The royal couple celebrated New Year's Day with a hike

By Erin Hill
January 02, 2020 06:06 PM
Advertisement

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry kicked off their New Year with a relaxing hike during their vacation in Canada — and a surprise encounter with a local couple.

The royal parents, who spent the holidays in Canada with baby Archie and Meghan’s mom Doria Ragland, were out for a hike on New Year’s Day when they spotted a young couple struggling to take a photo with a selfie stick.

“We’ve been doing this hike on New Year’s Day for the past two years. We took a little picnic out and we were finishing up and trying to get some selfies with the nice backdrop when a woman came up to us and asked if we wanted her to take our photo,” Asymina Kantorowicz, 29, tells PEOPLE after first sharing her story with CTV News Vancouver Island.

“We had noticed the group before, it was otherwise pretty secluded. They had two dogs with them and we wanted to pet one,” added Kantorowicz, who happens to be a producer for CTV News and lives on Vancouver Island.

Kantorowicz, who was with her boyfriend Iliya Pavlovic, didn’t realize who the woman was at first until she noticed a famous face among the group of three — Meghan’s good friend and fellow Suits star Abigail Spencer. She then realized the woman taking their photo was the Duchess of Sussex herself.

“I’m a Suits fan and I first noticed Abigail and then I looked up and realized it was Meghan taking the photo. Then I looked back at the group and realized Prince Harry was there too!” she says.

Iliya Pavlovic and Asymina Kantorowicz in a photo taken by Meghan Markle
| Credit: Asymina Kantorowicz

“I couldn’t believe who it was. There was Meghan smiling at me, waiting to take the photo and it was just shock at that moment and disbelief,” Kantorowicz says.

“The only thing I could think to say to her was, ‘There’s only so much that selfie sticks can do,’ ” Kantorowicz adds. “She laughed and said something like, ‘We’ll have to take a good photo then,’ and then Harry said, ‘No pressure.’ ”

Credit: The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust/Twitter

“She was just super friendly,” says Kantorowic. “Honestly, it was just so nice of them. We wouldn’t have seen them if they hadn’t approached us. She saw us struggling to take photos.”

Meghan, who was wearing a rain jacket, took three photos of the couple before leaving with the group, which included Meghan’s beloved beagle Guy and the royal couple’s new pup.

“She handed me the phone and said, ‘Happy New Year!’ and we said, ‘Thanks and happy New Year,” Kantorowic adds.

“She seemed happy and down to earth — she was just enjoying her New Year’s hike with her husband and friend. She and Harry seemed really happy — like a happy newly married couple. I wish baby Archie had been there! I hope they’re enjoying their stay on Vancouver Island.”

Meghan and Harry previously shared that they were “spending private family time in Canada.”

Prince Harry and son Archie
| Credit: Sussex Royals

“The decision to base themselves in Canada reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both,” the palace said in a statement on Dec. 20. “Whilst this email confirms the country they are taking their family time in, for security reasons we will not be releasing any further details and request that their privacy is respected.”

Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

It continued, “The Duke of Sussex has been a frequent visitor to Canada over many years, and it was also home to The Duchess for seven years before she became a member of the Royal Family. They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son.”

Meghan and Harry shared a couple of candid photos over the holiday season, including a sweet snap of the family of three in front of a Christmas tree with baby Archie crawling towards the camera. A second photo, which a royal source confirms was taken by Meghan over the Thanksgiving holiday, shows Harry standing in front of a serene lake with Archie in his arms.