While we’re not sure she really needs it, it’s now possible that Meghan Markle’s British citizenship is at risk following #Megxit. Turns out, the 38-year-old was still in the process of receiving her British passport before all of this royal drama reached its height. Which means, even if you marry into the family and become a literal Duchess, it still doesn’t exempt you from all that official immigration paperwork. To her credit, however, Meghan was fully compliant with the UK’s bureaucratic regulations—until now.
When Meghan recently took off to Canada following her and husband Prince Harry’s announcement that they’d “step back” from their roles as “senior members” of the royal family, the move triggered far more than a royal spat. (Although tensions between royal family members aren’t looking too great, either!) It seems that Meghan’s relocation to Canada caused a potential threat to her bid for citizenship. And it all comes down to some finicky fine print:
In order to become a British citizen, applicants must live for a minimum of five years in the UK, with most of that time spent on British soil. This translates to roughly no more than 270 days in the past three years, or 90 days in the previous month, outside of the country. But how does this work for Meghan?
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“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
British immigration lawyers note that this applies even in the Duchess’ case, despite the fact that her role requires her to travel and pressures from the media have now pushed her and Prince Harry to seek relocation to Canada.
“She may quickly run into trouble when calculating her permissible absences from the UK,” said an article on FreeMovement, a site set up by immigration lawyer Colin Yeo. Another immigration lawyer, Philip Trott, weighed in to say that there’s no need to worry too much yet. “She is going to be at the top end of that,” he said. “There is no harm in being out, as long as you spend most of your time here.”
“The advice we normally give to clients is that most of your time means six months and one day every year,” he added. Will Meghan be willing to spend a little over half of the year back in Blighty, though? It’s possible. “There is no change in the fact that she is pursuing the path to British citizenship,” the Duchess’ spokeswoman confirmed today.