Charla Huber: Let’s welcome Harry and Meghan — by leaving them alone

There’s something that excites me about the possibility of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle living here in the capital region. We know they’ve stayed here, but I don’t know if this is where they are planning to stay.

I came here 18 years ago as a young adult on a camping trip and just decided to stay. There is something about Victoria that can capture a person and let them know that this is home. I wonder if this has happened to this worldly couple.

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Last week, I saw published photos taken of the Duchess of Sussex at Harbour Air. It made me think of how I fly Harbour Air for meetings in Vancouver and how it could be a possibility, if the couple chooses to live here, that any of us could run into them at our local places around town.

It’s tough because I liked seeing the photos and I like reading about the couple here in our city, but I think if we want them to select our home as theirs, we need to offer them respectful privacy.

I read that the Harbour Air photos were taken by the British tabloids, which makes me sad. If people leave a country and fly across the ocean to escape the scrutiny, it’s absolutely awful to learn that it’s following them.

Aside from having international celebrities in our city, there are plenty of things that I really admire about the couple. I am a couple of years older than the prince and I grew up seeing photos and reading about Harry and Prince William.

Harry has always seemed to keep one foot out of the box, while ensuring his devotion to making a difference never waivered. I am a big fan of people who strive to do things a little differently and stretch the parameters in which they work.

It’s pushing the limits of what’s acceptable that makes big changes in our world and creates role models for youth to see that changes only occur when things are done differently.

Even the the two of them as a couple is a demonstration of that at a multitude of levels. We have a British Royal who marries an American, which would have been news on its own, but she is also a woman of mixed-race. There are many interracial relationships and many people are mixed race, including myself, but this is symbolic on many levels.

Now the couple has announced that they are reducing their roles within the Royal Family, which is just another demonstration of pushing the limits and changing the parameters in which they are working. These actions should be celebrated and I hope that this is a teaching moment for everyone, but mostly the young people in our region and beyond.

We are not bound to the situations we are born into. Breaking free and following your heart can be harder in some situations than others, but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I am a firm believer that there is always a way.

I can’t count the number of times throughout my life that I voiced a dream or goal only to have people scoff at me and tell me it wouldn’t be possible.

I am someone who thrives on this, because the “I’ll show you” burns inside me and motivates me to go forward. There are others who need some more reassurance or to see others publicly demonstrate that it’s possible and I think that is what Harry and Meghan are doing. I know they are far more privileged than the people reading this and definitely more privileged than myself writing this, but with that privilege comes commitments.

When I have stepped away from a commitment, it has never become world news.

Greater Victoria is a progressive, inclusive community and I know there are many of us who are hoping Harry, Meghan and Archie decide to stay for a while.

Let’s show them that they are welcome by not taking photos of them if they are out and about. Maybe just offer the same friendly “Hello” that you would offer anyone else on the sidewalk as you pass.

If the royal couple does decide to live here part-time, let’s welcome them by leaving them alone.

charla@makola.bc.ca

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