So she was pleased Monday when Queen Elizabeth II said she would support the pair as they "create a new life" — and that they would be doing it, at least part of the time, in Canada.
"I love the fact that they chose Canada to be the overseas base," said Kattenhorn, 46. "I think this is a positive outcome for all parties."
The drama surrounding the pair has drawn far more attention in Britain than it has here. The couple's announcement last week came on the day that 57 Canadians were killed in the Iranian shoot-down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 outside Tehran. That's the news that has consumed Canada in recent days.
But developments around the royal couple haven't gone entirely unnoticed here. After Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, said they would be dividing their time between the United Kingdom and North America, some Canadians began lobbying them to come to this Commonwealth realm, where Meghan worked for seven years and the couple visited over the holidays.
“It’s just got to be Canada,” the Toronto Star editorialized, wistfully. “At this point, our hopes are up. The country has so many wonderful things to offer. But, let’s face it, we’re a bit short in the glamor department. A bit of the Sussexes, even part time, could be just what we needed.
“. . . We don’t want to seem too eager. But it’s hard.”
Harry and Meghan have described the country as a “very special” place. Elizabeth, Harry’s grandmother, is queen of Canada, among her other titles. Harry first visited with his parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, in 1991. Meghan lived in Toronto while starring in the USA Network legal drama “Suits.” And it was here that they made their first official appearance as a couple in 2017.
Royal historian Carolyn Harris said Canada has “long been seen as a friendly environment for the royal family.” There’s a history of royals spending long periods of time here on private visits.
Princess Patricia, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, lived here while her father, Prince Arthur, was governor general. Canadians grew to be quite fond of her, even putting her on their $1 bills in 1917. Prince Andrew, Elizabeth’s son, was an exchange student at Lakefield College School in Peterborough, Ontario, in 1977.
“Canadians tend to take less interest in the private lives of public figures,” Harris said. “There isn’t the same culture of paparazzi” as in Britain or the United States.
No paparazzi photos emerged of the family during its recent holiday in British Columbia. The Times Colonist newspaper admitted it knew all along where the family was staying but chose not to divulge the details until the royals left to “err on the side of discretion.”
According to a poll published by Hello! Canada magazine, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is the country’s most popular royal. Meghan and Harry crack the top 10, but they are further down the list.
Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee chain, promised the Sussexes free coffee for life — an offer that backfired on social media. Critics called the preferential treatment for millionaires unseemly, given the company’s history of labor disputes.
Canada has mostly avoided the kind of debate that has raged in Australia and other Commonwealth realms about whether it should have a monarch as its head of state. Harris said that’s largely because severing those bonds would be a convoluted process.
The institution no longer occupies the space in the cultural imagination that it did in the 19th century, when loyalty to the Crown was seen as a positive feature that distinguished Canada from the United States.
“Even though many Canadians do not necessarily follow the details of the royal family unless there is big news,” Harris said, “the monarchy as a political institution is quite entrenched.”
Canadian monarchists took seriously last week’s news that the couple might be coming.
On the day of the couple’s announcement, Robert Finch, chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada, said the group was keeping Harry and Meghan in its “thoughts” and advised against “jumping to conclusions about what may in practice develop” as they carve out their new roles.
Two days later, the group posted a “friendly caution” to the pair on its Facebook page: “Any public support for their desire to occupy a new, hybrid role combining their royal status with more personal freedom could disappear quickly were there to develop a feeling that, even inadvertently, they had in some way showed disrespect to The Queen, whose style is self-effacing and whose watchword is duty.”
Canada’s small anti-monarchist group Republic Now chimed in, too. “More royals quit the monarchy,” it wrote on its Facebook page. “It’s time Canada did too.”
There remain complications for the couple to iron out.
Although Harry’s grandmother is queen of Canada, he’s not a citizen himself. If he and Meghan wished to stay in Canada for more than six months, they would probably need to apply for visas just like everyone else.
Some parts of the country might be friendlier than others. Harris noted sometimes-fraught relationship between the French-speaking province of Quebec and the monarchy.
Other Canadians might raise their hackles, she added, if it emerges that taxpayers and not the independently wealthy prince are footing the bill for his security.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked before the queen’s statement Monday about Canada’s role, said there would be “many discussions to come on how that works.”
“Most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here,” Trudeau told Global News. “But how that looks and what kind of costs is involved, there’s still lots of discussions to be had.”
John Wright’s wife loves Harry and Meghan. Earlier this month, she mused that Harry would make a “really great” governor general, the representative of the monarch in Canada.
On Jan. 7, the day before the couple’s announcement, Wright, a pollster, inspired by his wife’s rumination, put the question to Canadians. More than 60 percent said they would support Harry’s appointment to the role.
Wright said he understands the affection for the prince.
“Harry seems like the kind of bloke you’d like to have a beer with,” he said.
Kattenhorn said she understands why the couple would want to step back from the spotlight: Britain’s tabloids have been “cruel” and “nasty” to Meghan. She hopes the statement from the queen will give the couple more space.
But her goodwill could run out, she said, if Canadian taxpayers were left on the hook for their time here.
“They both have the means,” Kattenhorn said. “They can pay for their own security.”
Jan. 7, 2020 | Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visit Canada House in London, in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in the North American country. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool/AP)
Photos of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, out and about