Now that Prince Harry has completed the last of his royal engagements and rejoined Meghan Markle and baby Archie in Canada, they can focus on their family life - and where exactly they’ll be setting up a home base.
During their six-week holiday break, the couple reportedly stayed in a $14 million estate in North Saanich on Vancouver Island, which included ocean views, eight bedrooms and plenty of additional security cameras and guards.
Leading up to Harry's arrival in Canada, Meghan reportedly continued to stay in North Saanich - this time, at a mansion called Mille Fleurs - which started rumors that Harry and Meghan will be settling into a house of their own in the Greater Victoria area soon.
Located at the north end on southern Vancouver Island, North Saanich is "a highly desirable rural-residential area." Three sides of the district are bordered by ocean shoreline, which makes for beautiful waterfront views, but North Saanich is also dedicated to protecting its "rich agricultural interior."
Farms, roadside produce and flower stands are common, as are parks and trails for hiking, cycling and horseback riding.
According to Winston Chan, the senior vice president of sales at Sotheby's International Realty Canada, North Saanich is also home to Lands End, "where celebs and VIPs live a quiet life."
Of several properties currently available in the area, Chan said, "They are right on the water with [a] view of Salt Spring Island, 30 minutes to Victoria city center and only about 10 minutes from Victoria International Airport and BC Ferries terminal."
Meghan already seems to have taken advantage of the area’s outdoor offerings, as she was seen at Horth Hill Regional Park shortly before Harry’s arrival, walking with baby Archie and their two dogs.
To get a better idea of their new day-to-day routine, check out the other activities the southern part of Vancouver Island has to offer - plus, where the Duke and Duchess are expected to move and what those costs entails.
Things to do
Meghan and Harry have mainly been spotted in North Saanich (remember when they helped a couple with their selfie while hiking?), which gives them access to both outdoor activities and more city living in nearby Victoria.
When Harry and Meghan are in need of transportation to and from Vancouver Island, North Saanich is just minutes from the Victoria International Airport (where Meghan was recently seen picking up longtime friend Heather Dorak) and the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.
If the Duke and Duchess are looking for outings that are suitable for baby Archie, there’s the dreamy Butchart Gardens, which have been named a National Historic Site with over 900 bedded plant varieties, lighting displays and fireworks in the summer.
There’s also the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, the Beacon Hill Park’s Children’s Farm and whale watching cruises where you can observe orca and humpback whales as well as sea lions and seals.
Other popular outdoor adventures include kayaking, biking, the hiking trails in Horth Hill Regional Park (which Meghan is already well acquainted with) and even small wineries in Saanich.
There’s also much to do in the way of arts and culture. Popular museums include the Royal BC Museum that’s home to natural and human artifacts, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Maritime Museum and North Saanich’s BC Aviation Museum.
For Meghan, who frequently shared recipes on her former lifestyle blog The Tig, cooking classes at The London Chef might be of particular interest. The cooking school hosts group and private classes in everything from cheese and wine pairings to a Tuscany-inspired date night menu. Plus, it’s owned by Dan and Micayla Hayes, a husband and wife duo originally from London.
If Harry and Meghan are on the hunt for a traditional afternoon tea, there’s always tea at The Empress Hotel, where teas are ethically sourced from the top tea producers in the world and pastries are made in-house with local berries for the strawberry jam and honey from the Empress’ own beehives.
And, Victoria is also home to many trendy boutiques and shops, should Meghan be looking to expand her Canadian designer wardrobe.
North Saanich also holds a weekly farmers market from May through October, where local growers sell seasonal produce, locally raised meat, baked goods, eggs, flowers and other plants and seeds.
But local markets are a staple in the Greater Victoria area throughout the summer months, and many of the restaurants are farm-to-table, with seafood like salmon and shellfish being caught fresh from the surrounding Pacific waters.
If you’re still trying to figure out exactly where Vancouver Island is, the Victoria Visitor Centre notes that it’s actually closer to the US than Canada, and is located off of the west coast of North America
Harry and Meghan are currently staying at the southernmost point of the island in the district of North Saanich, which is about a 30-minute drive from British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria.
According to Vancouver Island real estate specialist Lorne Gait, there are plenty of property options for Harry and Meghan to choose from that are nearby their current estate - with a significantly lower price tag.
“There certainly are some areas on Vancouver Island that would be private, secure, close to airports and would potentially work for exclusive buyers,” Gait said, noting Victoria and North Saanich (where the Duke and Duchess are currently staying) of particular interest.
“If someone is buying closer to Victoria, such a property would likely start at $2 million Canadian dollars,” he said, though they can easily double that, especially when looking for options that afford more privacy.
Should they choose to stay in North Saanich, luxury neighborhoods in the area that might be of particular interest to Harry and Meghan include Lands End, Ardmore, Deep Cove and parts of Sidney. These communities all maintain more rural characteristics that allow for privacy, while still being close to all the city life of Victoria.
“It is normal for these areas to have waterfront properties which are available to purchase,” he added of the ocean views the Duke and Duchess are likely to acquire.
According to Gait, other areas slightly further north like Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach and Courtenay would meet the above criteria when it comes to privacy, views and proximity to airports, but for less than $2 million Canadian dollars.
Meghan’s history with Canada dates back to her Suits days, when she lived in Toronto during filming for the television series, which first aired in 2011. But she’s not the only actor to work in Canada.
Currently, the cast of the CW series Riverdale, which includes Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes, films throughout Vancouver.
Actor Ryan Reynolds, who was born and raised in Vancouver, is another frequent visitor, as is music producer David Foster, who grew up in Victoria and reportedly set Harry and Meghan up with their holiday home in Vancouver Island.
Foster’s wife, American Idol alum Katharine McPhee, is even said to have performed in musicals with Meghan when the two were growing up in Los Angeles.
It’s also a pretty safe bet that the Duke and Duchess’ arrival on Vancouver Island will attract visits from some of their other A-list inner circle.