As It Happens

Water taxi driver refuses to take reporters to Harry and Meghan's suspected B.C. home

Photographer turned boat captain Miles Arsenault is refusing to take paparazzi to Harry and Meghan's North Saanich, B.C. waterfront home even though he could use the business.

'It's invasion of privacy,' says Bay to Bay Charters Capt. Miles Arsenault

As a former photographer, Arsenault says he understands the media need to make a living but adds 'they're not going to make it on my boat.' (Submitted by Miles Arsenault)

Miles Arsenault could have used the business.

But when a Japanese television company tried to book his water taxi to visit a waterfront property believed to be Prince Harry and Meghan's new residence, Arsenault says he knew he had to decline the offer.

"It's invasion of privacy," Arsenault told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

Arsenault is new to the water taxi business. It was only six months ago that the retired photographer opened Bay to Bay Charters in North Saanich, B.C.

But business is booming in the Vancouver Island community with rumours that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are moving there as they step back from their roles in the royal family.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are believed to have set up a new residence in North Saanich, B.C., as they step back from their royal duties. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images)

At first, Arsenault says the television company didn't mention anything about Harry and Meghan. But when they told him where they wanted to go, he says he was suspicious.

"I didn't know at that time that it was Meghan and Harry's private residence. But I asked them if this was involving them and they admitted that it was," Arsenault said.

"At that point, I said, 'You're going to have to hire yourself another water taxi company.'"

Arsenault estimates the trip would have taken at least two hours and probably earned him about $300. But just knowing that he respected the royals' wish for privacy was far more valuable to him.

"It wasn't going to make or break the bank," Arsenault said. "I don't want peeping Toms. If I'm sitting out on my deck, I don't want it in my life."

Arsenault is the owner and captain of Bay to Bay Charters in North Saanich, B.C. (Submitted by Miles Arsenault)

As a former photographer, Arsenault says he understands the temptation to try and cash-in on the royal craze. But ultimately, he doesn't want to contribute to something that Harry and Meghan are trying to escape.

"I know what it is to get the shot — the money shot," Arsenault said. "Reporters, photographers, videographers — they need to make a living. But they're not going to make it on my boat."

With 25 years behind the lens, Arsenault adds that getting a decent shot of the property would be difficult to do from the choppy water.

"Probably not much of a shot in my mind," Arsenault said. "I know what it takes to get a shot and that's probably the most difficult platform you can work from."

But not everyone has been so respectful. Arsenault says he has already had to turn away other offers from people keen to visit the property.

"I know that other water taxi operators are servicing the needs," Arsenault said. "If that $300 turns your crank — go for it. I'm not going to lose any sleep over what they are doing."

Arsenault says he appreciates why the couple have 'stepped away' and are trying to 'make a new life.' (Submitted by Miles Arsenault)

Candid images of Meghan walking with her son, eight-month-old Archie, in a Vancouver Island park have already surfaced in some tabloids. But Arsenault says it still pales in comparison to the relentless paparazzi the couple had to deal with in Britain.

"If they were on the other side of the pond, there would have been a thousand of them in the bushes," Aresnault said. "I think it's still much better than where they are from."

For the most part, Arsenault says the community is actually excited and ready to welcome the Duke and Duchess.

"They hope to rub elbows with them in the line in the grocery store," Arsenault said. "They just wish them nothing but the best in their new lives."

Written by John McGill. Interview produced by Kate Cornick.


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