Phone prank shows Harry and Meghan are vulnerable outside Royal Family – expert

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 11:  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex s handed a phone as he attends the 15th annual BGC Charity Day, on September 11, 2019 in London, England. The annual day is to commemorate the 658 Cantor Fitzgerald and the 61 EuroBrokers employees who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Harry was duped by callers pretending to be Greta Thunberg. (Getty Images)

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.”

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London, Britain March 9, 2020. Phil Harris/Pool via REUTERS
Meghan and Harry on their last official engagement, with William and Kate. (Reuters)

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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”.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive to attend The Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall in London on March 7, 2020. - The Festival brings together world-class musicians, composers and conductors of the Massed Bands of Her Majestys Royal Marines. This year, the performance will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the 80th anniversary of the formation of Britains Commandos. (Photo by Eddie MULHOLLAND / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EDDIE MULHOLLAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The last royal duties reflected their passions, including Harry's devotion to the military. (Getty Images)

Read more: Prince Harry holds UK meetings as Meghan jets back to Canada

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.

Pierre Brassard hoaxed the Queen in Canada. (Getty Images)

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.”

Read more: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle share previously unseen photo of meeting with young leaders

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12:  Australian DJ Mel Greig leaves The  Royal Courts of Justice on September 12, 2014 in London, England. An inquest into the death of Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse who worked at the Edward VII hospital when she took a prank call from Australian DJs, has ruled that she took her own life.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Australian DJ Mel Greig was one of those who pranked Jacintha Saldanha. (Getty Images)

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.