything. Unfortunately, he got nabbed not once, but twice.”
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The duke was pranked by Russian duo Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, known as Vovan and Lexus, who called him when he was at his home on Vancouver Island.
The pranksters confirmed to Yahoo News UK that the calls were made on New Year’s Day and three weeks later on 22 January.
The palace has not commented on the calls.
Arbiter suggested: “If it is Harry in the phone calls, I would think he will be feeling angry.”
But he added: “If you look at the sort of other people who have been hoaxed, he’s in pretty good company.”
During the two recorded phone calls, Prince Harry told how he was “completely separate from the majority” of his family, The Sun revealed.
He also claimed that US President Donald Trump has “blood on his hands”.
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Prince Harry is reported to be in the UK for a few more days, following his final appearance alongside his wife at the Commonwealth Day Service, but Meghan is thought to have gone back to Canada where they left their son Archie.
It’s not the first time someone has got through to a member of the Royal Family by posing as a public figure.
In 1995, Canadian DJ Pierre Brassard, pretending to be Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien, was put through to the Queen. In that case, the monarch was also in Canada.
Singer Sir Elton John, a friend of the duke’s, is among the celebrities who have been tricked by the same notorious pranksters.
Harry told the prankster he had not been “stripped” of his royal title, but had been asked not to use them because of a “technicality” within the family.
He also said the US president had “blood on his hands” because he is “pushing the coal industry so big in America”.
However he dodged making any comments about his uncle, Prince Andrew’s relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
He said: “But whatever he has done or hasn’t done, is completely separate from me and my wife. We operate in a way of inclusivity and we are focusing on community. And so we are completely separate from the majority of my family.”
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When the Queen spoke to a DJ instead of the Canadian PM, the pair chatted for around 15 minutes and he even managed to elicit a promise that she would try to influence Quebec’s referendum on proposals to break away from Canada.
Diana, Princess of Wales was hoaxed by broadcaster Victor Lewis-Smith, who posed as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.
In 2012, a nurse who was treating the Duchess of Cambridge while she was pregnant took her own life after being duped by hoaxers.
Jacintha Saldanha had been tricked by two Australian radio DJs who impersonated the Queen and the Prince of Wales into giving a condition update on Kate, who was suffering severe morning sickness at a private hospital.