Harry and Meghan taking private six-week break in Canada and will return in New Year

21 December 2019, 08:31 | Updated: 21 December 2019, 09:30

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have taken a break to Canada
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have taken a break to Canada. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have gone to a private retreat in Canada for a six-week break and will remain there until the new year.

Harry and Meghan were rumoured to be spending their break over the festive period in the country, and the speculation was confirmed by a spokeswoman today, who said the couple were enjoying "private family time" in the country.

The spokeswoman said: "The decision to base themselves in Canada reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both."

Prince Harry sent a Christmas message to children of British service personnel
Prince Harry sent a Christmas message to children of British service personnel. Picture: Scotty's Little Soldiers

They have been introducing their baby son Archie to the "warmth of the Canadian people" and the beauty of the country's landscape, the spokeswoman added.

"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.

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It comes as Prince Harry released a video in which he dressed as Father Christmas for a children's charity.

He wore the red-and-white Santa hat and wihte beard in a video message for the Scotty's Little Soldiers charity. The video was played to children who had lost their parents in conflict zones while serving with the British armed forces.

Harry sent his festive wishes to nearly 200 children at a party put on by the Scotty's Little Soldiers charity earlier this month.

He told them he wanted to "encourage you guys to look around and realise that you are part of a family".

The Duke went on: "Having met some of you a few years ago, or most of you, I know how incredibly strong you are.

"So yes, losing a parent is incredibly hard but I know that every single one of you by helping each other out that you will have an amazing future ahead of you and a fantastic Christmas as well.

"Your parents, they will never be forgotten and you will never be forgotten."

The duchess, a former actress, lived and worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama Suits and the couple were famously pictured together when Meghan joined her then-boyfriend Harry at the 2017 Invictus Games in the Canadian city.

The Sussexes are likely to have spent the US Thanksgiving celebrations, which this year fell on November 28, with the duchess' mother Gloria Ragland.

It has already been announced they will not be joining the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at Sandringham on Christmas Day, as they are taking a break.

The Queen is said to be supportive of the Sussexes' plans and it follows the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's past decision to spend Christmas with Kate's parents and not with the Queen.

Over the past year, Harry and Meghan have faced reports of a rift, first between Meghan and Kate and then between Harry and his brother William.

In a television documentary broadcast in October, Harry, when asked about the situation, said he loved his brother dearly but they were "on different paths at the moment" and have "good days" and "bad days" in their relationship.

William, the Queen and other senior royals were said to have been left "very worried" about the Sussexes after their emotional appearance on the ITV programme, filmed on their recent tour to Africa.

Harry described his mental health and the way he deals with the pressures of his life as a matter of "constant management".

Meghan admitted feeling vulnerable, and spoke of the difficulty in coping with intense tabloid interest, saying: "It's not enough to just survive something, that's not the point of life. You have got to thrive."

The couple's high-profile visit to Africa, carried out at the request of the Government, was overshadowed on the penultimate day when the duke condemned the British tabloid press for bullying his wife, as Meghan launched a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers.

The duchess is suing over an alleged breach of copyright and privacy after the Mail on Sunday published a private letter between her and her estranged father.

The newspaper has said it stands by its story and will be "defending this case vigorously".

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