Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have reportedly hired Michael Jackson’s former bodyguard as the head of their security team as the Duke of Sussex was pictured with his new right-hand man on a bike ride in the California sun. The Duke of Sussex left his wife Meghan, son Archie and daughter Lilibet at their £10million mansion and hit the road on a $1,499 (£1,080) electric bike followed by a security team in a 4×4 as he pedalled through Montecito.
Newly released pictures show Alberto Alvarez, 45, who testified at the 2011 trial into Michael Jackson’s death and called 911 on the night the pop legend died in 2009, riding directly behind Harry earlier this week. Alvarez, who has 15 years of experience in personal protection and event security, has also previously worked for boyband One Direction.
One security source told the Sun of the appointment: ‘Alberto has worked with the biggest celebrities so knows every trick in the book of keeping them out of harm’s way. ‘He is discreet and was extremely loyal to Michael. He and Harry seem like a good match and Harry hopes he’s the man to look after him and his family.’
Alvarez, who has worked out of the luxurious Beverly Hills, California since 2010, describes himself as having a ‘track record of scoping, prioritizing, planning, and implementing appropriate safety/security measures to secure personnel and valuable assets across various environments’, on his LinkedIn page. Harry, wearing trainers, a hooded top, shorts, a baseball cap featuring the word ‘California’ and sunglasses, looked relaxed as he took to the streets on his bike alongside two members of his security teams.
The prince was seen whizzing along on his electric bike and he was not wearing a helmet – under Californian state law, only under-18s are required to wear one. As he hit the road, 5,400 miles away in Britain Prince William was visiting the Royal Marsden Hospital in London where he met with doctors and praised ‘brave and inspirational’ cancer campaigner Deborah James.
Harry’s appearance comes days before he is set to be reunited with his family for the first time in a year as he and Meghan Markle travel to the UK for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next weekend. It comes after an expert warned the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could ‘destabilise’ the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and cause resentment among other members of the Royal Family. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will receive widespread publicity when they arrive in the UK with their children Archie, three, and Lilibet, who turns one over the Platinum Jubilee weekend.
But Palace aides will do all they can to prevent a Sussex ‘sideshow’ overshadowing the Queen, 96, and the official celebrations, explained Camilla Tominey of the Daily Telegraph. The attention the Sussexes receive could also cause resentment among members of the family like Sophie Wessex and Princess Anne who work ‘day in, day out’ but could be overlooked by the press and public. ‘You can include the Sussexes but you don’t want there to be some sort of Harry and Meghan sideshow going on when the main event must be the Queen,’ Tominey explained.
‘The Palace has a degree of control over Harry and Meghan while they’re in the confines of Buckingham Palace and the confines of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations official, but there’s nothing to stop them freelancing and doing their own thing while they’re in the UK. ‘Of course, if they’re going to be seen out and about with their children, it’s going to generate publicity.’ She continued: ‘Equally, there will be other members of the Royal Family who are doing the daily grind who will resent being overshadowed by Harry and Meghan, even if they don’t admit it. ‘You’re not going to want to have the likes of Princess Anne and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, for instance, who, day in day out, plant trees, unveil plaques and go to the opening of royal envelopes, only to have the media focus completely on Harry and Meghan who aren’t playing a role at all in the so-called family Firm.’
The Sussexes are expected to take part in elements of the festivities but will not join the Queen and senior royals including Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the Buckingham Palace balcony following Trooping the Colour. The invitation has only been extended to working members of the Royal Family, meaning Prince Andrew and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie will also not be in attendance. Tominey noted there could be some chilliness between the Sussexes and the Cambridges as relations between the two couples remain ‘distant’.
She noted Charles is ‘sad’ and William is ‘angry and sad’ about Harry’s behaviour since quitting the royal family but that ‘brave faces will be put on proceedings,’ as they were at Prince Philip’s funeral. The royal expert continued: ‘The most interesting addition to the proceedings is Meghan. Previously we have seen Harry by himself in the UK and now the Duchess will come back into the fold. The body language and the reading of it is going to be quite fascinating.’
However she insisted the focus for all camps will be on ensuring the Queen remains ‘front and centre’ of all proceedings. There cannot be any ‘briefings’ from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s team hinting at any discontent between the family members. She added: ‘The main priority for all the members of the royal family is, as it always has been, the Queen and making sure she isn’t overshadowed.
‘Nobody is going to ingratiate themselves with the public in the UK or overseas if they overshadow our 96-year-old monarch on the most momentous and historic weekend of her reign.’ Claims emerged over the weekend that Prince Harry’s controversial tell-all memoir has been delayed, after it was reported the tome has not been given an official release date yet.
Plans for the 37-year-old’s ‘intimate and heartfelt’ book were announced last year, when its publisher said it was ‘tentatively scheduled for late 2022’. The confusion over the release date comes as the Sunday Times reported yesterday that the Sussexes have parted company with their global press secretary, Toya Holness – which would make her the latest of at least 12 of their top staff to leave since 2018.
Miss Holness, who joined the couple’s Archewell organisation in October 2020, has been described as ‘Meghan’s shadow’ and was reportedly one of a small band of officials who spoke to Harry and Meghan on a daily basis.
Last year it was revealed that Harry had signed a deal with publisher Penguin Random House, and he has reportedly been working with a ghost-writer, the novelist John Moehringer. Harry had said he was writing ‘not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become’, revealing he wanted to include ‘the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned’.
Sources said the memoir would have attracted a multi-million-pound advance, although Harry has said he will donate the proceeds to charity. A Random House spokesman declined to comment on the publication date, and did not confirm if it would still be released this year. A source told the Sunday Times there was ‘some uncertainty’ over the release date.