Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to spend more time in North America could be considered unlawful, a constitutional expert has warned.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s plan to live in Canada has captivated the nation as they negotiate an abdication deal with the Queen on money, titles and establishing their international commercial brand.
But critics have said that the couple are simply not welcome to settle in Canada, suggesting their presence would cost taxpayers £7.6million [$10million] and would cause a constitutional crisis.
The Globe and Mail, the country’s biggest newspaper, suggested their move to Canada would ‘break an unspoken constitutional taboo’.
And now a constitutional expert has said that Canada’s supreme court could be asked to rule on whether it is lawful to allow them to live in the country claiming there ‘is no constitutional role of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s plan to live in Canada has captivated the nation as they negotiate an abdication deal with the Queen on money, titles and establishing their international commercial brand (pictured, the couple in London last week)
Michael Behiels, an emeritus professor of political and constitutional history at Ottawa Univeristy and fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, said their decision to move could end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.
He told The Times: ‘They can visit Canada on behalf of the Queen but they can’t take on any other royal family responsibilities or live in Canada permanently or part-time.
‘I hope that [the] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet fully respect the nature and scope of Canada’s Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982’.
Concern over their move has been raised because no British royal has ever settled there and the nation prides itself about not having any aristocracy with anyone offered a peerage in the UK expected to renounce their Canadian citizenship first.
Nearly three quarters of Canadians do NOT want to pick up cost of Harry and Meghan living in the country
Nearly three quarters of Canadians do not want to pay for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s move to the country or to pay for their security arrangements, a new poll has found.
The new poll for the non-profit Angus Reid Institute in Canada has revealed that Canadians don’t seem too keen on the idea of lumping the bill themselves.
A new poll for the non-profit Angus Reid Institute in Canada revealed that 73 per cent of Canadians do not want to pay for Harry and Meghan’s security
Seven-in-ten (73 per cent) said that they would prefer Canada not pitch in any money. For one-in-five (19 per cent), some cost sharing is appropriate, while only a handful of Canadians would willingly pay for all costs (3 per cent).
Just 14 per cent said they would be ‘very pleased’ to see the couple spending a significant time in Canada. While 50 per cent said they did not care either way.
When asked about the Royal Family as a whole one-in-five said it is less relevant now than it has been previously. While 41 per cent said they feel the monarchy is completely irrelevant now.
But, despite this, many have been watching the drama unfold. Asked if they have been following these events, 70 per cent say yes. Older Canadians are much more engaged in the latest machinations of the monarchy than younger ones.
But respected broadsheet the National Post said yesterday that denying Harry, Meghan and Archie a home would be ‘all-too-typical’ of the North Amercian nation, branding it ‘Canadian cheapness at its worst’.
It comes after Canada’s biggest newspaper declared the couple are not welcome in a scathing editorial last night in which it said: ‘Canada is not a halfway house for anyone looking to get out of Britain while remaining a royal.’
The editorial condemned the couple’s ‘vague and evolving plan to move to Canada while remaining part of the Royal Family’, adding: ‘The Trudeau government’s response should be simple and succinct: “No”’
The Globe and Mail, a conservative paper that traditionally supports the monarchy, wrote: ‘If they were ordinary private citizens, plain old Harry and Meghan from Sussex, they would be welcome.
‘But this country’s unique monarchy, and its delicate yet essential place in our constitutional system, means that a royal resident – the prince is sixth in the line of succession – is not something that Canada can allow. It breaks an unspoken constitutional taboo.’
The editorial said Canada’s relationship to the monarchy was different from Britain’s, adding: ‘Our royals don’t live here. They reign from a distance. Close to our hearts, far from our hearths’.
The Globe and Mail said it was not a question of money, writing: ‘It goes deeper than the possibility of the feds having to find a few million extra bucks.’
The newspaper has been inundated by letters and emails from readers, many of them also opposed to the Sussexes long-term presence in the country.
One critic wrote: ‘Meghan and Harry: If you are reading these comments, please take them to heart and stay in Britain’, another said: ‘If they propose to freeload on the Canadian taxpayer, then no thanks. I see no need to subsidize the royal soap opera’.
