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  1. ITV Report

'A beautiful way of living': Locals are ready to welcome Harry, Meghan and Archie back to Vancouver Island

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry

Locals on the idyllic Vancouver Island in Canada have a feeling they'll see the Duke and Duchess of Sussex again.

Harry and Meghan spent the last six weeks in the North Pacific "paradise" with the eight-month-old baby Archie on a private holiday away from royal duties.

Within a week of getting back to the hustle and bustle of London, they announced they'd be stepping away from senior royal duties and splitting their time between the UK and North America.

The move has sent shockwaves through Britain and the world, but Midlands-born Kenny Podmore, who has lived on Vancouver Island for 21 years, doesn't seem so surprised.

"It's warm, it's friendly, the hospitality is second to none," he says.

"It's just such a beautiful way of living, so different to what Harry and Meghan are used to."

Locals here spend their time lounging by the ocean, canoeing, whale-watching, and walking through peaceful forest hiking trails.

Asymina Kantorowicz was on one such hike on New Year's Day with her partner when she looked up and was "shocked" to find the royal couple in front of her.

"(Meghan) offered to take our photos and took a few pictures for us," she says.

A picture of Asymina and her partner that Meghan reportedly took. Credit: ITN

"They just seemed really happy and casual, comfortable, just like a newly-married couple wanting to go out for a New Years' Day hike," she said.

This hiker ran into the royal couple on New Years Day on Vancouver Island Credit: ITN

The Sussex Royal Instagram account posted a photo on New Years Day of a relaxed and smiling Harry holding baby Archie, with a beautiful backdrop of sea and mountains behind the father and son.

Just over a week later, they dropped their bombshell announcement.

They reportedly only gave a few minutes prior warning to Prince Charles, Prince William and the Queen - who responded soon afterwards with a terse press statement.

Meghan is thought to have flown back to Canada to be with Archie, who did not return to London in January, leaving Harry to have "urgent conversations" with the rest of the royals to define their future roles.

Harry and Meghan on their first royal engagement of 2020 at Canada House in London Credit: PA

Back in Vancouver Island, a group of women from the Polecats hiking group on a walk by the sea are more than ready to welcome the royal couple again, should they decide to return.

"They probably were quite relaxed and weren't hounded, and had, just, the responsibility of a family," Polecat Lynda Comber said.

Her fellow walker Denise Webb said: "I think I'd recognise them (should they return), and I'd just say welcome."