Politics

Canada hasn't decided if it would cover security costs for Harry and Meghan: Morneau

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said today the federal government hasn't decided if Ottawa would help to cover the security costs associated with a possible move by Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, to Canada.

Cost of protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex has been pegged at $1.7 million a year

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex pose for a group photo at the Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. As part of a surprise announcement distancing themselves from the British royal family, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan declared they will “work to become financially independent." (John Stillwell/The Associated Press)

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said today the federal government hasn't decided if Ottawa would help to cover the security costs associated with a move by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan to Canada.

A report in the London-based Evening Standard Monday said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told the Queen already that Canada would assume some of the costs associated with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex taking up residence here part-time.

Morneau said the government has not yet held any formal talks on the matter.

"No, we haven't spent any time thinking about this issue," Morneau told reporters in Toronto.

"We obviously are always looking to make sure, as a member of the Commonwealth, we play a role. We have not had any discussions on that subject at this time."

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says that, despite reports to the contrary, the government of Canada has not committed to paying for the security for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 0:21

The Evening Standard said Trudeau has "agreed taxpayers in his country should pick up the huge bill for the couple's round-the-clock protection while they are in the country ... Trudeau has privately assured the Queen that Harry, Meghan and Archie's safety will not be jeopardised while they reside there."

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on the prospect of Canada paying for the family's protection.

The royal couple would not automatically be granted Canadian citizenship, said Mathieu Genest, a spokesperson for Immigration Minster Marco Mendicino, in an emailed statement.

"In order to become legal permanent residents of Canada, they would need to apply through our normal immigration processes. However, members of the Royal Family are not required to seek authorization to come to and stay in Canada as visitors," the spokesperson said.

"There are no provisions in the Citizenship Act that confer Canadian citizenship status to members of the Royal Family by virtue of their status as a member of the monarchy."

Under Canadian immigration law, most British visitors to the country can stay visa-free for up to six months.

Speculation about where the couple will settle has been rife. This is a view of the property in North Saanich on Vancouver Island where it is thought the couple spent the Christmas holidays. Toronto has also been floated as a likely location for the two. (Kevin Light/Reuters)

Security costs estimated at $1.7M

In announcing their decision to step back from their role as senior members of the Royal Family and divide their time between the U.K. and North America, the couple said they wanted to be financially independent and less reliant on funds from the Sovereign Grant, the pool of public money available to the royals to help them carry out their duties.

The cost associated with protecting the Sussexes has been pegged at more than a $1.7 million a year.

Security costs incurred by the royals have been covered by the British taxpayer — but the status of that funding for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is in doubt in light of their stated intention to withdraw from public life.

Canada has paid the costs associated with past royal tours. In 2010, for example, Canadian taxpayers spent $2.8 million to protect the Queen during her nine-day tour of Canada. Protecting Prince William and his wife Kate during a 2011 visit cost Canada about $1.2 million.

Period of transition will be spent in Canada, U.K.

The Queen, Prince Charles, William and Harry met Monday at the Queen's winter residence, Sandringham House, to discuss Harry's future in the House of Windsor.

In a statement issued after the talks, the Queen said all parties agreed that "there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the U.K."

The Queen said that while she would prefer Harry and Megan "remain full-time working members of the Royal Family," she respects and "understands their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family."

As for the costs associated with a move, the Queen said these are "complex matters" and "there is some more work to be done."

Prince Harry, left, speaks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a reception after a receiving line for the Queen's Dinner for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Buckingham Palace in London. (Matt Dunham/AP Photo)

When asked about funding, British Home Secretary Priti Patel, the minister responsible for policing and national security matters, said it would be "thoroughly inappropriate" to comment.

"Talking about it compromises much of the security arrangements and that is not something I will be discussing here today," Patel said in an interview with the BBC.

"If I may, I think it's right that the Royal Family now have the time and space to discuss the issues that they need to discuss. Therefore, I am not going to, and neither will the government, give a public commentary in terms of the security arrangements with anybody with protective security."

The couple spent more than six weeks at a rented mansion on Vancouver Island during the Christmas holiday season. Meghan, an American-born former actress, spent years living in Toronto while filming the legal drama Suits.

Harry also has shown a fondness for Canada. While in the military, he did two stints at the Suffield military base in southeastern Alberta. He also picked Toronto to host the third iteration of the Invictus Games for wounded veterans.

After announcing their dramatic departure from regular royal life, Meghan immediately flew to Canada to be with her son, Archie, who had stayed behind in Canada after the Christmas break.

For more coverage of Harry and Megan, subscribe to the Royal Fascinator, our biweekly newsletter dedicated to news and analysis of the goings-on at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and beyond — in your inbox every other Friday.

About the Author

John Paul Tasker

Parliamentary Bureau

John Paul (J.P.) Tasker is a reporter in the CBC's Parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

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