Canada locals vow to protect Harry and Meghan
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Victoria (Canada) (AFP)
The new neighbors have been spotted out hiking and down at the farmers' market, but residents of North Saanich say they will ensure privacy for Harry and Meghan at their Canadian island hideaway.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, along with their baby son Archie, are living at the scenic, wooded property of Mille Fleurs on Vancouver Island after exiting from their royal roles.
They planned their shock announcement while staying over Christmas and New Year at the luxurious multimillion-dollar house, which is tucked away behind tall trees and a dark metal gate at the end of a private road.
And the couple are now back together there after Harry finalized the details of their new life and flew back from London.
Residents walking dogs on a path near the house told AFP that they opposed intrusion into Harry and Meghan's new Canadian set-up, and were proud of the local instinct to give them space.
"We don't like it. Leave them in peace," said Anne Girling, adding she had met Meghan jogging on a trail nearby and they wished one another "Good morning."
Sue Starkey, another dog walker, said it felt special when she heard baby Archie had experienced his first snow in the neighborhood.
She described the area as a "really friendly" community.
"What I've been really proud of is how our neighborhood has been so respectful and giving them space. And, you know, not getting over the top and trying to peek in," she said.
"I'm really happy they're here and I hope they can find some peace."
- Attention is 'Not Canadian' -
Locals often walk through a patch of forest just steps away from the home as an occasional seagull and bald eagle wheels overhead.
Businesses where Harry and Meghan have dropped in, including the Fickle Fig Farm Market and the Deep Cove Market, declined interview requests from AFP.
In Sidney, a small seaside town a short drive away, Rachel Remouch, a university student and barista at a coffee shop, said she saw Harry and Meghan hiking in Horth Hill, a popular forest park.
"It's hard for a small town trying to keep it quaint and peaceful. We're not used to big frenzies," she said, adding people naturally kept their distance from the couple.
"I think it's really cool they're really sticking up for themselves, trying to separate themselves from the monarchy. She reminds me a lot of Diana."
A smiling Meghan, 38, was photographed with Archie taking their dogs for a walk in Horth Hill on Monday.
Another local, Laurie Kelly, said she was unhappy how North Saanich had found itself at the center of global attention.
"It's not Canadian," she said. "We're all about giving people space, the freedom to live, enjoy our beautiful country.
"They've chosen to come here, so it should be an honor. Instead it's a feeding frenzy ... None of us are happy about it. I feel strongly we need to let them be and live their lives."
But Meghan and Harry may not be in North Saanich for long.
According to local reports, the couple are looking to buy a beachside house in Vancouver or possibly in Toronto.
© 2020 AFP