Canada‘s finance minister says its government has not yet decided if it will cover the $1.7 million it will cost to provide security for Harry and Meghan after the couple decided to move to North America.
The Queen on Monday agreed to allow her grandson and his wife to split their time between Canada and the UK while an agreement was made on their future following their shock resignation as senior royals.
The decision came as finance minister Bill Morneau said the Canadian government has not yet discussed if it would help cover the security costs associated with Harry and Meghan living in Canada.
It follows reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already promised the Queen that Canada – and its taxpayers – would help pay for the couple’s security.
Canada’s finance minister Bill Morneau (left) says its government has not yet decided if it will cover Harry and Meghan’s estimated $1.7 million security costs after reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) had already promised the Queen
Trudeau also assured the Queen that the family would be safe while in his country with Canada expected to pay around half of the estimated $1.7 million annual security bill, London’s Evening Standard claimed.
‘No, we haven’t spent any time thinking about this issue,’ Morneau told reporters in Toronto on Monday.
‘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.’
A Trudeau spokesperson declined to comment on whether Canada’s taxpayers would foot the bill.
There have been concerns that the large cost of providing security for Harry and Meghan could lead to a backlash in Canada and damage the status of the monarchy there.
Harry and Meghan are entitled to 24/7 taxpayer-funded protection at home and abroad as members of the royal family.
Buckingham Palace, the UK Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and the Home Office have already discussed the future of the couple’s security.
The Queen on Monday agreed to allow Harry and Meghan to split their time between Canada and the UK with their son Archie while an agreement was made on their future following their shock resignation as senior royals
The Duchess of Sussex, then Meghan Markle, speaks to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the One Young World summit in Ottowa in September 2016. Prince Harry meets Justin Trudeau during a bilateral meeting in Toronto in September 2017
Asked about the issue of who will fund their security, the British Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC: ‘I’m not going to provide any detailed information on the security arrangements for either them or any members of the Royal Family or for any protected individuals – that’s thoroughly inappropriate for me to do so.
‘At this moment in time, right now, the royal family themselves need some time and space for them to work through the current issues that they’re dealing with.’
Campaigners have said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who are charged with protecting senior officials including the Governor General, must not write a blank check on millions of dollars worth of protection, while others have suggested Harry and Meghan should foot the bill themselves.
The Queen said on Monday that she’d held ‘very constructive’ talks with Harry, his brother Prince William and their father Prince Charles in a bid to chart a course through the fallout of the bombshell announcement.
Their effective resignation last week followed a year filled with rumors of infighting between the brothers and reports of Meghan feeling unwelcome in the highly traditional and structured royal family.
‘My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,’ the 93-year-old monarch said in a statement after the first day of meetings at her Sandringham estate in eastern England.
Harry and Meghan said they wanted to ‘carve out a progressive new role within this institution’.
‘Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family,’ the queen said.
The monarch stressed the couple told her ‘they do not want to be reliant on public funds’ but did not address the issue of whether they would keep their royal titles.
Harry and Meghan are formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Five percent of their income is from public funds.
The rest comes from Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall, a hereditary private estate dating back to 1337, which funds the public, charitable and private activities of his family.
‘It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK,’ said the queen, stressing that there were still ‘complex matter’ left to resolve.
‘I have asked for final decisions to be reached within days,’ she said.
A recent poll conducted two days before the couple’s shock announcement found that more than 60 per cent of Canadians would support the appointment of the Duke of Sussex as the Governor General of Canada.
The mostly ceremonial role, which is to act as the Queen’s representative in Canada, provides both a residence – Government House in Ottowa – and a security detail.
Some 61 per cent of the Canadians polled said they would support having Harry replace current governor general Julie Payette when her term expires in two years.
The poll came despite Harry never having expressed any interest in the post, which has been held by Canadians since the 1950s but was previously held by Britons.