Will Canadians Have to Pay the Security Costs for Harry and Meghan?

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MONTREAL — News from Queen Elizabeth II on Monday that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will be living part-time in Canada was greeted with a mix of enthusiasm and concern that Canada could end up faced with a hefty bill for hosting them.

Philippe Lagassé, an expert on the monarchy at Carleton University, said that although monarchists and celebrity watchers will be happy, others could be annoyed if Canada ended up having to foot the cost for their security. There was also a camp of people consumed by “indifference,” he added.


“People who care about the monarchy and celebrity will view this in a good light,” he said. “Now the question will be who is going to pay the tab for the security bill.”

[Analysis: ‘Megxit’ is the new Brexit in a Britain split by age and politics.]

One reader commented on the website of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading national newspaper: “Welcome to Canada but I trust you will be paying for any security or other costs. You cannot benefit from your royal station.” The sentiment was echoed by other readers.

Bill Morneau, Canada’s finance minister, told reporters on Monday that the government had not yet decided if it would cover some of the security costs related to the royal move.

“No, we haven’t spent any time thinking about this issue,” he was quoted as saying by the CBC, the Canadian broadcaster. “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.”

While the royal couple have professed to wanting to be financially independent, there is no guarantee they could get permits to work in Canada.

Speaking before Monday’s announcement, Professor Lagassé noted that, although the queen is Prince Harry’s grandmother and is an enduring presence on the Canadian 20-dollar bill, she was not a Canadian citizen and that her status as Canada’s head of state did not automatically confer legal rights to her grandson.

He added that while Canada is a constitutional monarchy and there was little enthusiasm for upending its constitutional structure, the setup was nevertheless viewed by many as a vestige of the past.

“If you were to remake Canada now it wouldn’t be a monarchy,” he said. “At the moment, the royal family don’t live here or cost us anything. But if they did, then attitudes toward them could change.”

The office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to comment. In December, around the time of the couple’s Canadian vacation, he had extended them a warm welcome on Twitter.

“You’re among friends, and always welcome here,” he wrote.



By Dan Bilefsky

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