The Duke and Duchess announced they are making plans to split their time between the U.K. and North America — but where exactly is still in question
It’s official: In an unprecedented decision, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are stepping back as senior members of the Royal Family, and making plans to split their time between the U.K. and North America.
But where exactly do they plan to go once they step away from their current home base of Frogmore Cottage in Windsor (which they plan to keep as a residence for the foreseeable future)? While it’s too soon to tell, royal experts have a number of hypotheses about where they may land with 8-month-old Archie in tow — both stateside and in the Commonwealth country of Canada.
PEOPLE’s four best guesses, in no particular order? The Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver Island, and Los Angeles and New York City in the United States.
It’s no secret that Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, have history with the North American country of Canada, in which Toronto is its largest city (though not the capital — that’s Ottawa!). Canada is part of the Commonwealth, a group of nations with close ties to the Crown.
Meghan is comfortable in Toronto, having called it home for years while she filmed her hit legal drama Suits, and she was living there when she and Harry first began dating. In fact, the couple’s first public appearance together was in support of Harry’s Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017.
After spending plenty of time there while dating, Meghan and Harry have many close friends in the area, such as Jessica Mulroney, a stylist married to Canadian television host Ben Mulroney, who is former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s oldest son.
Look-alike pals Meghan and Jessica have been close for years — with Jessica hosting Meghan’s baby shower and her kids walking in the royal wedding — and a scroll through Mulroney’s Instagram shows the pair jetting off on beach getaways, striking silly poses in a Soho House photo booth, supporting the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and generally adoring each other’s company.
In addition to feeling like a home away from home with a support system in place, Toronto is also a major entertainment hub, so if Meghan ever decided to go back into the film industry, she would be in the right place.
Meghan grew up in sunny California — born, raised and educated in L.A. — so there’s no doubt the city feels like a home to her. Beyond that, Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, is a social worker and yoga instructor in L.A., and the mother-daughter duo are said to have a very close relationship.
It would therefore be unsurprising if Meghan wanted to move to L.A. out of a desire to be closer to her mother and allow her son Archie to grow up closer to his maternal grandmother — if only for part of the year.
It may also be the only way for the family to be geographically close to Ragland, as a neighbor told PEOPLE in May 2018 that Ragland had shared with someone else in the area “that Meghan wanted to move her.”
However, her neighbor said at the time, “Doria didn’t want to hear about it. She likes her neighborhood and plans to stay for now at least.”
L.A. is also the epicenter of the film and entertainment industry, so, again, if Meghan ever decided to go back into acting, she would be in the right city to do it.
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A gorgeous island on the West Coast of Canada, Vancouver Island is where Harry and Meghan spent several weeks over the holiday season with baby Archie and Meghan’s mother. The palace confirmed the trip to the Commonwealth nation prior to Christmas, noting in a statement, “The decision to base themselves in Canada reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both.”
The couple gushed about their stay on the idyllic island (which is located on the Pacific Ocean in the Canadian province of British Columbia) upon their return, visiting Canada House, the home of the High Commission of Canada to the U.K., to show their appreciation for what the couple’s office said was “the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay.”
Meghan revealed that Archie was in awe of the natural beauty of Canada, and the family enjoyed their ability to fly under the radar in such a peaceful, relaxing area of the world (with a gorgeous, temperate climate to boot), where they could jog, hike, eat and do more activities without being harassed.
It would only make sense that the Duke and Duchess may want to enjoy more of both the nature and privacy Vancouver Island has to offer and may consider finding their own space there as a North American home base.
Beyond the beauty and luxury of anonymity on the island, Vancouver proper is also very close to Vancouver Island (nope, surprisingly Vancouver is not actually located on Vancouver island), and it too is one of the biggest cities in Canada. The royals would therefore have access to all things metropolitan, including a major airport, a blossoming film industry, a thriving arts scene and more.
New York City
While Meghan may have grown up in L.A., she has revealed in the past that New York City holds a piece of her heart. The Duchess has spent plenty of time in the Big Apple as both a commoner and a royal, from extended periods of time filming TV shows like Suits and CSI: NY to spending several days there for her baby shower for Archie.
The royal mom wrote about her love for the city in a June 2014 post on her now-defunct lifestyle blog, The Tig.
“The memories of filming the pilot for Suits, the fast frenetic energy only lulled by my morning jog through Central Park, the quintessential Manhattan bravado, the elderly ladies who lunch at Bergdorfs (draped in diamonds, nursing their martinis, watching the day go by against the backdrop of Kelly Wearstler papered walls) – these are a few of the reasons I love New York,” Meghan wrote. “But it’s the food, the mother f-ing fantastic, crave-worthy food, that keeps me wrapped around its little finger.”
Meghan has also been known to catch a Broadway show — she shared a touristy pic holding a Hamilton Playbill in front of a yellow cab with pal Priyanka Chopra on her now-deleted Instagram — and get sporty. She told Citiphile that she’ll fit in a run along the West Side Highway and she’s been known to catch a New York Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden.
Beyond being smitten with the city itself, Meghan is obviously comfortable in New York and has several friends in the area. There is plenty to do and see and culture to be absorbed by Archie and the rest of her family. Plus, if Meghan ever decides to go back into film or the entertainment industry, New York is a major hub.
New York is also home to the headquarters of the United Nations, an organization that Meghan has dedicated her time to in the past.
It is also the closest geographically to the U.K. of all the potential cities listed so far.