Few other countries can offer such a palate of appeal as Canada, writes Hugh Morris

Who could blame them? Canada is glorious. While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's decision to consciously uncouple themselves from the Royal family, and split their time between the UK and North America, has provoked a broad range of responses, I would wager one emotion underlying many is that of envy.


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The jealousy is two-fold. First, it makes everyone else's January resolutions look paltry. Secondly, Canada, where it is mooted the pair will live, given the Duchess' former residency in Toronto and their love of the North American nation, should be at the top of everyone's relocation wishlist.

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Few other countries can offer such a palate of appeal: from the cosmopolitan charms of Montreal (basically Paris) and Toronto (like a clean-cut New York) to its otherworldly wilderness, boasting some of the planet's most beguiling scenery, and reputation for kindness and cheer.

Canada also scores highly on Quality of Life indices. It ranks sixth on the Global Peace Index (the UK is 45th), ninth in the World Happiness Index, and, if this sort of thing floats your boat, has more trees per capita than anywhere in the world; a startling 8953 per person, trumping its nearest rival, Russia, which has just 4461.

Vancouver, on Canada's west coast - some 5630 miles from its Atlantic Coast on the east - is consistently ranked among the cities with the finest quality of life. Mercer has put the capital of British Columbia in the top five for the past nine years; in 2019 it was joint third (with Auckland and Munich) behind Zurich and Vienna.

In June last year, I spent my honeymoon travelling from Calgary, through the Canadian Rockies, down to Vancouver. It was my second visit to Canada - the other being 10 years ago on the east coast - and it confirmed in me a belief that if I were ever to up sticks and move abroad, Canada would be my destination.

My wife and I savoured two weeks in a campervan, drifting through pristine countryside, amid natural spectacles that beggar belief, making a number of pit stops along the way in smaller communities. In each, the people we met were friendly and welcoming, food and drink offerings were impressive if not plentiful, and a sense of calm hung in the air.

At Revelstoke, a few hundred miles east of Vancouver, I felt I could move there. Lord knows how I would make a living, but it's not something the Sussexes should need to worry about.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, are saying hello to a life in North America. Photo / AP
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, are saying hello to a life in North America. Photo / AP

The couple do not seem to want to retreat from the public eye to the extent of living in a plush cabin in the woods, so might be better off eyeing up Vancouver. On the edge of everything; the Pacific, from where it acquires its seafood, and a culinary eclecticism that drifts across the ocean from Asia, and the Rockies, an outdoor gym/gallery almost unrivalled anywhere on the planet. Hiking, cycling, skiing, climbing, being a lapsed royal, you name it. The city's Stanley Park is the Rockies in miniature and features in the commute of many residents.

While this is what I would do, the Sussexes are much more likely to plant themselves tentatively on the east coast, closer to the UK for those awkward Christmas returns. There they would still find mountains for skiing and hiking in and around Quebec.

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Ottawa, the capital, is a kind of theme-park London, historic and quaint without the hustle and bustle, while the Duchess knows the charms of Toronto, Canada's most cosmopolitan city, well. Montreal, where 65 per cent of locals speak French, is almost intimidating in its culture, boasting scores of various festivals and celebrations every year. This is not to say the east coast is built up (Montreal to Toronto is still a five-hour drive), and there remains a wealth of Canadian wilderness to disappear in.

On my first trip to Canada, as a green-horned student, I spent a week traversing Algonquin Provincial Park by canoe. There were four of us, and we'd kayak by day, camp up, build a fire, eat and watch the sun drift below our horizon. It was bliss.

The point is we can't all have the luxuries afforded by being a member of the Royal family when we strike out alone, but should we decide to pack in the daily grind, we may still have a choice, and I think we all know Canada is the answer.

-Telegraph Media Group