Another angry reader said: ‘As an immigrant from the United Kingdom and now every bit a Canadian, it seems to me the height of condescension that Harry, a UK citizen, and Meghan, a US citizen, seem to take it for granted that they may live as long as they please in Canada without having to go through any formalities. And worse, that the Canadian citizens should pay or his security staff while he loiters in this country’.
One more cynical view, repeated a number of times by readers, said: ‘They don’t really want to move to Canada. I think Meghan wants back to Los Angeles, that’s the real, final destination’.
And a new poll in Toronto, a city Meghan lived for seven years, has found that her husband (pictured with Archie in Canada during their six week break there over Christmas) is, after the Queen, regarded as their favourite Windsor
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spent their first Christmas with baby Archie in Mille Fleurs, $14.1 million waterfront mansion near Victoria, British Columbia. She has been staying there since she left the UK last week
There was some support, however, with one fan saying: ‘Of course they can live here. Long-standing traditions often come to an end. I think it would be great to have Harry and Meghan live here’.
Canadians are split over the royal issue, with some furious about reports their government has offered to pick up the tab for Harry and Meghan’s security – which will cost millions of pounds a year.
The Canadian finance minister has insisted that no such discussions have taken place.
A poll published in the Toronto Sun has found that Harry is the city’s favourite royal as the Sussexes consider where to settle. Harry and Meghan courted in the city and will be drawn to returning.
But nearly three-quarters of people were opposed to paying towards their costs and while support for his grandmother the Queen is ‘deep, broad and strong’, two thirds said the royal family is losing or has lost its relevance and 45 per cent said Canada should not continue as a constitutional monarchy.
The news comes as an expert revealed the cost of security for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could be as much as $10million (£7.6million) annually.
While another warned the issue of their protection cannot be ignored, citing the death of Diana in Paris as a prime example of what can happen if royal security lapses.
Chris Matthews, formerly of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and who worked in the protection of visitors to Canada such as the Royal Family, has estimated the security measures required for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be similar to those of the Prime Minister.
There has been a growing row about who will pick up Harry and Meghan’s annual security bill as they split their time between the UK and Canada (the couple are pictured last week)
But he warned, in an interview with The Globe and Mail, Canada’s biggest newspaper, that security would be more costly as they would have to set it up from scratch.
He said: ‘They need personal body guards all the time. You have to pay those peoples’ salaries. You’ve got to pay for the vehicles they travel in and the aircraft they travel in. You have to pay for the communications equipment they require because it has to be sophisticated so that you can’t listen to it.’
Mr Matthews also warned that their residence would need to have fences installed, alongside CCTV and alarms – adding to the cost of their security.
His figure is only an estimate of course, and other estimates have put the figure at a much lower cost.
Earlier this week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed taxpayers in his country should pay for Prince Harry, Meghan and their son Archie’s protection while they are there.
Mr Trudeau has assured the Queen that the family will be safe while in his country, with Canada expected to pay around half of an estimated £1million ($1.3million) annual bill – a figure based on the cost of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s current UK security bill.
If the Duke and Duchess do decide to spend the vast majority of their time in Canada however, their security arrangements cannot be ignored, a source with direct experience of handling royal affairs has warned.
Others have suggested the cost of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s security wouldn’t be too much of a burden on the Canadian taxpayer (Prince Harry is pictured in a video uploaded to the Sussex Royal Instagram account yesterday)
Speaking to the National Post, the source said the ‘nightmare scenario’ of something terrible happening to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Canada makes it impossible for Canada to just ignore the issue.
‘We don’t want Diana in a tunnel in Paris,’ the source said. But if they have decided to withdraw from Royal duties, then the cost of their security could be difficult to justify, they added.
The news comes it emerged after Harry and Meghan were forced to withdraw a claim they were ‘internationally protected people’ entitled to bodyguards wherever they go.
There has been a growing row about who will pick up the couple’s annual security bill as they split their time between the UK and Canada.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made the claim on their website Sussexroyal.com when it launched last Wednesday.
But the phrase was deleted hours later.
Yesterday a legal expert said the couple made a mistake in presuming they would get protection wherever they live if they are no longer carrying out royal duties.
Dai Davies, a former chief superintendent who led the Metropolitan Police’s royalty protection unit, added: ‘Their naivety beggars belief. I have never heard of the phrase ”internationally protected people”.
As far as I can see there is no such thing when you are no longer performing royal duties.’