Welcome to America, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have alighted on these shores and it looks like they will stick around.
When they announced in January that they would be "stepping back" from full-time work as royals, Harry and Meghan said they wanted to live in "North America." At the time, that was widely assumed to mean Canada. In many ways, Canada seemed like a perfect fit. The couple would enjoy much more freedom there than in Great Britain. Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, is also Canada's head of state, thus preserving a link to the royal family.
But then came COVID-19. Harry and Meghan have quit Canada and moved to Los Angeles, apparently for good. A friend of the couple told the media, "The borders were closing and flights were stopping. They had to get out." It seems they wanted to be near Meghan's mother who lives in Los Angeles.
Her father, who lives in Mexico, is 75 and suffered a heart attack two years ago. Thus, he is very much part of the high risk group for the virus. But Meghan continues to be staunchly estranged from him.
Was Meghan and Harry's decision to move to Los Angeles influenced by the Canadian government's refusal to pay for their security? Or were they influenced by the prospect of owing taxes in both Canada and the United States? We may never know.
The timing of the COVID-19 outbreak might be called fortuitous for Harry and Meghan. Before the pandemic, the media closely scrutinized their every move. Now, the couple have some time to fly under the radar as they as adjust to their new lives.
That adjustment has already proven to be far from painless. Harry was duped on a phone call by two Russian pranksters posing as Greta Thunberg and her father. He made extraordinarily unguarded comments about America's president. "I think the mere fact that Donald Trump is pushing the coal industry so big in America, he has blood on his hands," Harry said.
The call would have been a massive news story if the whole world had not been focused on the virus instead. Harry may yet find himself missing royal life. It had many constraints, but he was zealously protected by experienced palace staff. In aninterview, the Russian pranksters said they could not believe how easy it was for them to pull off their hoax. No one bothered to verify their identity.
One person who is paying attention to Harry and Meghan's arrival in the United States is President Trump. He took time from his busy schedule of dealing with the pandemic to Tweet:
"I am a great friend and admirer of the Queen & the United Kingdom. It was reported that Harry and Meghan, who left the Kingdom, would reside permanently in Canada. Now they have left Canada for the U.S. however, the U.S. will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!"
While Trump is a deeply divisive figure, he may finally have expressed an opinion everyone agrees on. Two millionaires - who chose to walk away from royal duties so they could earn millions more - do not deserve to be protected at taxpayer expense. In America, it is every man for himself.
Alexis de Tocqueville pinpointed this mindset as the difference between aristocratic nations and democratic ones like America:
"As social conditions become more equal, the number of persons increases who, although they are neither rich nor powerful enough to exercise any great influence over their fellows, have nevertheless acquired or retained sufficient education and fortune to satisfy their own wants. They owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man. They acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and they are apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands."
Perhaps some of that independent spirit will wear off on the couple now that they're in the United States. Or perhaps we'll just see Harry become "a glorified bag carrier for his wife." Only time will tell.
[Image Credit: CC BY 4.0]