Why Canada is a special place for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: love blossomed, Invictus Games appearance, Archie’s first Christmas and more reasons

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their decision to step back as senior royals with a lengthy statement on Instagram last Wednesday. Prince Harry, 35, travelled to Sandringham on Monday to discuss the next steps with the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge.

Following that meeting, Buckingham Palace released a statement from Her Majesty, which revealed that the Queen and the royal family are supportive of Harry and Meghan’s decision. It added that “there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.” The Duke and Duchess recently spent a six-week break in Canada with eight-month-old son Archie.

 

WATCH: Harry and Meghan visit Canada House

The couple visited Canada House last Tuesday for their first public appearance since November, to thank the High Commissioner for the hospitality they received while staying in the country, with Meghan revealing that baby Archie was in awe of the scenery. The Duchess told diplomats: “My goodness it was just such an incredible time we were able to have there and with our son too. And just to be able to take in the warmth that we experienced from the people also just walk around and just see the beauty of Canada. To see Archie go ‘ahh’ when you walk by and just see how stunning it is, so it meant a lot to us.”

Just a day after their first royal engagement, Harry and Meghan released the statement about their plans and the Duchess returned to Canada to be reunited with Archie. As discussions about their future continue, HELLO! looks at why Canada is such a special place for the Sussexes…

MORE: Inside Meghan Markle’s former Toronto home as Sussexes prepare to split time between UK & North America

It’s where Harry and Meghan’s romance blossomed

After being set up on a blind date by a friend in London, the couple’s relationship was long-distance at first, with Harry travelling to Canada to stay at his girlfriend’s Toronto home. Back in December 2016, Harry reportedly made a 1,700-mile (2,736km) detour to see Meghan following an official visit to the Caribbean.

In their engagement interview, the bride-to-be said: “We never went longer than two weeks without seeing each other, even though we were obviously doing a long-distance relationship. So it’s… we made it work.”

First public engagement

Meghan and Harry at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017

Harry and Meghan made their first public appearance together at the Invictus Games in Toronto in September 2017, holding hands as they arrived to watch wheelchair tennis. Two months later, the couple announced their engagement.

Meghan’s links to Canada

The former actress spent time living and working in Toronto while filming US legal drama Suits and often shared glimpses into her home life on her now-deleted Instagram account. Meghan reportedly lived in a two-storey three-bedroom townhouse, which she shared with her two rescue dogs, Guy and Bogart. She also has a number of friends who live in the country, including Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney, who is married to Ben Mulroney, son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney.

MORE: Prince William and Prince Harry release emotional joint statement about their sibling relationship

Archie’s first Christmas

Archie and Harry in Canada

Harry and Meghan took a six-week break from royal duties during the festive period, spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas with their eight-month-old son Archie in Canada. The Sussexes stayed in British Columbia and were spotted hiking on Vancouver Island, surprising a pair of fellow hikers as Harry and Meghan offered to take their picture.

Harry’s first tour

Diana, William and Harry in Canada in 1991

Harry visited Canada with Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Prince William in October 1991, on one of his first royal tours. Diana took her young sons out on a boat so they could visit Niagara Falls with the trio donning matching blue jackets.

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