‘We had a VIP arrival,’ Victoria airport confirms amid royal buzz

Amid the buzz that Meghan Markle has returned to Canada, and perhaps Vancouver Island, Victoria airport confirmed they had “a VIP arrival” on Thursday.

“All I can say we had a VIP arrival facilitated late yesterday evening," said Rod Hunchak, media authority for Victoria International Airport. Hunchak said the airport received notification that a VIP person was en route to the airport and special protocols were put in place. The person arrived between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., he said.

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Rumour going around the airport Friday was that Meghan had returned to the area to pick up her eight-month-old son, Archie, and was heading to Los Angeles to see her mother, according to an airport volunteer.

Meghan was reportedly spotted at the Sidney Pier Hotel Friday morning, but the hotel did not respond to a request to confirm the sighting.

Bruce Hallsor, spokesman for the Victoria branch of Monarchist League of Canada, said ideally the royals will put down roots in south Vancouver Island but if there was such a plan he’d expect he would have some sort of notice.

“That’s why I’m quite confident there’s no plan,” Hallsor said.

While there’s been discussion between senior members of the Royal Family and Prince Harry and Meghan about their intentions to “step back” from royal duties and make North America their part-time home, the couple are far from having made concrete decisions, he said.

Hallsor said he receives major communications through the Monarchist League of Canada. He has dined with the Queen and Prince Charles. Although he didn’t receive notice of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s intention to spend their Christmas holidays at the Milles Fleurs estate in North Saanich, he would expect some notice if and when they were to set up a temporary home here and perform royal duties.

Hallsor suspects the North Saanich estate where Prince Harry, Meghan and their son Archie stayed in December is not their new North American home. That could as likely be Vancouver or Ottawa, he said.

“There’s a lot of possibilities but clearly they’ve expressed they’ve fallen in love with North Saanich so that’s good news for us,” said the Monarchist League spokesman.

For the most part, Canadians will likely respect Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s privacy just as they did when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Government House in Victoria in 2016, said Hallsor.

If the couple chooses to spend more time on Vancouver Island, they may find the quieter life they’re looking for.

Store owner Chris Stephen kept quiet about her chance encounter with Prince Harry for more than two weeks after he visited her downtown Sidney shop. Stephen said she didn’t even recognize the Duke of Sussex at first.

When she went to offer him assistance, Stephen realized the prince looked familiar, but couldn’t place him. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Where do I know him from?’ ” she said.

The first name she blurted out was Prince Andrew, Harry’s uncle who made headlines recently about his personal relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

That’s when the man accompanying Harry asked Stephen to be discreet, and they stepped into the back of the store to carry on the conversation. Harry told Stephen he was doing his best impression of a Canadian accent to blend in.

“He laughed and he said, ‘I can’t believe you said I look like Prince Andrew,’ ” Stephen said.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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