Three weeks ago, I thought my life was finally what everyone would call completely normal. My mornings would start with trying to coax our dog, Bear out of bed to go on his morning walk to relieve himself. Instead he’d grumble at me and go back to cuddling up next to my Fiancé, trying to fall back asleep while leaving me laughing at his stubbornness. But once Bear cooperated my mornings would start with daily morning walks, to cleaning our home, making the usual grocery run to Morrison’s, and spending breakfast with my Fiancé while we sipped coffee out of our matching (couple goals alert right here) good morning mugs. As boring as this sounds, after the past few months we’ve had that involved: Hurricane Irma which made us lose most of our belongings, that also made us pack and unpack one too many suitcases, endure endless plane rides, being uprooted with little notice, and then being welcomed by the U.K. for my Fiancé to finish his path to a career in Medicine- for short. Those uneventful mornings that I mentioned were the ones I prided and valued the most, and I was finally happy. But all of that changed the night I was detained and denied re-entry into the U.K. by a Border Force agent who had me labeled, and failed to fact check my story.
I’m sure you all know that I’m not a celebrity, nor am I a person who has rank or substantial power or even wealth in this world. I’m just a middle-class Canadian born citizen who’s engaged to an incredible and hard-working man, trying to plan our wedding, while learning to live off a budget, and to put it plainly a girl who day dreams often about having a permanent home with my soon to be husband, and a backyard for our dog in Canada, preferably close to our family. To say the least I’m far from being a Megan Markle in this world.
How different would my life have been if I was someone like Megan Markle? How easy is it for those with wealth and power to breeze through laws that are set in place, for people to make an exception for them because they are a girlfriend and now fiancé of a Prince. But what about us, the regular people in this world who keep enduring misfortunes? As I type this I’m in my parent’s home, anticipating a skype call from my Fiancé because that’s all that we’re allowed for the next few months after what happened to us.
The night I was detained was after a trip we took to France with our dog, we decided to enjoy a trip together for his semester break. The trip was under whelming, and things didn’t even go our way from the beginning, but we tried to have the best time to make memories together, capturing it all with our Go-Pro. On our return home we ended up going through the Calais/ Coquelles border crossing back into the U.K. they stopped our vehicle and made us wait outside the immigration/ Border force building before a rather mean looking woman by the name of Marie Kennedy showed up to our car scowling at me and taking me into the building without an explanation. I was pleasant, and polite during the entire process because I had nothing to hide, and never had any incidents with the law. I was also nervous because I had no idea why this was happening to me, and why they were asking me questions.
Once again, I’m just an average individual trying to share a normal life with my Fiancé under the circumstances. The Border agent took away my belongings, frisked me, and locked me in a holding cell where other men were. I waited a while before the female Border Force Agent took me into a room to “interview” me. I explained my situation and stated my reason for being in the U.K., I told her about the Hurricane and what we suffered through recently that lead to us being uprooted like this, and was the reason why my Fiancé was continuing his studies in the U.K. I told her that his schooling would be finished by April, and I was leaving then too which was also within my 6-month window of my visitor visa. The only reason I was even in the U.K was to be with my Fiancé while he finished his basic sciences and I was so excited to be able to be with him throughout that process, and to just be a family. I also had a return ticket for home which I provided as proof. I also told her about how my fiancé would be studying for his USMLE 1 exam in Canada and doing his Clinical rotations back in North America, and of our plans to have a life back in our home country of Canada. Yet she decided to label me as an “overstayer”, and disregarded everything I told her to form her own opinion. And when I almost broke down in tears because this has truly been a rough year for us, she glared at me with a look that I can only describe as one with disgust, and was both unnecessary as well as unprofessional of her. I don’t see how she ended up protecting the U.K. borders in that moment, to harass an innocent individual who was only visiting the U.K. due to unfortunate circumstances.
