‘An easy choice’: B.C. charter turns down paparazzi seeking photos of Harry and Meghan’s pad

Capt. Miles Arsenault says a group of foreign journalists misrepresented themselves as film makers in a bid to get footage of Harry and Meghan's Vancouver Island residence. Global News

A Vancouver Island charter operator says he turned down a recent booking when he realized the clients were paparazzi looking for photos of Harry and Meghan’s seaside residence.

Capt. Miles Arsenault with Deep Cove’s Bay to Bay Charters told Global News the client had initially told him on the phone they were in town to make a movie.

READ MORE: British tabloids were ruthless to Meghan Markle — will Canadian media learn from their mistakes?

But when the clients arrived, he realized they were actually journalists from New York and Japan who wanted to get close to Mille Fleurs, the 12,000 square-foot home in North Saanich the couple have been using as their Vancouver Island getaway.

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Arsenualt said when he realized what he was being asked to do, he turned the contract down — even though his water taxi business, which has only been in operation for six months, could use the money.

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“It’s hard to turn down money when you are starting a new business, but this one was an easy choice to turn down,” he said.

READ MORE: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle are moving to Canada: Here’s what we know

“But maybe good will come from it and Harry and Meghan will call and say, ‘Hey! Lets go for a boat ride.'”

Arsenault went on to say he wanted to leave the couple with the privacy they’re looking for in Canada.

“Canadians and all of the islanders respect the privacy of others and would not feel good about taking them [paparazzi] out to take pictures of the royals,” he said.

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On Tuesday, the Canadian Forces also splashed cold water on the theory that Coastal Defence Vessel HMCS Brandon, which is currently moored just off shore of Mille Fleurs, was there on royal protection duty.

HMCS Brandon is conducting sea trials at a naval sound range and has nothing to do with the royals,” said a spokesperson in an email.

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International media attention has been intensely focused on Vancouver Island since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced plans last week to step away from their high-level royal duties and spend more time in North America.

READ MORE: Could British Columbia become Meghan and Harry’s part time home?

Duchess Meghan returned to Vancouver Island last Thursday, where she had reportedly left baby Archie while the couple returned to the U.K. to deal with the fallout of their decision.

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On Tuesday, she visited Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

On Monday, Queen Elizabeth II confirmed that the couple will be splitting their time between the U.K. and Canada.

Speaking with Global News on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at this point, there have been no conversations around the couple’s move to Canada, including the question of security costs.

“I think most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here, but how that looks and what kind of costs are involved, there are still lots of discussions to have,” Trudeau said.

The duo have yet to formally say where they plan to live, however their recent vacation on Vancouver Island has sparked intense speculation they plan to make the west coast their home.

— With files form Brad MacLeod and Richard Zussman

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