VANCOUVER—They don’t get a free pass to Crown land. They’ll have to put in effort if they want to keep their baby from speaking “Canadian.” And, they’ll have to go through the proper procedures if they want to get permanent residency.
Since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle received the green light from the Queen to live, at least part time, in Canada, there have been questions aplenty about what their decision to step back from full-time royal duties will mean for the U.K.
But in Canada, some more practical — and some, well, entirely less practical — questions must be considered.
Here are the essentials.
What kind of accent will baby Archie develop?
Could baby Archie end up sounding like a Canadian?
Under normal circumstances, a child tends to grow up speaking like their friends, even when their parents have a different accent. So say linguistic experts, and teenagers everywhere.
But eight-month-old Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and seventh in line for the British throne, may eventuallly have some other expectations thrust upon him, in terms of his pronunciation.
While Harry and Meghan have made it clear they intend to split their time between Canada and the United Kingdom, it remains to be seen how much time the couple will spend in each country — and where their infant son will be educated.
“I have a feeling that the Royal Family would have an interest to have an heir, however far removed, who speaks with an English accent,” said Stefan Dollinger, associate professor in the University of British Columbia’s sociolinguistics department.
If Archie is sent to a British boarding school, he would conceivably develop an accent similar to his father’s — upper class “received pronunciation” English. But education in Canada would likely mean the child would speak with a standard Canadian accent.
What is most likely, Dollinger said, is that Archie will develop a mixed accent as a result of spending time in both Canada and the U.K., or be trained to speak with several accents, using the most appropriate one for each occasion.
“It’ll be very likely if he’s a teenager and you drag him into the lab and you record his speech there will likely be some fudged forms, some intermediate forms (of speech),” Dollinger predicted.
How is it that Harry and Meghan get to stay here?
Contrary to what some may think, Harry and Meghan are not entitled to any special privileges immigrating to Canada just because they’re royalty. But don’t expect them to encounter any big hurdles getting their papers in order, either.
Based on her previous TV work in Canada, Markle likely qualifies for permanent resident status under the “cultural activities” component of the Self-Employed Persons Program. If that’s the case, her husband and child could simply apply as accompanying dependants.
“I think she has an excellent chance,” said Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. “She applies, gets the ticket, they all come in.” If granted, Harry would then be entitled to an “open spousal work permit” — which means no constraints on where he works.
Kurland, however, cautions Markle about one thing: her pending application for U.K. citizenship. If she applies for Canadian permanent residency before the disposition of her U.K. citizenship application, that could create complications and “come back to bite her,” Kurland said. “That’s why I’d be honoured to take on (their file),” he said, adding he’d be willing to do the work pro bono.
How much will it cost taxpayers to keep them safe?
Security is a question that’s loomed large in discussions of the Royals’ move.
The answer is: It depends. Will they reside in a bustling city such as Toronto, or in a secluded bungalow on the West Coast? Retired RCMP deputy commissioner Pierre-Yves Bourduas says anytime there’s an official royal visit to Canada, the RCMP works with the branch of London’s Metropolitan Police responsible for protecting the Royal Family to assign security roles.
But Harry and Meghan’s move to Canada is unprecedented and presents a “whole different dynamic.” Bourduas says he can’t see a scenario where Mounties would provide long-term protection to the young family, beyond providing advice. “(The RCMP) have other priorities than to manage this Royal couple’s transition into a more personal life.”
Just look at our ex-prime ministers, he said. They’re pretty much on their own after leaving office.
Some private VIP security firms appear to be trying to woo the couple. Going private offers “more personal control of the family needs and requirements,” said a blog post this week on the website of Toronto-based Sentinel Security Plus, which conveniently listed how much high-profile business leaders pay for their security, such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg ($4 million) and Apple’s Tim Cook ($210,000).
Even though Harry and Meghan are trying to distance themselves from the Royal Family and could lose their status as “Internationally Protected Persons,” — defined in the Criminal Code as a heads of state, state representatives and their family members — they’d be foolish not to take some precautions, said Joe Balz, the firm’s director of executive protection. “They will have to have some security … just because of the people they are,” he said.
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Neither the RCMP, nor the office of the federal public safety minister, would comment on their security plans for the couple.
Do Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get diplomatic immunity?
Sure, it seems highly unlikely, but should the bizarre arise and Harry or Meghan somehow run afoul of the law here in Canada, there’s no guarantee they’d be afforded any special protections.
“It depends entirely on their as yet somewhat hazy role,” says David Mulroney, a distinguished fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and former Canadian ambassador. People sent officially by the British government, and who are granted diplomatic status, have immunity in Canada.
Harry and Meghan don’t appear to be coming to Canada in that capacity. Even if they came representing the Crown (or Queen), as the Governor General and lieutenants governor, do, that doesn’t necessarily afford them immunity either. “If they were to come in some sort of vice-regal capacity, I would advise them to pay their parking tickets,” Mulroney said. At most, maybe Harry and Meghan will get some courtesy travel document that spares them the lineup at Pearson International Airport, he said.
We have a lot of ‘Crown’ land. Can the couple take some?
Canada is a very large country. And in B.C. all but about six per cent of the land belongs to the Crown, a.k.a. Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
But spokespeople from B.C.’s Ministry of Natural Resources said Tuesday that doesn’t mean she, or Prince Harry, have any special privileges when it comes to using it, the administration of which is governed by the provincial Land Act.
In other words, there’ll be no calling up and reserving an unused portion of land to build a family home for the happy (part-time) royal defectors.
That said, nothing is stopping the couple from making an application to use Crown land for residential purposes, if they wanted. It happens all the time through the province’s Residential Program for Crown land. The province has a policy on when it approves and disapproves applications for residential uses of Crown land, and the first requirement is that residential use must be the “highest and best” use of that particular piece of land.
Will U.K. tabloids dog them wherever they go?
One of the reasons the Duke and Duchess are looking to back off from royal life is to escape the scrutiny of the British press — particularly the tabloid papers that have dragged the Duchess for everything from the way she held her baby bump to whether or not she was in contact with her father.
But if a quiet life is what the couple is after, they’re unlikely to find it in Canada — at least not at first.
It’s true that Canada doesn’t have the same competitive, national gossip media that exists in the U.K., said Alfred Hermida, former British Broadcasting Corp. journalist and professor at the University of British Columbia school of journalism.
“But it’s hard to see how the (British) tabloids are not going to be hiring freelancers or paparazzi to try to figure out where they are in Canada,” he said.
Plus, the couple’s move to Canada makes them arguably more newsworthy.
While participating as full-time members of the Royal Family, they captured the public’s curiosity and attention because of their royal status — a public preoccupation made obvious by the popularity of television shows such as The Crown. Taking a step back from royal duties changes the stakes.
“There’s now a public interest in figuring out: How do royals carve out a new role for them that goes beyond the traditional roles of the past?” Hermida said.
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