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  1. ITV Report

Why do Meghan and Harry want to start a new life in Canada?

Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend time in Canada as they begin a "new life" free from palace constraints, it has been confirmed.

But why Canada?

The country has a special place in the hearts' of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It is where they openly revealed their love to the world when they made their first official public appearance together in Toronto in September 2017 at the Invictus Games.

The couple had met through friends in London in July 2016 and just a couple of months after Harry had been in Toronto to launch the countdown to the 2017 Games, the event founded by the prince for wounded and injured servicemen and women and veterans.

Just under a year later, Harry and Meghan attended the Games together, looking happy and relaxed as they sat front row at the wheelchair tennis.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watching Wheelchair Tennis at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada. Credit: PA

LA-born Meghan knows the city well and has several close friends. She spent time living and working in Toronto while filming US legal drama Suits and Harry is believed to have flown to the city to spend time with his new girlfriend as their relationship blossomed.

Back in December 2016, Harry reportedly made a 1,700-mile (2,736km) detour following a tour of the Caribbean, to see the actress at her home in Toronto, said to have been a two-storey townhouse.

The duke and duchess revealed this week that they intend to "step back" as senior royals and plan to balance their time between the UK and North America.

They say they will base themselves at their Frogmore Cottage home on the Windsor Estate when in the UK.

On Monday, Buckingham Palace confirmed the couple would spend time in Canada during a "transition period" as they become independent.

Vancouver Island welcomed the young royals over Christmas. Credit: ITV News

In their engagement interview, Meghan said: "We never went longer than two weeks without seeing each other, even though we were obviously doing a long distance relationship. So it's... we made it work."

The couple will likely have happy memories of their early days in Toronto, enjoying their courtship away from the public glare.

This, combined with Meghan's established links to the city, mean the it is seen as somewhere the couple may well choose as the place to set up home.

But having just stayed in British Columbia during a six-week break, and at one point been spotted hiking on Vancouver Island, the couple may have been using their stay in that area as a dry run for the future.

Harry with Archie over the festive period. Credit: Instagram/sussesroyal

Vancouver Island is somewhere the family could snap up a multimillion-pound luxury home, perhaps an ocean front mansion or a private oasis surrounded by tall trees away from the hustle and bustle.

As the Queen and other senior royals took decisive action and ordered their teams to find a "workable solution" to Harry and Meghan's future roles, the duchess returned to Canada.

The couple had only recently arrived in the UK after their extended festive break in the Commonwealth country but the duchess is now back with Archie who remained behind, reportedly looked after by a nanny and friends of the duchess.

One of Meghan's closest friends is Canadian stylist and TV star Jessica Mulroney, who is married to Ben Mulroney, son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney.