'They don't need to be bothered': How Harry and Meghan's new neighbours are protecting their privacy
TORONTO -- Despite their long lens, visiting paparazzi have had difficulty snapping photographs of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan in their new home on Vancouver Island due, in part, to the reluctance of water taxi owners to transport them.
Island Water Taxi owner Reg Kirkham said he’s refused several requests from members of the media in recent weeks who wished to tour the area for a glimpse of the royal couple.
“We’re just not believers in invading people’s privacy, especially Harry and Meghan and what they’re going through,” he told CTV News Channel on Friday. “They don’t need to be bothered.”
Kirkham, who operates his private charter in the Gulf Islands, which is located between Vancouver Island and mainland B.C., said he’s not the only one turning down potential customers out of respect for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s privacy.
“I’ve had other business fellows who charter boats who have had calls also, and we aren’t available,” he said. “We’re a very small-type community so we don’t like strangers just hanging out in bushes with cameras and stuff like that.”
Kirkham, who lives in the small seaside town of Sidney, B.C. on Vancouver Island, described the area’s residents as tight-knit, but considerate of each other’s space.
“We’re one of the most beautiful places in the world. We’re safe and we’re quiet and we just do our own thing,” he explained. “We have a very high-profile wealthy neighbourhood with multi-billionaire islands and all these things, but we all just work together to look after each other.”
Prince Harry, Meghan and their baby Archie have been temporarily living at a luxurious waterfront mansion in North Saanich since December when they opted to spend the holidays there instead of in England with the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family.
In early January, the couple came under intense media scrutiny with reporters from around the world descending on Vancouver Island in the wake of the couple’s bombshell announcement they would be stepping back from official royal duties and splitting their time in Canada and the U.K.
Kirkham said it’s been a “busy time” in the area for everyone because of their new famous neighbours.
Anne Girling, a resident on the island, said she met the Duchess of Sussex while she was out jogging on a nature trail and they wished each other “Good morning.” She said she’s opposed to the intense intrusions by the media.
“We don’t like it. Leave them in peace,” she told AFP in January.
Another resident, Sue Starkey, said she’s “proud” that her neighbourhood has been respectful of the royals’ privacy.
“I'm really happy they're here and I hope they can find some peace,” she told AFP.
While Kirkham said he has a relative who “bumped” into Meghan while on a walk in the neighbourhood, he said he hasn’t spotted the royals himself and he doesn’t have any plans to try to catch a glimpse of them, either.
“I haven’t even driven through the neighborhood because I’ve been here 45 years. I know the neighbourhood. I’m not looking for that type of excitement,” he said.
With files from Agence France-Presse