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TORONTO—Meghan Markle is now back in Canada, reportedly reunited with baby Archie on Vancouver Island. Prince Harry is still in the UK, negotiating the terms and conditions of their exit from “senior royal” duties.
In all the furor heard this week in response to the couple’s Instagram bombshell—a break-up on social media that struck me as the royal family update of Carrie Bradshaw’s then-boyfriend, Berger, famously dumping her via Post-it-Note on Sex and the City—the news in Toronto of an imminent royal power couple arrival has been greeted with much chatter. Meghan is one step closer to freedom, and perhaps several more closer to her favorite skincare guru.
The Duchess of Sussex counted on the expertise of W SkinCare’s founder, Lorinda Zimmerman, for years when she was an actress living in Toronto, and publicly fan-girl’ed over her during that time. Should the royal couple make Canada their home, Zimmerman would be closer for active duty.
“Low-level Laser Therapy” was Meghan’s treatment of choice at W SkinCare. “Not to be confused with a facial,” a source close to Zimmerman hammered home to this reporter, referring to the non-ablative beams of light, aired with Swiss-made photo-botanicals, that constitute the glow-giving treatment.
Tighter. Brighter. Dewier: a metaphor of hope, if there ever was one, as Meghan perhaps prepares a return to Toronto—this time with her Prince and baby Archie in tow.
Talk of the latest royal hullabaloo was everywhere in the city, coming on the heels of a long holiday stay their family just completed on the other side of Canada in British Columbia. The couple has deep ties to Toronto, specifically—Harry hosted the Invictus Games in the metropolis in 2018; a time which then coincided with his first public outing with Meghan.
Chatter coursed through the congenial school pick-up scene in Rosedale, a posh neighborhood—surely, Archie will do pre-K at Mooredale, one in-the-know mom told me—and it trickled, further down, through Kensington Market, where Meghan once was a regular, getting her boho on amongst its winding rues of butchers, fishmongers, and second-hand shops.
Sotto voce whispers whirled too at Soho House, on Adelaide Street, where Harry once memorably showed up with Meghan for a Halloween party during the earlier days of their courtship.
And while there was a good amount you-go-girl cheerleading about #Megxit, as some are calling it, and as there has been on Twitter at large—some people even pointing out that in a reverse plot-twist Meghan was actually the dashing prince coming in to save the princess trapped in the tower—there were also some questions about the logistics of an actual extended stay.
Patricia Trebel, an astute royal-watcher in Canada, asked in Maclean’s, “While it has never been done before, why shouldn’t royals spend chunks of time outside Britain? After all, Harry’s grandmother is Queen of Canada. And, in time, his father and brother will also be monarchs in Canada…”
However, as Trebel also pointed out, there would be costs, “including paying for staff, accommodation, travel and the security needed to keep them safe while giving them the privacy they crave. There is no chance of picking a small two-bedroom house in Toronto (like the one Meghan had when they were dating). As well, transportation in this vast nation is both expensive and time-consuming.”
Making the rounds, also: a word-to-the-wise by an ex-Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer—one who directed security for US presidents and royals—that the government would likely have a legal obligation to provide security, since the Queen is Canada's head of state.
Larry Busch told the Daily Mail that Canadian taxpayers could be on the hook for millions of dollars a year in security expenses if Harry and Meghan set up a nest there, even part time.
There was this not-so-minor detail, too, spilling from the expressed desire by Harry and Meghan to pursue “financial independence”: what exactly would be the legalities of working from Canada? The royals are not automatically Canadians, and as Philippe Lagassé—a crown expert— surmised, “the Queen has no citizenship, either of Canada or the UK. She personifies the state, hence the authority that bestows citizenship and thus doesn’t require it herself. The other royals are British subjects.”
Interestingly, too, the enthusiasm for Harry and Meghan in some quarters does not necessarily coincide with the results of an exclusive Canadian poll, conducted before this news), and commissioned and published by Hello! Canada about interest levels in the various royals.
