Canada's PM raises questions over who will pay for Harry and Meghan’s security

14 January 2020, 08:43

The Queen issued a statement on Monday evening
The Queen issued a statement on Monday evening. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Questions have been raised over security and costs for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's after the Queen sanctioned the couple's move to Canada.

After a historic royal summit at Sandringham on Monday, the Queen signalled she would back Harry and Meghan's new "independent life" away from full-time royal duties and said they will begin a transition period living in the UK and Canada.

One of the biggest questions raised was the cost of armed security for the pair, with their status as Internationally Protected People could see the bodyguard budget spiral out of control.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said there is still much to discuss over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's move to his country.

Their status means they are both entitled to armed protection, but it has left people questioning who will foot the bill.

In her first public comments since Meghan and Harry released their bombshell statement last week, the Queen expressed her regret at their wish to step back as senior royals.

But she said her family "respect and understand" their wishes for more independence while still remaining a "valued part" of the monarchy.

In an unusual move, Harry and Meghan were not referred to as the duke and duchess in the statement, only as the Sussexes and by their first names, raising questions about whether they will retain their titles.

The statement issued by Her Majesty was unusual in that it was issued in her own name - an action usually reserved for when paying condolences after the death of a foreign head of state, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.

The Queen was joined by the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge for "very constructive" face-to-face talks with Harry at her private Norfolk estate, and it is thought Meghan joined the discussions by telephone from Canada after the Queen made reference to comments by the duchess and her husband.

The head of state also expressed the "support" of herself and the rest of the family for the couple's aspiration to create a new life together with their eight-month-old son Archie.

She stressed the discussions were "complex matters" for her family to resolve but she wanted "final decisions" in the "coming days".

Harry and Meghan made clear in their statement last week they wanted to step back from being senior royals, become financially independent and split their time between North America and the UK.

Asked during an interview with Global News on Monday whether Canadian taxpayers would have to pay for security costs, Mr Trudeau said: "That is part of the reflection that needs to be had and there are discussions going on.

"We're not entirely sure what the final decisions will be, what the dispositions are and those are decisions for them.

"I think most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here, but how that looks and what kind of costs are involved, there are still lots of discussions to have."

He said the federal Canadian government had not been involved "up until this point" about what the couple's move to the country will involve.

"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," Mr Trudeau said.

"We are obviously supportive of their reflections but have responsibilities in that as well."

The Sussexes enjoyed a "general feeling of appreciation" in Canada, he added.

Canada's finance minister Bill Morneau told reporters in Toronto that the government "had not spent any time" thinking about the couple's security costs.

In another development, William and Harry made a joint show of strength by issuing a statement denying a newspaper claim about their relationship, which they branded "offensive and potentially harmful".

The statement did not name the newspaper but The Times had a front-page story about the crisis, and said a source told the publication Harry and Meghan "regarded themselves as having been pushed away by what they saw as a bullying attitude from the Duke of Cambridge".

A number of questions remain unanswered, with the central issue being how the Sussexes will fund their future lives and whether any deals will have to be scrutinised by the palace.

The Queen said she was "supportive" of the plans
The Queen said she was "supportive" of the plans. Picture: PA

Queen's full statement

The full Buckingham Palace statement read: "Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.

"My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.

"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.

"Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.

"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.

"These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days."