OPINION: B.C. stands to profit regally from having Prince Harry and Meghan as residents

Many of us have come to British Columbia to reinvent, even escape.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle picked up on this fact somehow amid the fake facts that dog them in the tabloids. Now they will be stationed part time near the appropriately named Royal City, the nobility equivalent of climate change refugees choosing our province’s environs.

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Theirs is a very different move for climate change, of course — more of a culture change that shifts the temperature gauge by some degrees from the incessant light on the Windsor family. Of course, their determination to use Canada as a form of sunblock from the paparazzi is likely an ambitious exercise in denial, because they will be watched more than the rare birds on Vancouver Island. Someone must have certainly bought a URL to record the sightings.

Let us also get a bit of a grip here on the sensationalized take of their Rexit. This is not exactly the millennial version of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. This is the sixth in line to the throne, not the King in the wings, married to a divorced actress who has been a gust of oxygen into the tent. They can help, not hurt the cause of the overall House.

That the Queen has given this imperial commute across nine time zones her blessing is further evidence that she’s, at age 93, a true grown-up and in utter control of The Firm. We Canadians would hope, too, that she will also be the Bank of Grandmom — or tap into the Bank of Dad — and pay for their nest from the rest; if not, it will be fair to ask that the regrouping 30-somethings demonstrate a commitment to Canada beyond residency and dependency.

Regardless, their presence in a safe, sophisticated home is a nice statement on where they will live and who they will be. What the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will do is their business, but there are opportunities galore in how they disburse their time and resources nearest their new abode.

Which is why, for a business publication, it is worth noting their economic impact. It will be positive.

Her commitment to gender equality, his to the fight against HIV/AIDS, hers to the condemnation of modern slavery, his to the role of sport in society, theirs on mental health awareness, conservation, the arts — you get the point, they’re pretty dedicated. As they apply their energy, British Columbia is bound to benefit.

Yes, it is possible to be snarky and mention some of the jobs: for the security detail, for the helicopter pilots to bring them to the mainland if they select the island as their home, and for the freelance photojournalists who will be paid in British pounds.

Mostly, though, as they settle into the colony, they can be hefty additions. If they so choose — and of course they should — they can raise a lot of money for a number of important charities, pulling funds out of rich Canadians rather than rich Brits.

She could raise the profile of our film and television sector in one scene alone. Same, if she decides, to further her fashion bent and work with anyone local. They could be avatars, and pragmatic ones, for the importance of the environment in our prosperity. A nod here and there to almost anything will raise its public reputation. They’re bound to be tourist attractions of some sort, but you have to hope not intruded ones.

In short, their status — even if they lose their titles — confers gigantic opportunity arising from their responsibility. They are establishing a 21st century franchise of the family and affording it another wave of redefinition, just as his mother and grandmother did in acceding to the celebrity nature of royalty and leveraging it for general good. Only they are not doing it entirely in England.

Fair enough, some of what they are doing is to get out of the incessant glare that the British press can press upon you like none other — they are at least as much running from as running to — but we aren’t a fussy people when it comes to anyone abroad bringing us attention. And they will do that. Not many will be anything less than delighted as a result.

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.

 

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