In January 2020 — as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex publicly contemplated living in Canada part of the year — the RCMP estimated that protecting them and their son while in this country could cost taxpayers nearly $33,000 a month.
According to the Court Circular, which outlines the public activities of members of the Royal Family, Prince Harry had one public visit to Canada during 2017 and 2018 — a week-long trip to attend events in Toronto. The events included the Invictus Games — which Harry founded — a WE Day celebration and a reception for young people who received Duke of Edinburgh gold awards.
Prince Harry’s appearance at the Invictus Games drew widespread media attention because it was one of the first times he was seen in public with Meghan Markle, an American actress living in Toronto.
The pair, who met in July 2016 in London, were engaged in November 2017 and married in May 2018, when Prince Harry was granted the title of Duke of Sussex.
That wasn’t Prince Harry’s only visit to Toronto during that period. In April 2017, paparazzi photographers waiting outside Markle’s home in Toronto’s Seaton Village neighbourhood captured images of Prince Harry arriving at her home during a private, unannounced trip.
It’s not known how many times Prince Harry came to Canada to visit Markle. The RCMP refused to provide a breakdown to explain how it spent $182,430 to protect him during 2017 and 2018. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s office referred questions to the RCMP.
Spokespeople for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Archewell organization did not respond to questions and interview requests from CBC News.
Pursued by the press
Alastair MacPherson, a photographer who has done freelance work for Splash News, said photographers started hanging out around Markle’s house when news came out in the fall of 2016 that she and Harry were dating.
Before everyone knew that they were seeing each other, he was here for some time around Halloween and they went to some Halloween party, he said.
After that happened, people found out that they might be seeing each other and that’s when the reporters and photographers would have been trying to find him.
When Prince Harry visited Markle, six black SUVs with members of Prince Harry’s British security detail could be seen on the residential street, said MacPherson.
Pierre-Yves Borduas, a former deputy commissioner of the RCMP who is now president of PY Safety, said RCMP officers would have accompanied the British security officers.
Prince Harry made a private trip to Toronto in December 2016, detouring to visit Markle on his way home from an official visit of seven Caribbean countries. He also travelled to Toronto on a public trip earlier that year in May — two months before he met Markle — to announce that the 2017 Invictus Games would be held there.
The additional costs to the RCMP for Prince Harry’s security during that period totalled $52,978.
The RCMP incurred $5,726 in costs to protect the Duke and Duchess of Sussex between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019 and no costs at all from Jan. 1, 2014 to March 31, 2016.
Canada’s image is on the line: security expert
When someone like Prince Harry travels to Canada for official duties or a private visit, the RCMP has to assess the potential threats to their safety and provide them with protection, said Borduas.
They still have responsibility, because what if something would happen to that very important person in our country? he said.
The ripple effect … could have a negative reflection on our country and how [seriously] we are taking the security of these types of individuals that are enjoying the hospitality of our country.
While Borduas said he couldn’t explain how the RCMP spent $182,430 in a single year to protect Prince Harry, he said protecting him during the highly publicized, well-attended Invictus Games would cost more than security for a low-profile, private visit.