Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stayed briefly in Canada's Vancouver Island before making a permanent shift to Los Angeles after exiting the royal family and moving away from the UK. Their short stopover has reportedly cost more than $50,000 to taxpayers.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex along with their year-old son Archie moved to Los Angeles in March amid the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to this, the family-of-three was residing in Canada as they made their exit from the royal family. The couple nearly spent four months in the North American country after arriving in Vancouver towards the end of 2019. This was even before they officially announced that they are stepping back from royal duties as senior royals.

After making their final visit to the UK as royals in early March, the couple flew to California. However, for their short visit to Canada, they are now indebted to Canadian taxpayers.

According to the documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the couple's security cost during their stay has hit more than $50,000. The email records provide details of their security bill suggesting that RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) spent at least $56,384 from Nov. 18, 2019, to Jan. 19, 2020. It is said that RCMP was concerned about the issue "costing us huge."

"More than $50,000 is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider the fact that this is taxpayers' money covering bills for one of the most famous and wealthy couples in the world," said Aaron Wudrick, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. "Had the government not cut them off and had Meghan and Harry stayed in Canada, the bill could have easily turned into millions," he added.

As per the report, the current bill is expected to be far higher as it is not inclusive of the Mounties salaries. For now, it only includes costs such as "overtime, travel, meals, incidentals, and accommodations."

RCMP's security duties towards the Sussexes ended on March 14. It is believed that the couple left for Los Angeles in late March just in time to avoid border closure. Meanwhile, RCMP has refrained from releasing the total summary and tally of costs. "For security reasons and to protect our operations, we are not releasing salary costs," RCMP said in a statement. "Security costs for protection are covered through the existing operational budget."

Previously, more than 80,000 Canadians had signed a petition telling their Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to spare them from being held responsible for the royals' security bills.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
The couple are said to have relocated to California by private jet earlier this month. Photo: AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

While there was news that Harry and Meghan have started to pay back the money they spent on refurbishing their royal abode Frogmore Cottage and admitted they had no plans to ask the US government for security resources, it remains to see how they plan to pay the Canadian government.