TORONTO — Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s decision to “step back” from royal duties and make North America their part-time home has spurred much speculation about where the royals will settle.
Not surprisingly, Canadian cities are high on the list of possibilities, especially given the couple’s decision to spend Christmas and New Year’s in the Great White North.
Hours before the announcement, rumours emerged online and in tabloids that the duo were planning a move to Canada, which Buckingham Palace refused to comment on.
But there are plenty of reasons such a move would make sense, aside from the fact it allows the royals to remain residents of the Commonwealth. Before marrying Prince Harry, the actress formerly known as Meghan Markle spent seven years living in Toronto while filming the TV series, “Suits,” and was a prominent celebrity champion of local hotspots and fashion brands.
Of course, it can’t be discounted that Meghan was born in California, where her mother Doria Ragland lives. Could the Duchess of Sussex be lured back to the Golden State to raise baby Archie near his maternal grandmother?
The royals’ sparse statement Wednesday offers few clues, other than the assurance that they will maintain their duty to “The Queen, the Commonwealth and our patronages.”
Canada would seem to be an ideal spot for such efforts. Here’s a look at the couple’s various ties to Canada:
MEGHAN HEARTS TORONTO
There’s no doubt Toronto made an impression on the Duchess of Sussex during her “Suits” days — her residency was marked by social media shoutouts to favourite restaurants and hangouts, and she reportedly volunteered at a local soup kitchen.
By 2016, Meghan was practically an honorary Canadian thanks to being named the promotional face of the long-established wardrobe retailer Reitmans, for which she designed a capsule collection, and the Christian charity World Vision Canada.
Harry, too, has displayed a fondness for Toronto during his visits, which included the time the city hosted his beloved Invictus Games for wounded military personnel in September 2017.
CANADIANS HAVE RESPECTED THEIR PRIVACY
Toronto resident Tiffany Babiak recalled a sudden preponderance of black SUVs in her normally quiet downtown neighbourhood when Prince Harry confirmed the romance in late 2016.
Media scrutiny of the tree-lined enclave where Meghan lived exploded, Babiak said in an interview before the couple’s wedding in 2018.
Nevertheless, she said neighbours closed ranks and kept mum on anything they’d seen of the couple, ensuring they’d have as much privacy as possible under the circumstances: “Everyone got very protective of her because it was just like, it’s our neighbourhood, and we didn’t want these kind of paparazzi driving around and harassing anybody,” says Babiak said at the time.
THEY HAVE FRIENDS IN TORONTO
Meghan is said to have close pals in Toronto, including Soho House consultant Markus Anderson, who was among those rumoured to have introduced the duo. Then there’s bestie stylist Jessica Mulroney, wife of TV personality and former prime minister’s son Ben Mulroney.
According to “Harry: Life, Loss and Love,” a biography by royal author Katie Nicholl, the couple hid out at the Mulroney home after news of their relationship broke, and Harry and Ben Mulroney supposedly bonded over Mulroney’s memories of meeting Princess Diana, Harry’s mother, as a child.
Jessica Mulroney held a prominent role in the royal wedding, with the Mulroneys’ twin sons notably among the page boys at the star-studded nuptials.
THEY (APPARENTLY) SPENT THE HOLIDAYS IN BC
The decision to celebrate a Canuck Christmas and ring in a Maple Leaf-tinged New Year reportedly took Harry, Meghan and baby Archie to the other end of the country — British Columbia’s majestic mountains and clear waters are on full display behind Prince Harry’s New Year’s greeting on Instagram.
Their first official duty upon their return to the U.K. was a visit to Canada House in London, where Harry reportedly joked about a soggy vacation on Vancouver Island, but gushed in a statement about “the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2020.
The Canadian Press