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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are being protected by a bodyguard who watched over two American presidents.
The Invictus Games competition for wounded service personnel and veterans opened Saturday night in the Netherlands with a standing ovation and a tribute from the Duke of Sussex to the Ukrainian team members, who temporarily left their war-torn nation to compete. The Duchess of Sussex was by her husband’s side for the opening ceremony.
Harry founded the Invictus Games to aid the rehabilitation of injured or sick military service members and veterans by giving them the chance, and the challenge, to compete in sports events similar to the Paralympics.
It was the couple’s first public appearance since stepping back as senior members of the British royal family two years ago, and during the event they were watched over by Christopher Sanchez, a former U.S. Secret Service agent who spent five years under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, according the U.K. Times.
PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE ALL SMILES WHILE RIDING MINIATURE LAND ROVERS AT INVICTUS GAMES EVENT
Sanchez currently works for a company that offers tailored security packages to wealthy clients, including business executives and diplomats.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex flew into the U.K. from California with their bodyguard last week and made a private visit to Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Thursday.
Sanchez was one of up to five bodyguards protecting the couple at the Invictus Games in the Netherlands this weekend. Sanchez, in particular, was seen watching over Harry, 37, and Markle, 40, as they participated in the Land Rover Challenge on Saturday. The close protection expert also guarded a British Embassy tent while the duchess took part in a reading class with competitors.
In 2020, Sanchez appeared on the “Always Moving Forward” podcast and described what it was like working under the Bush and Obama administrations. He said both experiences were career highlights.
“Secret Service agents are the best in the world at what we do,” said Sanchez.
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Sanchez also explained that one of his many roles is to ensure that travel routes and locations are safe, a task he referred to as a “logistical monster.”
According to the outlet, Sanchez’s career kicked off in 1996 when he served as a police officer in Houston, Texas. Three years later, he moved to the Secret Service. Sanchez joined the presidential protection detail for the last two and a half years of Bush’s presidency. Afterward, he took part in the transition as the Obamas entered the White House in 2009.
Sanchez left the Secret Service in 2013 and then worked with professional services firm PwC. The outlet shared that he’s now the director of TorchStone, a security company that promises to “reduce our clients’ risk before something bad happens.” Sanchez is also listed as a director at the Texas-based Professional Protection and Investigations.
The Invictus Games are being held in The Hague through April 22. It was reported that the duchess would only stay for a few days and then return to the couple’s two children in California.
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In February, lawyers for Harry told a court hearing that he was unwilling to bring his children to his homeland because it is not safe. The prince launched a legal challenge to the U.K. government’s refusal to let him personally pay for police protection in Britain.
At the time, Harry’s legal team said he wants to bring his son Archie and daughter Lilibet to his home country from the United States but thinks it would be too risky without police protection.
Senior members of Britain’s royal family are given taxpayer-funded police protection, but Harry lost that when he and Markle stepped down as working royals and moved to the United States in 2020. The couple said their decision was due to what they described as unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media.
Harry noted that his private security team in the U.S. doesn’t have adequate jurisdiction abroad or access to U.K. intelligence information.
PRINCE HARRY, MEGHAN MARKLE MAKE FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE IN EUROPE SINCE STEPPING BACK AS SENIOR ROYALS
During a hearing at the High Court in London, Harry’s lawyer, Shaheed Fatima, said the prince “does not feel safe when he is in the U.K. given the security arrangements applied to him.”
“It goes without saying that he does want to come back to see family and friends and to continue to support the charities that are so close to his heart,” she said. “Most of all, this is and always will be, his home.”
A lawyer representing the British government, Robert Palmer, called Harry’s claim “unarguable and unmeritorious.”
Palmer said in a written submission that Harry’s offer to pay for police security was irrelevant because “personal protective security by the police is not available on a privately financed basis.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.