In January 2020 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the world when they revealed that they would be stepping back from their duties as senior royals. And after that bombshell hit, talk soon turned to where exactly the couple would be staying in their new adopted homeland of Canada – the country where it seemed they intended to spend half of their time. But that wasn’t all that Harry and Meghan had to consider. You see, one very well-known celebrity – someone who is just as famous as the royal family, in fact – had an incredibly generous offer for the pair.
It seems, too, that the Sussexes had made the decision to relocate after being subject to considerable scrutiny from the world’s media. Meghan in particular had been a target of the British press since getting together with Prince Charles’ youngest. And, apparently, the pair wanted to ensure that their son, Archie, wasn’t subjected to the same kind of treatment.
But while Harry and Meghan were seemingly choosing to distance themselves from royal life, an official Buckingham Palace statement confirmed that the couple would still continue to work with the Queen in an official capacity. The message also explained that the Sussexes had expressed their gratitude to their family for supporting them in the “next chapter of their lives.”
So why exactly did Canada appeal to the duke and duchess? Well, it should be noted that the two had enjoyed a lengthy break on Vancouver Island during the 2019 festive period. And Meghan, for one, appeared bowled over by the warm reception that she and her family had received from the locals.
Furthermore, during a January 2020 visit to Canada House in London, Meghan would speak about the beauty of both the country and its inhabitants. She told reporters, “[It was great to] just to be able to take in the warmth that we experienced from the people but also just to walk around and just see the beauty of Canada. To see Archie go ‘ahhh’ when you walk by and just see how stunning it is, so it meant a lot to us.”
In fact, Meghan and Harry even left their eight-month-old in Canada while they dealt with the fallout from their announcement back in the U.K. At that time, Archie was left in the care of Jessica Mulroney – a nanny and close friend of Meghan’s. Yet the pair didn’t spend too long away from their first-born; Meghan flew back soon after while her husband fulfilled various engagements.
And, unsurprisingly, Meghan and Harry’s temporary Canadian home was more than befitting of a duke and duchess, with the couple and their son enjoying time at a waterfront mansion that is worth a reported $14.1 million. According to the Daily Mail, the fully furnished property boasts eight bathrooms and five bedrooms as well as a two-story lounge, a chef’s kitchen and rooms for games, wine tasting and media.
But, of course, Meghan’s connections with Canada go way back. She actually spent six years living in Toronto, you see, while playing Rachel Zane on the popular legal drama Suits. Harry also got to know the city well after having regularly visited Meghan there during their early courtship. And the pair both appeared at the Invictus Games when it was staged in Toronto in 2017.
Given that familiarity with the country, then, it’s perhaps no surprise that Harry and Meghan decided to relocate to Canada. They may have believed that they’d receive an increased level of privacy there, too. After all, Canada’s tabloids are arguably less intrusive than those in Britain, while the North American nation also offers far more secluded areas should the royals want a peaceful getaway.
And in fact Meghan had previously commented on how refreshing she finds Toronto. She once told Hello! Canada, “It’s really funny because I think [that], as much of a big city as Toronto is, it’s so different from LA or New York. There [are] no paparazzi, so it’s really easy to just have a normal life.”
Thankfully, then, many Canadians seem to have embraced the royals’ surprise decision. Tim Hortons, a donuts and coffee company, even offered Harry and Meghan drinks on the house for life. And the relocation was apparently warmly received by The Globe and Mail’s Anne Donahue, who described the couple’s move to her homeland as a “fairy-tale ending.”
In addition, the National Post’s Tristan Hopper had argued long before Harry and Meghan’s shock decision that the prince should think about becoming Canada’s governor-general. Hopper wrote, “One of the chief pitfalls of the job… is that it takes smart, ambitious Canadians and essentially imprisons them in a palace with strict instructions to do what they’re told. If there’s anyone who knows how to be clothed in immense power that they never, ever use, it’s the House of Windsor.”
