Harry and Meghan discussed move to New Zealand more than a year before royal exit

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend a dedication of an area of bush to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy, in Redvale on the North Shore, on day three of the royal couple's tour of New Zealand. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan in New Zealand in 2018. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle discussed moving to New Zealand during their 2018 royal tour of the nation, the country's governor-general has revealed.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Australia and New Zealand six months after their May 2018 wedding at Windsor Castle, as part of their work as senior royals.

Now Patsy Reddy, who represents the Queen in New Zealand, has revealed they were already mulling leaving the UK at that time, more than a year before they eventually moved to North America,

She told the Associated Press: "I remember they’d just been down to the Abel Tasman National Park when we sat down and had a drink, and they said that they could imagine living in a place like this and wondered whether we thought it would be theoretically possible. Even possible for them to have a place in New Zealand.

"Of course, we said. Sure. It would be fine. There are lots of opportunities to live in New Zealand, but that would be something that they’d have to explore.

"They were looking at how they might raise their family. And, obviously, they’ve made some decisions since."

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 21: Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy looks on after the State Memorial Service for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul on April 21, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh died at age 99 on Friday 9 April at Windsor Castle, with a funeral service held on Saturday 17 April at St George's Chapel in Windsor. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Governor-general Dame Patsy Reddy following a state memorial service for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul in April. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (2R) and her husband Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (R) greet New Zealand's Governor-General designate, Dame Patricia
The Queen and Philip meet Dame Patsy Reddy during a private audience at Buckingham Palace in July 2016. (Dominic Lipinski/AFP via Getty Images)

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Reddy, who is leaving her role as governor-general after her five-year term this year, said the discussion was informal and she did not view it as a request for help.

But it could suggest the Sussexes were already mulling options for their future.

The couple were also linked with a move to a part of Africa, with reports suggesting the Queen wanted them to be based in South Africa.

Reddy said they were a "lovely couple" and that during their visit they had been impressed with the outdoors and their interactions with New Zealanders.

At the time, Meghan had announced she was pregnant with their first son Archie, and they were carrying out engagements across New Zealand and Australia, including a stop at the Invictus Games, which Harry founded in 2014.

The couple announced in January 2020 that they wanted to step back from the roles as senior royals, and decided they would split their time between North America and the UK.

It was assumed they would be based in Canada, which is another Commonwealth nation, but they moved to California before the border between the two countries closed in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex walk through a Redwoods forest in Rotorua, New Zealand, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool via REUTERS     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Harry and Meghan were apparently taken with the outdoors in New Zealand. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool via Reuters)

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They have since set up a nonprofit organisation called Archewell, which takes its name from the same Greek word – Arche – that inspired their son's name.

Harry and Meghan welcomed daughter Lilibet, named after the Queen, in June.

Commonwealth nations each have a governor-general who is the Queen's official representative in those countries.

Reddy's role involves formally signing bills into law and other ceremonial aspects of a head of state.

She will be succeeded by Cindy Kiro, the country's first Indigenous person to perform the job.

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