PREST: An insider's guide for royals considering a move to British Columbia

It looks as though Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and their young son are thinking about moving to Canada’s West Coast.

Hey, that’s where we live!

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This move has caused some anxiety for people in England and beyond who are worried about the well-being of Harry and his family away from the palaces of Europe. How can they leave London for some faraway land full of empty wilderness, ice houses and roving bears?! And Harry and Meghan themselves must be feeling some trepidation moving to a new land full of unfamiliar sights, sounds and – for some reason – fireworks on Halloween.

As a North Vancouver-based father with two young boys, I would like to take this opportunity to give a little virtual tour of our region, hopefully assuaging any fears anyone might have about what life might be like for a young family, royal or not, on Canada’s West Coast. Here’s what to expect when you settle in the Vancouver area.

Wildlife

No, you sillies, bears aren’t just strolling down the street here willy-nilly. Why, I haven’t seen a bear in, well … at least two months. And there was a warning at my kids’ school not so long ago. And there was that time a few years back when I was walking to work a block away from my suburb’s densely packed urban core and a bear went strolling by, willy-nilly.

OK, so there are black bears around here. And cougars. And eagles and salmon. The wildlife, in fact, is part of the magic and mystique of this land. But not in a scary way. We don’t send our kids to school every day thinking this might be the day little Lord Prestington gets eaten by a cougar.

And you know where all the truly dangerous Commonwealth animals hang out? Australia. I’ll take cougars and bears any day over poisonous snakes and spiders and Rupert Murdochs.

Paparazzi

Speaking of “wildlife,” here’s another vicious pack of animals that we just don’t see much around these parts. A move to B.C. could be refreshing for someone who has been in the media spotlight literally since the day he was born. It appears as though some paparazzi have followed the royals here as they make their move, but that shouldn’t last long. Our locals won’t have much tolerance for that type of behaviour, and there are hazards to hiding out in the bush around here. Remember the bears!?

Housing

Here’s where it gets dicey. I understand the British royal family has a lot of money, but do they have British Properties money? Maybe if they sold one of the Virgin Islands they could put together a decent down payment on a bungalow. If Charles and Camilla come to visit, they can sleep on the royal futon.

Natural disasters

We don’t get hurricanes or tornadoes or massive floods around here, although there is always the slight chance that a major earthquake will hit and the land beneath us will break off from the rest of the continent and hurtle us to the bottom of the ocean. But honestly, is that really much different than Brexit?

Weather

Yes, many Canadians spend six months or more each year digging through snow and ice. But not us! If you do move here, however, be wary of bragging about our non-frigid weather – the rest of Canada gets a bit frosty if we bring it up. We basically have three seasons now: six months of rain, five months of glorious summer, and one month of smoke. That’s from all the weed. Just kidding! It’s forest fires. But trust me: whatever happens the rest of the year, the glorious summer makes up for it. And if it does snow, we all take a vacation!

Sports

It is theoretically possible to do the fabled Vancouver hat trick of skiing, sailing and golfing all in the same day. It’s an Upper Class dream! And more good news – we love playing soccer, which you know as “football,” as much as you do. Or your kids can hit the ice and play hockey, which you call “ice hockey.” Who knows, maybe your son will grow up to win the Stanley Cup, the prestigious trophy (with strong British roots!) that can be won by any NHL team except for the Vancouver Canucks.

So that’s our little corner of paradise. I have no doubt that Harry, Meghan and company will feel right at home in no time. The word “British” is literally in the name of our province!

And if you do need any help settling in, royals, please feel free to give me a call. I know the secret beaches and quiet trails, and I promise not to sell your pictures to the tabloids. If I do, you can feed me to the bears. Or, much worse, the paparazzi!

Andy Prest is sports editor for the North Shore News. His humour/lifestyle column runs biweekly. aprest@nsnews.com

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