14/01/2020 17:24 GMT | Updated 15/01/2020 12:28 GMT

Does Canada Have A Responsibility To Pay For Harry And Meghan?

Answer: It’s complicated.

Justin Trudeau’s Office says Canada has “responsibilities” to support the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s eventual move to Canada, but it remains unclear what financial obligations Canada has when it comes to their security costs.

The prime minister told Global News on Monday the federal government is “obviously supportive” of Meghan and Harry’s decision to relocate part-time to Canada. No decisions have been made about the potential millions in security costs that may be funded by the public purse.

Watch Trudeau’s response below. Story continues after video.

 “There are still a lot of decisions to be taken by the Royal Family, by the Sussexes themselves as to what level of engagement they choose to have,” Trudeau said, when asked if Canadians would be picking up the tab. 

“We’re not entirely sure what the final decisions will be,” adding that he thinks most Canadians are “very supportive” of having royals choose Canada as their new part-time home.

No discussions yet: finance minister

Finance minister Bill Morneau said Monday that, as a member of the Commonwealth, Canada is “obviously” looking to play a role but that there have been no discussions on the matter.

The Queen confirmed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will split their time between Canada and the UK. Her statement comes a week after the pair announced their plan to “step back” from their senior roles within the Royal Family.

Their indeterminate roles within the Royal Family, combined with their expressed desire to not be “reliant on public funds in their new lives,” have raised questions about who should pay for their security after they settle in Canada.

POOL New / Reuters
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stand with High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom Janice Charette as they leave after their visit to Canada House in London on Jan. 7, 2020. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s eventual move to Canada has already ruffled the feathers of some Canadians, irritated by the idea of tax dollars being used to pay for the royals’ security costs. Their security costs are covered by British taxpayers when they’re in the UK.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) must provide protection services to members of the Royal Family during official visits. Mounties are obligated to provide security for Canadian and foreign dignitaries, at major events such as royal visits, and on select international and domestic flights.

But as future residents of Canada with unclear roles within the Royal Family, it’s unclear if the Duke and Duchess would qualify for continual RCMP protection.

Internationally Protected Persons (IPP), a class of dignitaries and their families, defined under international law are also eligible for “special protection” by RCMP protective services under international law

Prince Harry does not immediately appear to meet the eligibility criteria for who would be considered an Internationally Protected Persons (IPP), as defined under the Criminal Code. The Code’s definition of an IPP includes:

  • A head of state, including any member of a collegial body that performs the functions of a head of state under the constitution of the state concerned, a head of a government or a minister of foreign affairs, whenever that person is in a state other than the state in which he holds that position or office;
  • A member of the family of a person described who accompanies that person in a state other than the state in which that person holds that position or office.

Though the Sussexes may not automatically be eligible for RCMP security in Canada, there’s another avenue that allows the federal government to make the final call.

Blair Gable / Reuters
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair speaks during question period in the House of Commons on Dec. 10, 2019.

According to the RCMP, the public safety minister has the authority to grant protection to designated people.

The RCMP are tightlipped about what their obligations would be for incoming Royals taking residence in Canada. Cpl. Caroline Duval told HuffPost Canada the national police force “would not confirm or speculate on any present or future personal protection measures.”

It still remains unclear what financial agreement the Duke and Duchess will strike with the family as they settle into their new lives in Canada. The reality is that round-the-clock security doesn’t come cheap.

Meghan and Harry’s eight-day family visit to British Columbia and the Yukon back in 2016 cost taxpayers nearly $2 million (around £1.2m) in security costs, including travel expenses and overtime.

A royal security detail also apparently does no favours in securing tables. 

A North Saanich restaurant reportedly turned down a request from the royal couple to dine at the waterfront restaurant because of the amount of security that would have been required to secure the premises. 

The Duke and Duchess and baby Archie spent six weeks on the West Coast during the holidays.

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