[Note: This post went live two hours before the Sussexes’ announcement about their 2020 plans. You can catch up on that here.]
British tabloid The Sun is reporting that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seriously considering a more permanent move to Canada after the success of their six-week break. According to sources on background described as “friends,” the couple might leave the UK while still carrying out royal duties and maintaining staff based at Buckingham Palace. On the table is the possibility that they will drop their HRHs.
The first quote says:
“It is true that Harry and Meghan will spend a fair amount of time in Canada over the next couple of months and possibly going forward too. Right now they are starting talks with their family about their plans for the future. Those conversations are at a very early stage. There is a very careful and serious process to go through which they are going to respect. But it is clear they are on a different and unique path, and they are very much thinking about what the future looks like for them.
“That could include being based in Canada or the possibility of walking away from their HRH titles, although hopefully it will not come to that. It’s been a very tough year — they’re newlyweds and they have a young baby — so they’re looking at what their life looks like in the future. Everything is on the table.
“They have a lot of friends there. Meghan feels comfortable and at home there because she lived there for seven years before meeting Harry. They very much enjoyed their time over Christmas and New Year where they weren’t pictured once and were left alone. They took a genuine break over Christmas. But they are back working and planning the launch of the Sussex Royal Foundation and Sunshine Sachs are involved in that.”
Another quote from someone described as a “pal,” who may be a different person from the one quoted above, said:
“They are back to work. They have nothing to hide and have got so much good work to do. But it has been made very clear by the institution that the Sussexes are not central to the future plan. Just look at the picture released last week of the Queen with the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and George.”
Let’s address this bit by bit. I do think a move out of the UK is a definite possibility. Some of that comes from the fact that The Sun has repeatedly broken royal news over the last few years, and some of that comes from the fact that this isn’t the first time such a change has been raised. Last year there were rumors that the couple was considering a long-term residency somewhere in Africa, or that they might purchase a home is Los Angeles and split their time between there and London. So, yes, I do think it very likely at this point that Harry and Meghan are considering options that might take them out of the UK for a few years, or at least several months.
If they do, I think it stands to reason that it will be a Commonwealth country, so Canada would be a strong option given their familiarity with the region. I also don’t think that’s a big deal or should be viewed as a rejection of England. Remember, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge lived in Wales from 2010-2013, while maintaining a London residence. And even after taking up at Kensington Palace, they were primarily in Norfolk from 2014-2017. If the Sussexes make such a jump, it will likely be further away than Wales, but there’s no question that they wouldn’t still keep and use their Frogmore Cottage home. Keeping out of the greater London area (and I’m including Windsor in this because the couple still works primarily in London) affords greater privacy, yes, but setting up camp in a country like Canada would also be in keeping with their more globally-focused roles within the Commonwealth.
What would be a mistake, I think, is to view this as exile or indicative of a split between the Sussexes and the Royal Family. Way too much is being read into the photos on the Queen’s desk during her Christmas address, and there’s nothing shocking in the notion that the monarchy’s future plans are focused on the Princes of Wales and the Cambridges. Of course they are – Charles and William are future kings, while Harry and Meghan will always be supporting players. That doesn’t mean Harry and Meghan are being forced out, and it’s naive to think this dynamic is upsetting or surprising to Harry. He has always been the “spare” to the “heir.”
I would also point out that while long-term residency abroad is newer to modern generations of the Royal Family, it’s hardly unprecedented. Several of George III’s son spent significant time out of England, primarily living in Germany or elsewhere in Europe. Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, lived in Canada with her husband, the Marquess of Lorne, while he was serving as Canada’s Governor General. From George V on, the Royal Family became more domestically-anchored, however during the 1970s the idea that Charles might move to Australia was seriously bandied about for a while.
Of course what complicates this narrative are the remarks Harry and Meghan made during their ITV documentary last year. Obviously they are struggling with their royal roles, and clearly there are facets of royal life – mainly the negative media coverage from British titles – that are making things difficult right now. Thus, it will be hard not to relate a move back to their own disclosed unhappiness…and such is why I believe that documentary was a mistake.
But as of right now, all of this just conjecture and I think that’s important to keep in mind. Meghan drives headlines and there are apparently sources either within their staff or among their personal friends who are willing to speak to the press. But this information isn’t coming from Harry and Meghan, who as of right now have done nothing expect return from holiday and pick work back up. So, let’s take a deep breath and wait and see.
In the meantime, Meghan was photographed visiting another of her patronages today – The National Theatre. The visit was private, and as such there are no official photos or news coming out of the trip. You can see the images caught by paparazzi here. While new engagements have been announced for Harry, we’re still waiting to hear when we’ll see Meghan next, but I doubt we’ll be waiting long.
And on the Cambridge front, Kensington Palace announced two new engagements for William and Kate. Next Wednesday the couple will do an “away day” in Bradford, and on the 20th, they will host a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the UK-Africa Investment Summit. That they were given such a responsibility by the Queen is being read by many that Africa might be the location of their next tour, and I hope that speculation is correct. While William has been there in an official capacity before, Kate has not, but we know that Kenya was the site of their engagement in October 2010 and I think it would be lovely to see them in the region as duke and duchess.
With that, happy Wednesday 🙂