Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have chosen to spend Christmas this year away from the rest of the royal family in London, instead travelling across the pond to Canada, a country that holds a special importance for the couple.
Meghan spent years living and working in Toronto while filming Suits, and it's where Harry and Meghan spent the first few months of their relationship, hiding undercover from the world's press as they tried to keep their new blossoming romance a secret.
Now they have returned to Canada, this time to Vancouver Island, a location favoured by celebrities including singer Nelly Furtado and Sex and the City actress Kim Cattrall.
According to the owner of a restaurant in North Saanich, Greater Victoria, Harry and Meghan have been spotted by locals hiking and jogging while on their vacation.
Bev Koffel, who owns the waterfront restaurant Deep Cove Chalet with her husband chef Pierre Koffel, told the Vancouver Sun she has seen the royal couple herself and even met with their security guards to arrange a dinner booking at the restaurant for the Duke and Duchess.
She said Prince Harry has also been seen several times hiking in a region called Horth Hill.
"Horth Hill's become a very popular place now. And they jog around, so they've been seen," Bev said.
"It's kind of exciting. I hope everything goes fine for them. They're breaking away from tradition and I just wish them all the best."
Bev said the Sussex family's security team came to talk to them last week to arrange the visit, but her husband turned down the royal request, because of the level of security required for Harry and Meghan to safely enjoy a meal there.
"They [the security guards] said 'How did you figure out who we were?' And I said 'It wasn't too hard',' she told the newspaper.
She said it was a privilege to have the royals in the area and hoped they would enjoy their precious time away.
"Let them have their peace and quiet. For us to be so lucky to have them in the area, how lucky is that?" said Bev. "I wish them all the privacy they can possibly get. They deserve it."
She added that she had purchased several books as a gift for the Duke and Duchess and planned to send them to the couple.
"I hope to meet them one day. I hope they get my books."
WATCH BELOW: This is what the other members of the royal family were up to on Christmas Day. Story continues after video.
Earlier this week, Buckingham Palace released a statement confirming Harry and Meghan were visiting Canada, a decision that "reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both."
"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," the statement said.
"They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son."
The couple were officially welcomed into the country by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who released a statement on Twitter on December 20.
In November it was revealed that Harry, Meghan and Archie would not be spending Christmas with The Queen and the rest of the royal family, and would be absent from Her Majesty's traditional pre-Christmas lunch, as well as the trip to Sandringham to attend church on Christmas Day.
It's not uncommon for the royals to skip this tradition, however.
Duchess Catherine and Prince William have done the same previously, opting to spend the day with Kate's mother and father in Buckleberry in 2016.
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Australian Women's WeeklyJun 30, 2022