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How 'Megxit' May Wind Up Settling Down In Canada

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Megxit (ph) has the U.K. all abuzz. We're talking, of course, about the duke and duchess of Sussex, aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who say they want to step back from their duties as royals. Now they are in negotiations with the queen over what that will look like in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, their move is also prompting a lot of hand-wringing in Canada, reported to be where the couple wants to move at least part time.

Joining us now from Ottawa is Evan Dyer, national reporter with the CBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Evan Dyer, welcome.

EVAN DYER: Thanks for having me.

KELLY: First of all, can they just move to Canada if they feel like it? What are the immigration rules on this?

DYER: Well, actually, Canada - of the four core Commonwealth nations - the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada - Canada's the only one that doesn't have a constitutional role for any member of the royal family other than the queen herself. So as far as Canadian law is concerned, Harry is just a regular U.K. citizen. Megan is a regular U.S. citizen. That actually gives her a couple of advantages over him. For example, she can apply for visas under NAFTA. But both of them would - if they wanted to really settle and reside in Canada, they would have to come through the immigration process.

However, having said that, anyone with money can sort of get around this because you can come to Canada on a six-month tourist visa and simply leave the country for a day just before that visa runs out, hop over to Washington state from Vancouver, for example, and then come back and reset the clock for another six months. So if they did want to come here and actually take up residency, it looks like Meghan has more options because Canada has a points-based immigration system. You get points for education, which Megan has more of. She has a university degree, unlike Prince Harry.

KELLY: Right.

DYER: And she also has work experience in Canada - seven years living in Toronto and working in Canada. So she might very well be in a position to sponsor him...

KELLY: Oh, OK.

DYER: ...Rather than the other way around.

KELLY: Because she has a track record of living there and paying taxes...

DYER: That's right.

KELLY: ...And being a law-abiding resident - OK.

DYER: And connections to Canada do count for points.

KELLY: OK. Now, all this said, they, of course, are not just your average typical Englishman and American moving here. I read The Globe and Mail. The Canadian newspaper had an editorial this week saying the royal family can't live in Canada, that they should be told they can't move here. Explain.

DYER: Right.

KELLY: What is the reasoning there?

DYER: Well, you know, Canadians are not really overwhelmingly fond of the British monarchy. I mean, in polls, we've consistently seen that there is a slightly larger number of people who'd like to do away with it than keep it, and the reason that that hasn't happened is because apathy actually scores even higher than either of those two options.

KELLY: Right.

DYER: So Canadians don't want to reopen the Constitution and deal with Quebec and all those complicated issues, so that's why they haven't made any changes. But Canadians that do like the monarchy - even those who think it works well believe it works well because it's far away, and so it's this distant symbol. It's not in your face. Canadians aren't paying the costs for it like the British, and this is a key difference. Even Canadians who like the monarchy don't like paying for it.

KELLY: Are polls out showing whether people think this is a great idea and good PR, or are they thinking, how on earth might we get stuck with this?

DYER: Well, there was an initial poll that showed that a small majority of Canadians were welcoming to the idea of them moving here, that they like that idea. But then there was a follow-up poll that raised the question of covering their security costs, and a much larger majority of Canadians said no way to that. So there are people who certainly like the idea of these two big celebrities coming here, but the actual attachment to the monarchy tends to be strongest among Canadians who have connections to Britain, who are descended from British people. And that is a minority of Canadians.

This is, again, one of the differences between, say, Australia and New Zealand and Canada. Canada's a much less English British country than either of those two. For one thing, we have a very large French-speaking population that has no attachment to the British monarchy. And then there's just Canadians from all over the world, you know? We have Canadians from former British colonies. Like, my own family are from Ireland, you know? They have no attachment to the British crown. Canadians from Jamaica, from India - so about 70% of the country really has no attachment to Britain, and that obviously affects how they feel about the British monarchy.

KELLY: That is Evan Dyer of the CBC. Thanks so much.

DYER: My pleasure.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOFI TUKKER SONG, "BABY I'M A QUEEN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.