Kate, the future queen, is actually Canada's number one royal, the cover of the mag hitting stands Thursday, trumpeted, according to results of its first ever reader-poll. (Meghan did not make the top five!)
No matter, Meghan is now back on Vancouver Island, and speculation is buzzing.
Musing on what their lives might look like, day-to-day, should a sojourn in Toronto happen, this is what local novelist Stephen Marche mused: they will get a Gaggia coffeemaker, invest in Nest security, choose a house with a driveway, get their gourmet grub at Pusateris and Five Thieves (the nick-name for a line of fancy shops in a particularly rarified part of Toronto), maintain subscriptions to Amazon Prime, keep subscriptions to the weekend papers (some of the local dailies, plus a respectable international paper like the Financial Times), and make sure to have live-in suite for grandma Doria.
“This is how everyone in Rosedale lives,” he tweeted.
In terms of Toronto being an ideal choice, he went on: “I have to say: They’re a very Toronto couple. Multicultural family. Weirdly strong ties to English absurdities. He likes violent sports. She’s friends with the Mulroneys. They’ll fit right in.”
The reaction among friends? Unsurprisingly mixed. “What a mess,” said a friend who has both socialized and traveled with Meghan in the past, referring to the news that also hit that the Palace, and all the senior royals, had been, indeed, blindsided by this declaration of independence by Harry and Meghan.
Meanwhile, Meghan’s great confidante, and one-time bridesmaid, Jessica Mulroney—who lives in Toronto with her high-profile family—while saying nothing directly let this Instagram post, quoting Gina Carey, say it all: “A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink.”
Alison Eastwood, the editor-in-chief of Hello! Canada, has, for one, her own thoughts about a possible move to Canada by the power duo—and not only because the royals are her mag’s bread-and-butter. It is because she herself is a Brit who wound up moving to the Great White North.
“Canadians,” she told The Daily Beast, “do have the reputation of being more laid-back than either Brits or Americans and I certainly found, when I moved here, that it has a kinder, gentler vibe and is less frenetic than London. It’s no wonder Canada appeals to both Harry and Meghan. They’re both vulnerable people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. And of course the absence of paparazzi, largely, makes it easier to get around relatively unnoticed.”
Having said that, she cautioned against extrapolating too much into the socio-dynamics of a move. “In the upper echelons of society, lifestyle transcends location—you could be in Mayfair, Bel-Air, the Bridle Path; there really is no vast cultural difference. Right?” Eastwood said. She added: “They will have residences in multiple countries. They consider themselves global citizens and will live their lives accordingly, I’m sure.”
Another endorsement comes from comedian James Mullinger, a Brit who moved to Canada a few years back, and who, in his role as an editor at British GQ in another life, spent the day once with Prince Harry on a photo shoot. A complete convert to his new country, Mullinger encouraged him and Meghan to take the plunge. “Canada is the greatest place in the world to live, work and travel,” he told me.
In some ways, an adjustment would not be terribly hard. Canada, like Britain, is a place where the queen’s face comes on the money! Moreover: it is also where they spell “colour” with a U. On the stranger side of things, it is a country where you can buy milk in bags.
Certainly, it does not hurt that Harry and Meghan both count Justin Trudeau, and his wife, Sophie, as personal friends—something that was acutely driven home with a statement the Prime Minister put on Twitter last month during their visit: “Prince Harry, Meghan, and Archie, we’re all wishing you a quiet and blessed stay in Canada. You're among friends, and always welcome here.”
Having spent seven years in the city, Meghan, of course, knows Toronto, specifically, all too well—though there have been changes since she left. The erstwhile Trump Hotel there was turned into a St. Regis, for one. The Raptors cinched the NBA championships. Moreover, a long-awaited Eataly finally opened in the city just a few months back, on Bay Street.
Psssst, Duke and Duchess: the “Mozzarella Lab,” in particular, at Eataly is just to-die for. File it alway in the Little Black Royal Book, won’t you?