The RCMP will end its security protection of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, over the coming weeks, the office of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced Thursday.
Harry and Meghan, who will stop using their royal titles to pursue financial independence from the British monarchy, have been receiving RCMP protection since November while staying in Canada.
The couple announced last month that they had been living at a seaside mansion on Vancouver Island where they spent the Christmas holidays, and planned to relocate to Canada.
The government had faced questions from the Bloc Québécois about paying for the couple’s security and polls showed Canadians did not think it was appropriate to pay for their protection arrangements.
In a statement, Mr. Blair’s office said the Mounties have been providing security to Harry and Meghan but that service would end in the coming weeks.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing to relocate to Canada on a part-time basis presented our government with a unique and unprecedented set of circumstances,” Mr. Blair’s press secretary Mary-Liz Power said in a statement. “As the Duke and Duchess are currently recognized as Internationally Protected Persons, Canada has an obligation to provide security assistance on an as-needed basis. At the request of the [British] Metropolitan Police, the RCMP has been providing assistance to the Met since the arrival of the Duke and Duchess to Canada intermittently since November 2019. The assistance will cease in the coming weeks, in keeping with their change in status.”
A security expert told The Globe and Mail in January that protecting the couple while they are living in Canada could cost more than $10-million annually.
Chris Mathers, formerly of the RCMP who worked in intelligence but also protection of visitors to Canada, said security has changed significantly in the past few years and that Harry and Meghan will not have much control over the amount of security they would require.
The residence of the Duke and Duchesses would need to be decked out with fences, explosive-detection dogs, closed-circuit television surveillance, alarms and a security team on the ground, said Mr. Mathers, adding they would also need a team to accompany them when they leave their residence.
“They need personal bodyguards all the time. You have to pay those peoples’ salaries. You’ve got to pay for the vehicles they travel in and the aircraft they travel in. You have to pay for the communications equipment they require because it has to be sophisticated so that you can’t listen to it,” he said.
Mr. Mathers said the costs would double when the pair travels separately and that they would require an advance team to conduct security assessments before they go anywhere.
With files from Janice Dickson
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.