Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s two-hour sit-down with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday included multiple reveals about their mental health, the reported racial discrimination they faced from members within and surrounding the Royal Family and the British press, and much more, including the main driver behind their decision to leave Canada for California.
First spotted in Victoria and Vancouver Island in November 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived in British Columbia on their extended sabbatical, weeks before their announcement to step down as senior members of the Royal Family.
During the televised interview special, Winfrey explained the couple “chose [to move to] Canada, a commonwealth of Britain, with the intention to continue serving the Queen.” However, as we now know, those plans shifted, and their time in B.C. was cut short days before the COVID-19 border lockdown came into effect.
Soon, the couple quickly settled in Meghan’s home state of California, and temporarily stayed at movie mogul Tyler Perry’s home in Beverly Hills, later building roots in nearby Montecito.
Prince Harry attributes this sudden change to concerns surrounding their safety, security, and wellbeing as a family.
“The biggest concern is that while we were in Canada, in someone else’s house, I then got told, in short notice, that our security was going to be removed [due to our pending change in royal status],” said the Duke of Sussex, to Winfrey.
“By this point, courtesy of the Daily Mail, the world knew exact ... Our exact location. So suddenly, it dawned on me, ‘Hang on a second, the borders could be closed, we’re going to have our security removed, who knows how long lockdown is going to be, the world knows where we are, it’s not safe, it’s not secure …’”
The Duke also told Winfrey the young family was financially cut off from the royals and public funds in early 2020, saying, “I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Still, internal RCMP documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Foundation later showed that between Nov. 18, 2019 and Jan. 22, 2020, the Mounties spent $56,384 on “special protections” for Prince Harry, Meghan, and baby Archie while in B.C. The RCMP support for the “Internationally Protected Persons” came with an expiration date of March 31, coinciding with the end of their royal tenure.
Both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stressed that security costs and budding professional commitments were at the core of their decision to relocate to California. “We had suggested New Zealand, South Africa, Canada,” said Meghan to Winfrey, as she listed the ways the couple tried to adapt their life of service to part-time status, detailing her proposal for establishing possible residency in a commonwealth country.
Prince Harry told Winfrey of how the couple suggested ways to adjust their royal commitments to their new home base.
“When we were in Canada, I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father, before he stopped taking my calls,” said Prince Harry. “He then said, ‘Can you put this all in writing what your plan is?’”
Ultimately, the Duke and Duchess’ initial plans did not come to fruition, as they are now officially private citizens with an exclusive partnership with Spotify (Archewell Audio), a multiyear deal with Netflix rumoured to be worth USD $100-million, and other continued philanthropic pursuits.
But their time in Canada certainly made an impression; the country received two other mentions by the Duke and Duchess in the broadcast, with Meghan referring to her previous brushes with the commonwealth during her seven seasons (or 108 episodes) as attorney Rachel Zane on “Suits,” which was filmed in Toronto. She also reportedly sported noted Canadian jewelry brand Maison Birks Quartz Earrings for the interview.
“The commonwealth is a huge part of the monarchy,” said Meghan, to Winfrey. “I lived in Canada which is a commonwealth country for seven years, but it wasn’t until Harry and I were together that we started to travel through the commonwealth.”
“Growing up as a woman of colour, a little girl of colour, I know how important representation is,” she continued. “Even grown women and men, when I would meet them in our time in the Commonwealth [I would see] how much it meant to them to see someone who looks like them in this position.”
It was also in Canada where the Duchess of Sussex first adopted her beagle Guy, who made several cameos during the interview.
“Guy’s been through everything with me,” said Meghan, while on a walk with Winfrey and Guy in the couple’s backyard.
“From the beginning, from the very first date, yeah!” said Winfrey.
“Guy, I had him in Canada, I got him from a kill shelter in Kentucky!” she said.
Amid all the changes and strained relationships with the Royal Family, Meghan insists her family’s current freedoms are “greater than any fairy tale,” telling Winfrey, “We’ve not just survived; we’re thriving.”