Not everyone was completely enamored with the idea of Meghan and Harry stepping down, though. The Monarchist League of Canada, for example, was quick to warn the couple that public opinion could turn should they be seen as disrespecting the Queen. And TV presenter and former newspaper editor Piers Morgan also waded in on the matter. He argued in the Daily Mail that the pair want to “keep all the trappings of royal life without any of the hard, boring bits [as well as] the right to cash in on their status however they choose.”
So, what happens next for Harry and Meghan? Well, they will officially stop serving as representatives of the Queen at the end of March 2020, with their final duty as working royals reported to be a visit to Westminster Abbey for a Commonwealth Day service. This particular event – considered one of the most important in the Queen’s calendar – is also typically graced by Harry’s father, his brother, William, and sister-in-law, Kate.
But before that, Harry will do something else that no one expected: he’ll head into the recording studio with Jon Bon Jovi. Yes, the prince is joining forces with the rock legend and the Invictus Games Choir for a track named “Unbroken,” which will be released as a charity single on behalf of the multi-sport event.
Then, after his surprise trip to the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, Harry will join Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton to help open British motor racing museum The Silverstone Experience. And the following day, he will accompany Meghan to the Royal Albert Hall in London for the Mountbatten Festival of Music.
Meghan and Harry will also be in attendance at the Endeavor Fund Awards in the English capital, while the duchess will later help celebrate International Women’s Day with a solo appearance. Meghan, of course, is a renowned feminist who has continued to support rights for women since becoming a member of the royal family.
But what will Harry and Meghan be doing after officially giving up their status as working royals? Well, in May 2020, the Duke of Sussex is currently scheduled to join thousands of spectators in the Dutch city of The Hague for the Invictus Games – the sporting event that he helped to establish.
Apparently, Harry and Meghan have also expressed their desire to found a brand-new non-profit organization. And it seems likely that the pair will continue to carry out public work close to their heart, including initiatives relating to youth empowerment, community and mental health. Individually, Harry is almost certainly going to continue advocating for HIV awareness, the welfare of servicepeople and conservation, while Meghan looks set to resume her work on education and gender equality.
But in February 2020 the couple faced a minor setback when they learned that they would no longer be able to use the word “royal” for promotional purposes. Yes, while Harry and Meghan had reportedly been keen to use the name “Sussex Royal” in association with their future non-profit, U.K. governmental rules meant their plan was ultimately thwarted.
Yet while Harry and Meghan appeared to accept this decision, they were seemingly keen to point out that they didn’t actually face any such restrictions outside of the U.K. A statement from the pair read, “While there is not any jurisdiction by the monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word ‘royal’ overseas, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use ‘Sussex Royal’ in any territory post-spring 2020.”
That said, dropping the word “royal” could affect Harry and Meghan’s Instagram page. To date, you see, the couple have amassed an impressive 11.2 million followers since launching their account on the photo-sharing platform under the username “sussexroyal.” It’s not yet clear what the account will rebrand as, nor whether the new name will have the same impact.
Still, there may yet be good news for the royals, as according to analytics platform Inzpire Me, their Instagram influence will remain strong. After news broke of Harry and Meghan’s split from the royal family, for example, their following on the social media site grew by 9.7 percent – surpassing that of William and Kate. All this means that the pair can now reportedly rake in more than $100,000 per post.
Regardless, BBC correspondent Jonny Dymond believes that all the drama over names has only served to distance the duke and duchess further from the rest of the Windsor clan. He said in February 2020, “Now, [Harry and Meghan] have ended up really completely on the outside. Yes, of course, there is still the family role and the private role, and they are clearly always going to be members of the private side of the royal family.”
Dymond continued, “But, publicly, there is no role [for Harry and Meghan] at all. No tours, no titles, nothing. And this is the final signifier. They will not be able to use the word ‘royal,’ and they have agreed they will not call their foundation, their website, their social media feed, any of that… It won’t have the word ‘royal’ in it, and it won’t be Sussex Royal.”
