July 19, 2024

The document filed on Wednesday at Britain’s corporate registrar, Companies House, was just a few lines long. But its purpose was to formally update the country of residency for one “Prince Henry Charles Albert David Duke of Sussex” — otherwise known as Prince Harry.

For years, Harry and his American wife, Meghan, have considered California home. The document updated the residency of the British royal to the United States for official paperwork for his business Travalyst Limited, a nonprofit sustainable travel initiative.

The paperwork was just a bureaucratic formality. But it underscores just how far Harry, 39, has come from his days as a central member of the royal family in the country of his birth, to a very different life with his wife and children in California. It also comes at a time of turmoil for the House of Windsor.

Harry and Meghan moved to Montecito, Calif., after stepping back from royal duties in 2020, amid a rift with the royal family.

Prince Harry said in February that he had considered becoming a U.S. citizen, telling ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “It’s a thought that has crossed my mind but it’s not a high priority for me right now.”

But there had been little in the way of official confirmation of Harry’s residency status until this week. The filing indicates the change of residency dates to June 29, 2023, the day that Buckingham Palace confirmed the couple had vacated Frogmore Cottage, their British home. Queen Elizabeth II had offered the home to the couple when they were married in 2018.

It is unclear what type of U.S. visa or residency permit Harry holds, despite efforts by conservative activists in the United States to ascertain them, including a current lawsuit. He could be eligible for a green card through his marriage to Meghan, a U.S. citizen. Immigration lawyers have pointed out that he could also be entitled to an A-1 diplomatic visa, available to members of a reigning royal family.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative research institute, launched a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security in June 2023 to see documents related to Harry’s visa, saying the group had a right to see them as part of research into whether his application for residency should have been rejected because of past drug use.

Harry, the fifth in line of succession to the British throne, wrote in “Spare,” his 2023 memoir, that he had used cocaine and other drugs in the past. Last month, former President Donald J. Trump told the right-wing British broadcaster GB News that he would take “appropriate action” if Harry were found to have lied on a visa application.

The Heritage Foundation had sought the documents specifically to investigate how the prince had been admitted, since some visas require applicants to answer questions about past drug use and legal violations.

The Department of Homeland Security declined to make those documents public when they were requested last year, stating that there was no “public interest in disclosure sufficient to override the subject’s privacy interests.”

But last month, a federal judge ordered the department to submit documents related to Harry’s visa for the court to review, in order to determine whether they should be released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Back in Britain, the royal family has been going through a tumultuous time, with King Charles III and Catherine, Princess of Wales, both revealing cancer diagnoses earlier this year, and few other members of the royal family available to carry out public duties.

On Thursday, Prince William — Catherine’s husband and Harry’s elder brother — attended his first royal engagement since his wife announced last month that she was being treated for cancer.

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