Assumptablog

Harry and Meghan: Prince arrives in Canada ahead of new chapter

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Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex depart Canada House
Image captionHarry and Meghan visited Canada House in London after returning from their Christmas break

The Duke of Sussex has arrived in Canada as he prepares for a new life away from royal duties.

Prince Harry landed on Vancouver Island on Tuesday morning to be reunited with his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, and their eight-month-old son Archie.

It comes after the duke said he was “taking a leap of faith” in stepping back as a senior royal, but “there really was no other option”.

From the spring, the Sussexes will no longer be full-time working royals.

They will stop using their HRH titles, no longer carry out royal duties or military appointments and no longer formally represent the Queen.

The new arrangement was unveiled on Saturday, following days of talks with the Queen and other senior royals including Harry’s older brother, the Duke of Cambridge.

Prince Harry landed in Vancouver on Tuesday morning before travelling to Victoria International Airport on Vancouver Island.

The duchess has been staying on Canada’s west coast with her son, after briefly returning to the UK earlier this month following an extended six-week Christmas break on Vancouver Island with Prince Harry.

On Monday, Harry attended the UK-Africa Investment Summit – likely to be one of his last official royal engagements.

After holding a number of private meetings – including with Prime Minister Boris Johnson – the duke flew from Heathrow Airport to Canada, BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said.

Prince Harry talks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London
Image captionPrince Harry spoke with world leaders at the UK-Africa summit, including Mr Johnson

He has been apart from wife Meghan for more than 10 days, after she flew back to Canada earlier this month.

On Monday, a beaming Meghan and Archie were photographed walking her dogs, a beagle and a black Labrador, in a park on Vancouver Island. Before she married, Meghan regularly featured her pets on her Instagram account.

Archie, who was born in May, has not been back to the UK since the family’s Christmas break on Vancouver Island.

Archie and Prince Harry
Image captionThe couple and son Archie spent time in Victoria over Christmas
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Will the Sussexes find peace on Vancouver Island?

By Sophie Long, BBC North America correspondent

The storm has passed and the sun that has melted most of the snow has revealed just how beautiful Vancouver Island is. Now I can understand why the royal couple might want to live here.

The people are relaxed and welcoming. There is a sense of happiness and pride that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex want to come here and share in the surroundings that islanders are so proud of.

The couple have come here because they want to have a more balanced and peaceful life.

One woman tells me they deserve as much space as anyone and she thinks they’ll find it here – as long as the press leave them alone. The implication being that the Canadian public won’t be the problem.

Ross, who was born and raised here but has British roots, says he doesn’t think they’ll be hassled. “Canadians might give them a wave,” he says, “but they won’t be jumping up and down.”

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after a service at St Mary the Virgin church, Hillington, Norfolk
Image captionThe Queen attended church near Sandringham on Sunday, the morning after the announcement about Harry and Meghan

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are continuing with their royal schedule. For the first time, the couple hosted an evening reception for world leaders on behalf of the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Monday.

On Tuesday, the duke will attend a United for Wildlife event at St James’s Palace.

‘The truth from me’

Buckingham Palace’s announcement on Saturday night followed weeks of speculation about what Harry and Meghan’s new roles within the Royal Family would involve, after the couple’s surprise announcement they wanted to step back as senior royals.

In his first speech since the revelation, Harry said he wanted people “to hear the truth from me… not as a prince, or a duke, but as Harry”.

Media captionPrince Harry says it is “a great sadness that it has come to this”

“The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change,” he said.

He said he had found “the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life” with Meghan, and wanted to make it clear they were “not walking away”.

In their announcement, the couple said they wanted to work to become financially independent and split their time between the UK and North America.

It is understood the couple will continue to receive money from Harry’s father under the new agreement, although it is unclear whether this will come from the Duchy, his personal wealth, or a combination of the two.

However, the pair will stop receiving money from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, which makes up the other 5% of their income.

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