And according to an unnamed insider, the dispute over Harry and Meghan’s royal brand has upset the Queen considerably. In February 2020 the individual in question allegedly told Vanity Fair that the monarch “generally doesn’t want to talk about it” before adding, “The Queen has been keen to get this resolved because she sees it is damaging to the monarchy.”
The anonymous source continued, “On a personal level, I think this has been rather hurtful for [the Queen]. She has got to the point where she doesn’t want to think about it anymore.” In fact, according to the insider, the monarch wants Harry and Meghan’s distancing from the family to be “over and done with.”
But while Harry and Meghan may have upset the Queen over their choice to step back from their royal duties, they did receive backing from the Queen of Pop. Yes, after hearing about the couple’s plans to escape to North America, none other than Madonna offered both her support and an interesting proposal.
In early February 2020 the “Ray of Light” singer uploaded a clip to her Instagram account in which she discussed all the furor surrounding the royals. That wasn’t all, either, as she also captioned the video with an intriguing question: “Do Meghan and Prince Harry want to sublet my apartment on Central Park West??”
The pop superstar posted the attention-grabbing clip during some downtime on the U.K. leg of her Madame X concert tour. And with jazz music accompanying her in the background, Madonna specifically addressed the prince, saying, “Harry, don’t run off to Canada. It’s so boring there.”
Madonna then went on to extol the virtues of her New York property. She told her followers, “I’ll let [Harry and Meghan] sublet my apartment in Central Park West. It’s [got] two bedrooms, it’s got the best view of Manhattan [and] an incredible balcony. I think that’s gonna be a winner; that’s gonna be the deal-breaker.”
The mischievous singer even made the bold claim that “Buckingham Palace has got nothing on CPW.” An unseen man who was in Madonna’s dressing room at the time then remarked, “The view is better, that’s for sure.” And the hit-maker agreed, adding, “Yeah, a bunch of guys in woolly hats.”
Reportedly, Madonna had purchased the Manhattan property back in 2008 for a cool $7.3 million. But, unfortunately, it seems that the apartment has caused her nothing but trouble in recent times. In 2018, for instance, the star found herself on the losing end of a nearly three-year court battle. Madonna had unsuccessfully sued the building’s co-op board over a rule change of which she claimed she’d never been made aware.
More specifically, the pop icon was contesting the diktat that an apartment owner couldn’t allow any family members or employees to live in the property without themselves being present. This particular stipulation was reportedly only brought in after Madonna had bought the apartment in 2008. Still, despite the fact that the musician denied any knowledge of the rule change, the court ultimately ruled in favor of the co-op board.
And even if Harry and Meghan wanted to take Madonna up on her offer, they may not be legally able to. According to The New York Post, the co-op board of the building, named Harperley Hall, needs its directors to approve any form of subletting first.
But while the press focused on Madonna’s generous offer, Canadians were taking umbrage with her less-than-kind remarks about their homeland. One social media user tweeted, for example, “Hey Canada, let’s show Madonna just how boring we are. Next time she tours our beautiful country… nobody buys tickets.”
An unimpressed native also said to the star, “Is it necessary to insult Canadians? We do put a lot of money in your pockets.” And another commented, “So Madonna thinks Canada is boring, huh? I was surprised to hear that. Mostly because I’d forgotten she was alive, but my mistake.”
It’s not known whether Madonna has ever met or spoken to Harry or Meghan in the past – nor is it clear if the duo have given any response to her offer. That said, the Queen of Pop was once introduced to Harry’s late mother. And Madonna recalled the meeting in an interview with The Daily Mirror that was conducted shortly after Princess Diana’s death in 1997.
“We must have talked for about ten minutes,” Madonna reflected on her brief encounter with Diana at a 1996 cocktail party. “I said I always sympathized with her position and made some joke that she was the only person who seemed to get more attention than me. She said, ‘I think you handle the press better than I do.’”
“I said [to Diana], ‘You will have to get skin as thick as an armadillo,’” Madonna then added. “We agreed to meet when I was in England again. I had wanted Diana to host a royal premiere of Evita, but for some reason we couldn’t put it together. We never did meet again.”