The Duke of Sussex today began his new life in Canada with Meghan Markle and their eight-month-old son Archie away from the Royal Family, after arriving in the country on a British Airways flight last night.
Prince Harry travelled from London Heathrow to Vancouver on a BA plane, hours after completing his final engagement as a fully-fledged royal at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in Greenwich, South East London.
He arrived at Vancouver International Airport last night following a ten-hour journey on a Boeing 747, then boarded a WestJet plane to make the short journey onto Victoria Airport on Vancouver Island to join the rest of his family.
While he flew, he missed his brother William’s first solo reception at Buckingham Palace where he ushered in a new era for the royals – and even gave Harry a mention in his welcoming speech, saying: ‘The African continent holds a very special place in my heart. It is the place my father took my brother and me shortly after our mother died.’
That followed Harry’s emotional speech in London’s Chelsea on Sunday night, saying he had ‘no other option’ but to give up his official royal duties and forge a new life in Canada, where his wife and son are setting up home.
Meanwhile it was claimed that Harry was given no choice but to agree the deal which allowed him to step down, with the Queen saying his decision must not overshadow other royals’ high-profile engagements this week.
Prince Harry has arrived in Canada to join Meghan and son Archie, after agreeing a deal to step back as senior royals.
The Duke of Sussex had earlier attended the UK-Africa investment summit in London, where he met with the prime minister.
A palace source told the Daily Mirror: ‘It was made abundantly clear to Harry: agree to this and then you can go. By his own admission it was not under the terms he wanted but he had no other option.
‘There was no halfway house, no half in- half-out arrangement, and this was the only one on the table. Meghan and Harry were so desperate to get out they had no choice – and, on the face of it, it looks like they have given up a considerable amount.’
Last night, Harry landed at Vancouver Airport on BA85. He was seen leaving the plane by the back staircase wearing a blue beanie and jeans with a backpack over his shoulders, with two security guards escorting him.
He was then whisked away in a black minivan to continue his journey with a 25-minute hop over to Victoria. He flew via WestJet, the same carrier that Meghan is said to have taken, landing at Victoria around 9.45pm local time.
Officials at the airport closed the third-floor public viewing area shortly before he landed. The duke was then driven the last couple of miles in a silver SUV to the £11million oceanside home for an emotional family reunion.
A woman on the flight from Vancouver to Victoria told the Mirror: ‘Harry was one of the first ones off the flight and was carrying his own bag. You could tell after a long flight from London he was tired and agitated.
‘But as he saw the car his mood instantly changed. I couldn’t be sure but it looked like Meghan was in the back waiting for him. ‘Whoever it was he was very pleased to see them.’
The Sussexes have called the mansion home for the past two months. The transatlantic flight – which arrived six minutes late – was Harry’s goodbye to the royal life that he has lived since his birth.
Now he will no longer use his courtesy HRH title – although the Queen did not formally strip it. He will be known simply as the Duke of Sussex.
Harry’s last act as a fully-fledged royal was to attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London yesterday afternoon, where he held a 20-minute meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He also had a private bilateral meeting with Moroccan Prime Mininster Saad-Eddine El Othmani, Malawian President Peter Mutharika, and Filipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique, at the request of the Government.
But he pointedly did not hang around in London to go to the reception hosted by William. It was a stepping stone for William in the long preparation for him becoming king and showcased the Royal Family’s new order post-Harry.
An Instagram post following Harry’s appearance at the UK-Africa Investment Summit yesterday said: ‘The Duke of Sussex’s love for Africa is well known – he first visited the continent at the age of 13 and more than two decades later, the people, culture, wildlife and resilient communities continue to inspire and motivate him every day.’
Harry was at a formal private dinner at the Ivy in Chelsea for Sentebale, the charity supporting young people affect by HIV and Aids that he founded in 2006, when he effectively made a leaving speech on Sunday night.
He told invited guests: ‘What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.’
The Sussexes wanted to remain as working royals, but not prominent members, and drop their public funding so they could become financially independent – a dual role many commentators said was fraught with problems.
Critics have accused the couple of turning their backs on the monarchy to enjoy the freedom of being able to take on commercial ventures.
Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms and the man who, alongside the Queen, approved Meghan’s coat of arms as Duchess of Sussex, said a halfway house arrangement is ‘unsatisfactory’.
Giving his personal opinion, he told the Times: ‘I don’t think it’s satisfactory. One cannot be two things at once. You either are (royal) or you’re not.’
Meanwhile, Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, wrote in the Telegraph that Harry was ‘devoted to the Armed Forces’ and described his stepping down from military roles as ‘a terrible shame’.
He said: ‘One of the most privileged men in the land, there were many people who did not want him to put his life on the line in the battle zone of Afghanistan where so many British troops were killed and maimed.
‘Unlike most soldiers, he had to personally fight the system to get himself into action. But in the face of opposition from a government worried by the risk to national prestige if he was killed, wounded or captured, he eventually arrived in Afghanistan ‘with butterflies in my stomach’.’
Colonel Kemp added: ‘Soldiers who served alongside him during his two tours in Afghanistan, on the ground and in the air, have spoken of Harry’s leadership and courage, of his down-to earth approach to ordinary soldiers and of his devotion to his comrades in arms.’
Harry’s brother, the Duke of Cambridge, continues with a busy schedule of royal duties, a day after delivering a speech at a Buckingham Palace reception for summit delegates.
Today, William will attend a meeting of the United for Wildlife Taskforce at St James’s Palace. The duke, who is president of United for Wildlife, will make a speech during the session.