Harry and Meghan shut U.K. home — is Canada ready for them?

Harry and Meghan shut U.K. home -- is Canada ready for them?


More and more it has become clear that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle didn’t think through some significant issues before making their sudden announcement that they were quitting their jobs as senior British royals and looking to split their time between the U.K. and Canada.

In fact, amid new reports that they are starting to see Canada as more than just a part-time home, Canadians and their government are grappling with a host of complications related to their security costs and immigration status, but mostly having to do with their constitution and their country’s historically “delicate”  relationship with the royal family.

An editorial in Canada’s The Globe and Mail, addressing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s hope to resettle in Canada, bluntly said: “You are welcome to visit, but so long as you are senior royals, Canada cannot allow you to come to stay.”

Speculation grew this week that Harry and Meghan don’t intend to spend any meaningful time in the U.K. in the near future. It follows reports that Frogmore Cottage, their home on the grounds of Windsor Castle, is being “shuttered” and its staff being “redeployed,” The Guardian said.

On their newly expanded website, the couple said last week that they planned to retain the mansion as their official U.K. residence. But CNN also reported that Meghan had changed her mind about returning to the U.K. any time soon.

Indeed, photos in the Daily Mail show that Meghan is savoring her escape from what a friend described as a “toxic” and “soul-crushing” existence in the royal family.

Meghan has been seen keeping busy in and around the $14 million mansion on Vancouver Island where she, Harry and baby son Archie stayed over their extended holiday break. On Tuesday, the American former TV actress visited a women’s shelter in Vancouver and, on Thursday, she was photographed driving herself to the airport to pick up an L.A.-based friend, who also happens to be her former pilates instructor, the Daily Mail reported.

These photos and the shuttering of Frogmore Cottage, which the couple only moved into last spring after $3 million in taxpayer-funded renovations, are “the surest sign yet the couple will settle permanently in Canada with the duchess strongly rumored never to return,” the Daily Mail said.

But it’s not that simple for Harry and Meghan to up and decide they want to live in Canada. Indeed, they and the royal family, who have signed on to their Canada plan, “might have overestimated the willingness of the Canadians to have an unemployed prince and his wife on their hands,” the Daily Beast said.

First of all, there are the security costs, which could amount to more than $10 million annually, a security expert told The Globe and Mail.

A majority of Canadians polled have emphatically said they don’t want taxpayers to pick up the tab. In the poll released by the Angus Reid Institute, 73 per cent of Canadians said they “were not on board” with covering any costs for Harry and Meghan’s relocation to Canada, even though Harry and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, are personally popular, especially with monarchists and celebrity watchers.

Another issue is the couple’s immigration status. As British royals, they are British citizens, and there is no provision under Canadian law to confer Canadian citizenship to members of the royal family, the New York Times reported. That means they can’t expect special treatment and are no different from “any other prospective newcomers,” The Globe and Mail reported.

They will have “to apply for permanent residency under a points system weighing their skills and education,” The Globe and Mail added.

The “skills and education” part could be tricky for Harry, given that Canada wants permanent residents who have specialized skills or high levels of education, the New York Times said. Harry’s employer for much of his life has been his own family and he doesn’t have a college degree, a “major stumbling block,” a Toronto immigration lawyer told the Times.

But the real rub is that their desire to live in Canada presents a “critical test” of the royal family’s “delicate” role in Canada, The Globe and Mail said.

The Canadian and British monarchies are separate entities that happen to be headed by the same person — Queen Elizabeth, the  Globe and Mail explained. This is also the case in more than a dozen other Commonwealth realms, such as Australia and New Zealand,  where she also is the head of state.

But this head-of-state role doesn’t extend to the queen’s heirs. While Prince William and Kate Middleton may pay a royal visit to Canada, he’s not considered a Canadian prince because there is no separate system of aristocratic titles in Canada. “Their titles and roles are British,” The Globe and Mail said.

Canada long ago asserted its independence from the British crown in other ways: by appointing a Canadian governors-general and lieutenant-governors to serve as the geographically distant queen’s representatives and to perform her traditional duties, such as opening parliament.

“Having a British prince perform royal duties from a Canadian home base could raise complicated protocol questions about who should take precedence and who is acting on the queen’s behalf,” The Globe and Mail explained.

The newspaper’s editorial was more blunt in saying that princes can’t be shipped over to Canada “when no useful duties can be found for them on the other side of the Atlantic.”

If Harry and Meghan were just ordinary citizens — Harry and Meghan Sussex — they would be welcome, but not with Harry being sixth in line to the British throne, the editorial said.


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