Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's shock plan to live in South Africa for four months a year after the birth of their baby
PRINCE Harry and Meghan are in talks to move to South Africa for four months a year in a bombshell that has stunned royal watchers.
The country is top of a shortlist of African nations where they are expected to create a home from as early as next year, The Sun can reveal.
Another Commonwealth state, Botswana, is a close second.
The recommendations have been made in a top-secret briefing document about how the couple will establish their future after the imminent birth of their first child.
But sources close to the Duchess of Sussex last night rubbished speculation that Meghan wanted to move back to the US and one day become the American president, insisting she had no political ambitions.
We have learned senior members of the Royal Family, including the Queen and Prince Charles, have come on board with the African plan.
But there are concerns within the royal household about the costs of the move. There would be a huge security bill for eight full-time police staff to relocate permanently with Meghan and Harry, who has visited South Africa on numerous occasions.
Officials there and in Botswana have not yet been consulted because the discussions are at an early stage.
A royal source said: “Harry and Meghan are very much engaged in these plans, although the move isn’t planned until next year or 2021.
"The idea is they will spend between three and four months every year based in an African country, where they would work and then use it as a base for travel.
“South Africa and Botswana are two countries on the shortlist that are considered the most likely.”
Sources close to Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37, insisted the exact scope of the role they would play in Africa had not yet been determined.
The insider explained: “A briefing paper has been prepared and shared with a very small circle.
“They’re starting to look at how the next couple of years of their lives are going to be spent and looking at some long-term strategic planning. It’s all a part of a process.
“They have a vision of being ambassadors for the UK, representatives of the Commonwealth and pursuing the works and good causes they want to focus on.
“They like the idea of being able to put roots down in a country, have a home base and really get involved and engaged in the community and country. Africa is an obvious starting point for Harry because of his affinity for the continent.
“But how it is all worked out from the official side is still to be developed because these are such early-stage conversations and we are not there yet.”
Concerns within the royal household have already been expressed about who will foot the bill, with at least the security costs expected to be picked up by the government.
The source said: “Taxpayers will likely have to fund this role to the tune of many millions of pounds a year.
“They will require a massive security detail, with at least eight officers based with them permanently. It would be much more expensive than their security bill in the UK.
“But the argument will be that the costs are worth it because this will be a good thing for Brand Britain, which we need at the moment.”
Prince William is believed to be supportive of the plans now that he and Kate have split their household from the Sussexes, who are based at Buckingham Palace.
Another royal insider revealed: “At the end of the day, there was a disagreement between the brothers over their future direction and tensions between their wives.
“But they’re in a better place than they have been over the past few months because they can just be brothers and not colleagues. They can make their own decisions now.”
The Sunday Times first reported plans for the royal couple to move abroad in an exposé by political editor Tim Shipman centred on tensions between William and Harry, which The Sun has previously revealed.
He wrote: “Some members of the royal family, no fans of Meghan, have even speculated she might one day run for president of the United States.”
Shipman added that Harry and Meghan’s move to Frogmore Cottage within Windsor Castle “has been as much as an exile as an escape”.
An ally of the couple told the paper: “Meghan and Harry feel they have been cut adrift. More and more friends are worried that they’ll just get on a plane and live in LA and never come back.”
The paper also reported that a friend of the brothers said it “would suit William to get his brother out of the country for a few years and Meghan as far away as possible”.
But sources close to Harry and Meghan hit back last night, insisting the couple were happier than ever setting up their new home.
A Sussex source told us: “The American move and idea of her wanting to become president is ridiculous — she has no political ambitions.
“They are both so busy and excited nesting at Frogmore Cottage right now and about to have a baby. They are so happy there.
“They love having the privacy to walk their dogs around the grounds and get fresh air as they await the start of their family. They’re thrilled and very happy.”
The Sunday Times also reported that sending the Sussexes to Canada was “mooted, then booted” and making Harry governor-general of Australia was also “discussed then dismissed”.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “Any future plans for the duke and duchess are speculative at this stage. No decisions have been taken about future roles.
“The duke will continue to fulfil his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.”
Harry and Meghan have deep ties to Africa, and, in particular, to Botswana, a landlocked country in the south of the continent which has played a crucial role in their romance.
Harry, who first visited the nation on safari aged 13 to escape the grief of mother Diana’s death in 1997, whisked Meghan there for a camping trip on just their third date in 2016.
They returned the following year as part of a three-week sojourn and Harry, who is patron of the Rhino Conservation Botswana charity, sourced a diamond there for her engagement ring.
Harry has close ties to other African countries including Lesotho, which he called a “second home” after spending his gap year there.
He also spent two days in the North African country of Morocco with Meghan, whose mother Doria is African-American.
Taxpayer faces £1m security bill a year
By Mike Sullivan, Crime Editor
THE security bill for Harry and Meghan’s move abroad would top £1million a year, experts said last night.
The couple would each get a dedicated team of Metropolitan Police SO14 Royal protection officers to accompany them if they were in Africa for up to four months a year.
Their baby would also be entitled to its own security detail — the cost of which would also be borne by the taxpayer from Met budgets.
Officials refuse to discuss the specific number of close protection officers and back-up police bodyguards involved.
However, one security consultant told The Sun the cost of protecting Harry, Meghan and their baby while abroad, would probably be in the region of £750,000.
In addition, travelling, medical and insurance costs for protection officers working in rota patterns would add at least another £250,000 to the bill — along with a “carbon footprint the size of Coventry.”
Former Scotland Yard commander John O’Connor called on the Royal Family to make a contribution to the police security bill.
He said: “It will cost the Metropolitan Police an awful lot of money at a time when they are strapped for cash.
“It is also likely to cost the local police force in Africa a considerable sum of money.
“Southern Africa is not safe by any means and Islamic State have strongholds across the continent.
“It’s only right that the Royal family themselves contribute towards the security costs of protecting Harry and Meghan while they are there.”
The Met Police responded with a reminder that they “do not discuss Royal security."
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