Canada turns on Meghan and Harry



O Canada!

Our home and native land!

True patriot love in all of us command …

So starts the Canadian national anthem which some lucky royal secretary would be wise to start teaching Prince Harry right now after the Queen gave he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, permission to trade grey and cold Britain for grey and snowy Canada.

It is less than seven days since the headstrong duo triggered the biggest royal crisis of a generation after they broke ranks and spectacularly announced they were quitting as "senior royals".

Tuesday morning this week saw the Queen put out a truly extraordinary and poignant statement, saying: "Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family."

The upshot seemed simple enough - Harry just needed a one-way ticket to Vancouver and to learn to love poutine and they were good to go on their shiny new life (Meghan beat a hasty retreat out of the UK last week and is now back ensconced in the $20 million mansion they have borrowed on Vancouver Island).

However, maybe the couple shouldn't be breaking out their maple leaf onesies just yet with a series of developments suggesting that the Sussexes might face a frostier reception in the Commonwealth country than previously thought.

Meghan and Harry have waved goodbye to his home country. Picture: AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File
Meghan and Harry have waved goodbye to his home country. Picture: AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File

To start with, there is the vexed and still unresolved issue of who will pick up the huge tab for their security team.

Until now, Harry and Meghan have been guarded by six armed officers from the Metropolitan Police's specialist VIP protection unit, at a cost to taxpayers of a reported $1.1 million per year (and that's before you factor in any other elements, such as the special Range Rovers shipped from Britain to South Africa for last year's tour.) When the duo have travelled, like for all members of the royal family, those costs rise. For example, the Daily Mail has reported that 10 officers were needed for Harry and Meghan's Canadian sabbatical late last year with the extra staff having to be flown in from the UK.

Given that the Sussexes are no longer full-time members of the royal family, with huge questions marks swirling over whether they will keep their styling as HRHs and whether they will undertake any duties on behalf of Her Majesty in the future, British taxpayers have signalled they are loathe to keep footing this seven-figure bill.

In a poll conducted over the weekend, 73 per cent of respondents said they did not think Harry and Meghan should continue to receive taxpayer-funded security support.

While initial reports suggested that Canadian Government was fine and dandy to take care of the couple's security costs while they were in the country - PM Justin Trudeau himself insinuated Canada would be happy to pick up the couple's tab - that now appears to be wide off the mark.

Bill Morneau, the country's Finance Minister, has said the officials had not decided if they would pick up the Sussexes' security tab.

All of which comes before the reluctance of ordinary Canadians to be lumped with this expense came to light. Aaron Wudrick, director of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, has told the Telegraph: "I don't think it's reasonable to expect us to pay for everything the way we do for a royal visit. If they're going to make Canada a second home, a good step in the right direction would be to pay for at least part of it, and not rely on taxpayers to fund their entire lifestyle."


However, the Commonwealth country's qualms about welcoming Harry and Meghan as locals goes beyond the cost. An editorial in the Globe and Mail, which is billed as Canada's national newspaper, has come out staunchly against the duo - if they remain tied to the royal family professionally - setting up shop there.

"Canada is not a halfway house for anyone looking to get out of Britain while remaining a royal," the editorial reads. "If they were ordinary private citizens, plain old Harry and Meghan from Sussex, they would be welcome.

"But this country's unique monarchy, and its delicate yet essential place in our constitutional system, means that a royal resident - the Prince is sixth in the line of succession - is not something that Canada can allow. It breaks an unspoken constitutional taboo."

Lastly, the question remains about whether Canada will genuinely offer them the refuge and haven they seem to believe it will.

Today, shots of Meghan boarding a sea plane emerged, highlighting the increased paparazzi frenzy they face in their new country. It later emerged she had made an appearance at a women's centre to "discuss issues affecting women in the community" with a picture from the engagement was shared on the centre's Facebook page.

While Fleet Street is widely cast as some sort of rapacious beast hounding poor HRHs interminably, consider the scant handful of occasions that Meghan has actually been photographed outside of official events since she moved to London more than two years ago.

The royal couple might be about to get more than they bargained for. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The royal couple might be about to get more than they bargained for. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Given she is one of the most famous people in the world this is truly extraordinary. That relative luxury room is now totally up for grabs and it is a safe bet that every photo agency, newspaper and magazine in the world is right now flying in an army of photographers and reporters to stake out the Sussexes' current luxury hide-out.

This Friday marks one year since Prince Philip memorably took his Land Rover for a spin and ended up making global headlines. At the time it seemed like quite the royal scandal. Twelve months on, I bet the Queen wishes the biggest headache she had to deal with was her obstinate husband getting behind the wheel.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years experience working for a number of Australia's leading media titles.

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