Let’s imagine for a few minutes that this is June 2020 and that the
former royal couple have settled in. Their new home? An 8 million dollar, 7000 square foot waterfront mansion in Oak Bay, the tony appendage fewer than 4 miles from downtown Victoria, BC. The home, purchased in some secrecy, had been undergoing extensive renovations, which included a combination bedroom and playroom for Archie, adjacent nanny’s quarters, and a complete re-do below ground that will provide kitchen facilities together with living quarters for servants (cooking staff, a butler, maids, a gardener, a dog minder and a chauffeur). Think Downton Abbey on a smaller scale. There is also a newly erected residence on the 2 acre property that will accommodate the former royal couple’s security detail (and for the sake of brevity, why don’t we refer to the former royal couple as the FRC.)
The photo above is of Frogmore Cottage, close to Windsor Castle (too close perhaps?) and that was gifted by the Queen to Harry and Meghan. When the FRC made it clear that they wanted to be at arm’s length from royal duties (that arm now extends some 4700 miles from Buckingham Palace), it remains uncertain whether they will retain Frogmore for their return trips to England. In January of this year it was revealed that the FRC would have to repay the roughly $3 million in renovations undertaking at Frogmore. By the way, I attempted to get a photo of the Oak Bay house, but was shooed away by security.
The FRC have taken to Victoria and to Oak Bay in particular, like Brits to steak and kidney pie. The happy couple were recently spotted strolling down Oak Bay Avenue, on their way to Starbuck’s. Harry ordered a flat white for himself, and a vanilla latte for Meghan, who along the way had ducked into a hat shop. Young Archie, just turned a year old, seemed content in his stroller, having graduated from a pram. The FRC were followed by two burly, bullet-headed gentlemen in black suits, while two black Range Rovers with tinted windows crept along the leafy street beside them. Traffic was backed up for two blocks; unusual for Oak Bay. The Avenue below, prior to the FRC’s arrival and with traffic moving smoothly.
In a recent interview with a local newspaper, Harry stated that the FRC did not want to be fussed about and that they should be regarded as “regular folk.” “We are delighted to be in Canada, especially here in Victoria, as the weather and the surroundings remind us so much of home. Plus you have polo and cricket here, and I am sure I can locate some kippers. Meghan and I look forward to having members of my family come to visit. My grandmother and grandfather are unlikely to make the trip, but my father and Camilla are already making plans, as are William and Kate and their brood. Uncle Andrew has not been extended an invitation to visit.”
The FRC have been very visible since their arrival. One of the their first stops was for high tea at the iconic Empress hotel. Harry, Meghan and Archie feasted on smoked sockeye salmon, cucumber sandwiches, egg salad and raisin scones. Archie particularly like his scone, although he picked out the raisins. The Lobby Lounge at the Empress was closed to other customers while the FRC and Archie enjoyed their tea, although two burly, bullet-headed gentlemen in black suits were seated nearby. Prior to the FRC and Archie being served these gentlemen were charged with sampling the food servings – just in case. One of the serving staff, when asked about waiting on the FRC and Archie, had this to say, “They were delightful, so down-to-earth, dressed very much like tourists, and ate with their forks in their left hands!” Impressive.
The Empress Hotel below. Named for Harry’s great-great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.
Much has been made of the FRC’s decision to “step away” from their royal responsibilities. Harry has stated that the FRC desires to be financially independent. Harry’s background is primarily military, and to his credit, he has flown helicopters, served in Afghanistan, more recently has been a patron of the Invictus Games, but it remains to be seen what he can actually do over the longer term. Meghan, of course, might well return to acting, and could easily shuttle down to Los Angeles from Victoria. But in truth, the FRC will likely have their comparatively frugal lifestyle supported through proceeds accruing to the Duchy of Cornwall, the revenues of which derive from the more than 50,000 hectares of land owned by Harry’s father, Prince Charles.
Much has been made of the security needs of the FRC and Archie, and top-of-mind for many Canadians is the question of where the security costs will land. Canada’s prime minister, pictured below in a turban, has stated that his government has yet to make a decision, while apologizing for the delay.