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B.C. premier says Harry and Meghan welcome to 'put down roots' in province
VANCOUVER -- Royal watchers were stunned when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced last week they're stepping back from official duties, and after hearing part of their plan, many wonder if they'll put down roots in B.C.
Harry, Meghan and baby Archie said they plan to split their time between the U.K. and Canada, and after vacationing in north Saanich over Christmas, it's possible they will make Vancouver Island their second home.
It's a prospect the premier calls exciting.
Speaking at a news conference Monday, he addressed the couple's recent visit to Vancouver Island.
"They came here because they felt safe, they came here because we have a lot to offer. And if they want to come back and put down roots here, I'm sure I can find something for (Prince) Harry to do," John Horgan joked.
He also had a solution for Meghan Markle, who previously said she was giving up her acting career.
"The film industry is booming in British Columbia, so I'm sure Meghan could get on with one of the great (productions). Maybe 'Riverdale'? Who knows? She'd be good."
Referencing their only child, who shares a name with the show's main character, he said, "Wouldn't be it be great to have a royal who named their child Archie on 'Riverdale'? Writes itself!"
The Duke and Duchess announced last week they'd decided to live a more independent life, prompting speculation about a rift in the Royal Family.
However, after meeting with her grandsons and Prince Charles Monday in an emergency summit at Sandringham Estate in eastern England, the Queen issued a statement saying Harry and Meghan have her full support.
A royal observer weighed in on the couple's plan, and what may have been behind the unusual choice.
"She has to find a balance between the two roles, between the working role as well as the family role," said UBC lecturer Sarika Bose. "And I think she's finding that balance by saying she is sad that the situation has happened, but there is a way forward."
It's believed Meghan and Archie are now back at the north Saanich home the family shared over the holidays, and Harry will soon be joining them.
Photographers from around the globe are waiting at the gates, hoping to snap a shot of the Duke and Duchess.
"There's Range Rovers coming and going from the property with blacked out windows and stuff," said Brent Henry, a freelance photographer from Los Angeles.
While a fellow photographer told him he saw Meghan on the property on Sunday, Henry hasn't been so lucky.
"I talked to a couple of vaguely British people from the other side of the fence, that's pretty much all I've seen," he said.
Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr is glad Harry and Meghan like the area enough to return, but he's worried the foreign photographers camped outside are precisely what they're trying to escape by coming here.
"I have made a point of not engaging with news media outside the local area here," said Orr. "Will it be prolonged if they do make their presence here on a longer term basis? I don't know. I think it's maybe something people aren't that comfortable with."
International media may not stay away, but the premier thinks residents will continue to give the young family space if they make a home in B.C.
"I took comfort in watching the response of my fellow south Vancouver Islanders to royals coming to Victoria, the royal city, in British Columbia," said Horgan. "And what I saw was, they left them alone."
The attitude described by the premier was explained by Bruce Hallsor with the Victoria branch of the Monarchist League of Canada, a non-profit advocacy organization.
"We're pretty used to having international celebrities, movie stars in our midst," Hallsor said.
"We have a pretty good reputation for giving people their privacy. I think that's one of the reasons British Columbia is an attractive place for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex."