Canada, U.K. discussing how to pay for Prince Harry and Meghan's security costs: minister
'I know this is an issue of discussion for many Canadians,' says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said today that the RCMP and security officials in the United Kingdom are discussing how best to protect Prince Harry and Meghan while they live here in Canada — and who ultimately will foot the bill for their security.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Blair said Canada is dealing with an "unprecedented situation" that will see Harry and Meghan step away from active royal life in Britain to settle in North America.
"I know this is an issue of discussion for many Canadians," Blair said. "Discussions are taking place between our security officials in the RCMP and security officials in the U.K. as it relates to security obligations and how most appropriately to cover these security costs."
So far, the government has refused to say whether the RCMP has been consulting its British equivalents on the matter. Before today, the official line was that the Mounties were not protecting the couple while in Canada.
Blair's answer came in response to a question from Bloc Québécois MP Christine Normandin.
She said while it's "none of our business" whether Harry and Meghan take up residence in Canada, "what is our business is who will pay for their security. Can the minister reassure us that Quebecers will not have to pay for the security of this royal couple?"
Blair didn't say for certain whether Canadians would have to pay. Cost estimates for this type of security vary widely from $1.7 million a year to a figure many times that amount.
"There have been no decisions at this time. The ongoing security and threat assessments are taking place," Blair said.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they will stop receiving public funds from British taxpayers through the Sovereign Grant after they leave their official duties behind, but the issue of who will pay their ongoing security costs has not been settled.
The couple draw a yearly stipend from Harry's father, Prince Charles, through the privately owned farm and land operation, the Duchy of Cornwall.
According to British tabloid reports, Meghan has been spotted in B.C. alongside protection officers from the London Metropolitan Police, the agency tasked with royal security. The couple have been staying at a mansion north of Victoria with their young son, Archie.
Blair said last week certain individuals, such as heads of state and members of the Royal Family, are considered "internationally protected persons (IPP)" under the UN Protection of Diplomats Convention, which obliges Canada to provide a certain level of security.
The definition of an IPP, according to the Criminal Code, is limited to the Queen and other members of the Royal Family who "[accompany] that person in a state other than the state in which that person holds that position or office."
But because Harry and Meghan essentially have renounced their royal titles, Blair said their status is in question.