Inside the small, coastal Canadian community that’s abuzz over Harry and Meghan’s possible move there


Towns on the southern end of Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast are abuzz with interest over the possibility that Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will become semi-permanent residents there.

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The North Saanich property where Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spent the holidays in 2019.
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Kevin Light/Reuters

In early January the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sparked an uproar on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean when they said that they would be stepping back from their senior roles in the British royal family.


Queen Elizabeth released a personal statement days after Harry and Meghan’s announcement, in which she shared her support for their decision and confirmed that the couple would be splitting their time between Canada and the UK.

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Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
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Toby Melville/Reuters

According to media reports, Prince Harry, Meghan, and their son, Archie, have since traveled to the Saanich Peninsula, a part of Vancouver Island just north of British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, an area where the family took a six-week vacation at the end of 2019.

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Google Maps

Canadians have had mixed reactions around the Royals’ potential relocation to their country.

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The North Saanich property where Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spent the holidays in 2019.
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Kevin Light/Reuters

Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail, published an opinion piece saying that the couple are not welcome to stay permanently and that their relocation would break “an unspoken constitutional taboo” should Harry’s royalty status disrupt Canada’s unique monarchy.

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Prince Harry and Meghan.
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Reuters

Source: Business Insider


A former royal bodyguard raised further concerns regarding security for the couple, saying that their required private security detail would be expensive.

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The North Saanich property where Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex,
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Kevin Light/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


But some North Saanich locals say they’re simply intrigued by the idea and wish the couple the best.

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Kevin Light/REUTERS

“I wouldn’t call myself a (royal) follower until they come into town, and then, of course, it piques our interest,” Joan Wilson, a resident of Sidney, on the Saanich Peninsula, said.

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The North Saanich property where Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spent the holidays in 2019.
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Kevin Light/Reuters

Towns on the peninsula, which have long been popular with retirees thanks to its laid-back pace of life and proximity to the British Columbia mainland, mostly have fewer than 20,000 residents and are filled with ocean-themed gift shops and fish-and-chip huts.

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Fish on Fifth in Sidney, British Columbia.
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Ken L.

The couple have captured residents’ fascination since their vacation in the area, which has “a really interesting mix of very wealthy people and middle-class people,” said North Saanich resident Beth Doman. “There’s a lot of hidden mansions, so we were all trying to figure out where they were staying.”

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The North Saanich property where Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spent the holidays in 2019.
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Kevin Light/Reuters

Despite the curiosity, some locals say they are determined to give them privacy, with many residents declining to speak to reporters on the record.

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The North Saanich property where Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spent the holidays in 2019.
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Kevin Light/Reuters

“The last thing they want is mobs of people coming around and taking their picture,” said Ron Buschgens, owner of Lolly Gobble Sweet Shop in Sidney. “That would start to settle down as people got used to the idea of them being here.”

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The North Saanich property where Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spent the holidays in 2019.
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Kevin Light/Reuters

“Harry’s mother died because of all the attention that was on her and it was very tragic,” Sidney resident Lynn Salituro said, referring to the late Princess Diana. “I’m sure they just want to break away and have a safe haven and somewhere they can live a normal life.”

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The North Saanich property where Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spent the holidays in 2019.
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Kevin Light/Reuters

Reporting by Chad Hipolito in North Saanich, British Columbia; Additional reporting by David Albright in North Saanich; Writing by Moira Warburton; Editing by Peter Cooney.

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