OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will no longer help with “security assistance” after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle retire as working royals, the office of Canada’s public safety minister confirmed Thursday.
A statement, first reported by CBC News, confirmed that cost-sharing arrangement between the federal police force and the Metropolitan Police in the U.K. will end “in the coming weeks” in synchronicity with the end of the Duke and Duchess’ royal duties on March 31. The couple have been on Vancouver Island on a part-time basis since November, but have been formally living there since January.
The full statement from the public safety minister’s office reads:
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing to relocate to Canada on a part-time basis presented our government with a unique and unprecedented set of circumstances. The RCMP has been engaged with officials in the U.K. from the very beginning regarding security considerations.
“As the Duke and Duchess are currently recognized as Internationally Protected Persons, Canada has an obligation to provide security assistance on an as needed basis. At the request of the Metropolitan Police, the RCMP has been providing assistance to the Met since the arrival of the Duke and Duchess to Canada intermittently since November 2019. The assistance will cease in the coming weeks, in keeping with their change in status.
The Duke and Duchess’ desire to live more independent lives based from Vancouver Island, and to have their finances no longer reliant on public funds, has caused tremendous discussion how such an arrangement could work as members of the Royal Family.
Members of the Royal Family are considered Internationally Protected Persons, a class of individuals afforded “special protections” under international law.
The statement from the public safety minister’s office settles questions about if Harry and Meghan would still be considered Internationally Protected Persons as private citizens living in Canada.
“This is a tremendous victory for Canadian taxpayers and the Trudeau government for doing the right thing. Canadians were unequivocal that the Duke and Duchess are welcome here, but that they need to pay their own way,” said Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, in a statement following the news.
The advocacy group had launched a petition protesting the idea that taxpayers should be on the hook for security costs for the soon-to-be ex-royals.
“We wish the Duke and Duchess all the best as they embark on their new, financially independent life in Canada,” Wudrick said.
The RCMP did not respond to a request for comment asking how much associated security costs for the Duke and Duchess have so far cost Canadians.
Uncertainty reigned in the wake of initial confirmation that the Duke and Duchess were planning to step back from their royal duties to split their time between the U.K. and North America.
Harry and Meghan are set to participate in their last tour of royal duties. They will both be in the U.K. to take part in Commonwealth Day celebrations alongside other members of the Royal Family on March 9 — three months to the day after they announced their surprising plan to step back and “carve out a progressive new role within this institution.”
Federal officials have previously been unclear if the pair and their son, Archie, would be eligible for protection services paid for by taxpayers in their new life as private citizens.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was vague when asked in January about who would be responsible for the security bills, saying Canada has “responsibilities” to support the Duke and Duchess’ move to British Columbia.