Moving to the Saanich Peninsula would give Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, a chance to live a more normal life, but also create professional opportunity costs, said a local spokesperson for the Monarchist League of Canada.
“The stated objective is to get somewhere where they can have a more normal life, and I think that the Saanich Peninsula is a great place for that,” said Bruce Hallsor, a Victoria-based lawyer, and former chair of the organization’s Victoria Branch.
The couple, along with their son Archie, are said to be staying in North Saanich after having formalized their part-time move to Canada following an arrangement that will see couple cease their duties as working royals. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will longer use the titles “royal highness” or receive public funds for their work as they seek to establish more private, independent lives.
The couple spent their Christmas holidays in the region before announcing their plans while prevailing theories see the couple establishing themselves in Greater Victoria. Hallsor, however, said Greater Victoria residents cannot be sure that the couple will end up choosing this part of the world. “They are here temporarily while they figure things out,” he said. “I don’t they are going to know where they are going to settle until they figure out how they are going to earn a living and what their jobs are going to be.”
Hallsor said he expects that their professional opportunities are going to lie outside the Victoria region. “Whatever they do, will probably involve a fair bit of travelling to the UK, to Los Angeles. So it may well be that they want to be near a major international airport like Toronto or Vancouver, so that they can get direct flights to a lot of places.”
Looking at job opportunities, Hallsor said they won’t be able to do any kind of work that is political in nature or seen as advocacy.
“I can see certainly see Prince Harry, with his experience working in the non-profit sector, as an advisor, as an executive director for some kind of a major international charity, but it would have to be a pretty non-political one that wasn’t engaged in a lot of controversy,” he said.
Hallsor added that he doesn’t see anything stopping the Duchess of Sussex from doing some acting. “Obviously, she is going to want to be careful about the roles that she would choose,” he said. “If she were doing tasteful, appropriate things, I would think she would command a pretty good dollar with her newfound stature.”
This said, the Saanich Peninsula is an attractive location, starting with its year-round moderate climate, along with other more practical advantages, starting with privacy.
They would be able to get a private property and live in quiet neighbourhood whose residents would not tolerate paparazzi, said Hallsor.
Greater Victoria also offers excellent schools that would allow Archie and any future children to grow up relatively normally, said Hallsor.
While Greater Victoria lacks a major international airport, it enjoys “good connectivity” to the rest of the world and has one of best hospitality industries anywhere in the world, he said.
“And finally, the people of Victoria have demonstrated that they are very respectful of their desire for privacy, and I think they can be assured that they will have that here,” he said. “That may not be the case in bigger centres.”
But it is also unlikely that Greater Victoria will have the same economic opportunities as those larger centres, added Hallsor.
Lifestyle factors also come into play. “They are used to a pretty metropolitan life,” he said. “She has lived in Los Angeles, Toronto and London. Although we like it here, there isn’t as much going on and it isn’t as exciting as some of those big cities. Certainly, the Duchess of Sussex is used to a different lifestyle.”
In other words, it is not yet a given that the Saanich Peninsula will soon welcome royalty among its residents. But if the couple were to settle in the region, Hallsor would welcome them with open arms.
“We’d love them to take out a membership in the local chapter of the Monarchist League and come to meetings,” he said with a chuckle. “I am not sure that is on their agenda. But I think, even though they are taking a step back from being full-time royals, I think there is an expectation that if they are living in Canada, they will be participating in our public life.”
For example, it would be wonderful to have them attend the Government House Ball next year, he said. “It would be wonderful to have them patronize a couple of local charities and be involved with that,” he said. “Those are the kind of ties to the Royal Family that do help cement Canada’s affection for and bond to the monarchy.”
Greater Victoria, he added, could also see more royal visits as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcome family members for visits.
Ultimately, Hallsor does not see the couple’s decision to step back from royal duties as a threat to the long-term survival of the monarchy, as some commentators have argued.
It does not change anything constitutionally, as Queen Elizabeth II remains the monarch of Canada, and barring some major catastrophe, Prince Harry has no chance of becoming king himself, he said.
The couple’s decision to live a more private life would not have been very unusual in the past, he added. “It’s only a very modern invention that we expect all the extended members of the Royal Family to perform public duties 24/7,” he said.
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