Despite a cheeky Tweet hinting that members of the royal family could be moving into Hatley Castle, Royal Roads University says no one is taking up residence.
The joke surfaced shortly after reports from the United Kingdom stated that the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, is heading back to Victoria just weeks after celebrating the Christmas season in North Saanich with her husband, Prince Harry, and their son Archie.
— Royal Roads (@RoyalRoads) January 10, 2020
Shortly after their stay, the royals announced they will be “stepping back” from royal duties to “become financially independent” and split their time between the United Kingdom and North America.
“We have no idea if the royal highnesses are coming here for any reason,” said Cindy MacDougall, communications officer with Royal Roads. “Though of course they are more than welcome to visit; we have a castle after all.”
Hatley Castle holds a long history in the area, with possible royal ties.
It was built in 1908 by James Dunsmuir, who acted as the B.C. Premier and the Lieutenant Governor. Dunsmuir and his family lived in the castle until the 1930s, when it was sold to the Canadian Government for a small cost – especially since some officials had hinted at using the space as a possible evacuation site for the British royal family during the Second World War.
“We don’t have proof that the castle was bought in order to house the King, but there has been a lot of talk about it over the years,” MacDougall said. “There are also hints of that purpose in [former Prime Minister] William Lyon McKenzie King’s journal.”
The castle was then used as a naval college, and then a military college before it was transformed into a public university, though the land is still owned by the Canadian Armed Forces.
MacDougall said that while Royal Roads University isn’t expecting a royal visit anytime soon, if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decide to visit they would certainly have beautiful architecture and gardens to see.
The gardens are accessible and free to the public all year long, and the castle will be open to the public to tour starting in the spring.