I also told her that I had funds from back home, and from my Fiancé to prove that I did not need to work in the U.K. or need public funds, and yet she wrote on my Notice of Refusal Of Leave To Enter that I’m “unemployed and rely on my Fiancé for my upkeep and accommodation”. Apparently, it’s a crime to not work while you’re essentially on a long-term vacation due to having a visitor visa. I also found the term “upkeep” that she used to be derogatory in the sense that she has no insight into my life, and words such as “upkeep” need to remain in the past because I am not a kept woman who is barefoot in the kitchen. In that moment I also felt as if she was being sexist towards me. She then made me wait a few more hours before fingerprinting me and making me wait for the French Authorities to escort me back into France, who looked stunned that the U.K. had just refused me entry. During the time I was detained both my Fiancé and our dog Bear had to wait in a car for over three hours. The Border Force agent named Marie Kennedy also told my Fiancé to abandon me in France and then he would be allowed to re-enter the U.K. Was that also necessary?
Because of this Border Force Agent’s actions this forced us to pay for extra nights in hotels, forced us to pay for a $500 taxi ride with Bear to the nearest airport that was 2.5 hours away to get me back home to Canada, as my Fiancé had to go back to continuing his studies taking a separate flight to Manchester. I ended up being alone in Paris for two nights with our dog, and had to find ways to get us home with barely any of my personal belongings, and running low on dog food for Bear. This was no easy feat.
The entire process was emotionally and physically stressful, and ended up costing us a lot of money while being on student loans. My Fiancé and I spent our last night in Paris together with me in endless tears, and him upset with knowing he would have to return to our home to see both mine and Bear’s belongings strewn all throughout the house as a horrible and constant reminder that our family was singled out and separated. Yet again we had to go through something so painful within a short period of time. What’s worse is we cannot be together as a family for the final semester of my Fiancé’s studies, after being with him from the very beginning to miss these milestones due to the Border Force agent’s decision is upsetting. I can’t even help my Fiancé pack up our belongings, and my belongings and laptop that I use for my website remains in the U.K.
And to top that off we were waiting for what was left of our personal items to arrive from Sint Marteen in the U.K. and I had to watch my Fiancé on skype show me that the remainder of our belongings survived and made it. But, I also returned home with barely any clothing and had to do my own laundry in the hotels bathroom. I ended up getting sick, and almost fainting in the Montreal Airport from dehydration. Not only that, but it was a horrible ordeal for our dog to go through and he is unhappy that our family has been separated unjustly. I feel both robbed, and bullied.
How lucky would I have been to be Megan Markle? To not worry about being at the mercy of Border Force, to have no one question my intentions, or to treat me unkindly, leaving me traumatized at the thought of future travel. To be able to enjoy time with my Fiancé, and have no one tell him to abandon me. How nice that Prince Harry can “protect’ Megan Markle from photographs while I had to endure a stressful, humiliating, painful and traumatic experience, that left me feeling like a criminal who was fingerprinted, just for wanting to be with my Fiancé in the U.K. for a temporary time. I didn’t bother one individual in the U.K, I bought groceries and spent money that went into their economy, I had my own travel medical insurance just in case something happened to me which also served as proof that I had the funds and intent to leave the U.K. for when I stated I would leave.
This also leads me to wondering how many other families exist out there who are separated unjustly due to the wrongful discretion of a vindictive U.K Border Force Agent. How does this fit your job description? I’ve searched and scoured the internet for stories similar to mine, and I’ve unearthed a few here and there as well as shocking stories that the U.K.’s Border Force is inept at their job, often targeting the wrong individuals, or letting the wrong people into the U.K. or prisoners of foreign countries to remain in the U.K. without deportation. Well congratulations UK Border Force you just targeted another wrong individual who was traveling with good intentions, I’m not sure what you accomplished by cruelly treating me this way.
I’ve also been working tirelessly to attempt to contact the right people because what happened wasn’t right, but it’s falling on deaf ears because I’m virtually a nobody, and maybe people out there think I’ll just let this go. If any of you can sympathize with my pain and heart ache, I’m asking that you please share my story, my goal is to be re-united with my Fiancé and be able to attend to our personal belongings, and have a happy ending come our way. This was something so painful to sit down and type, and it took me a lot of courage to even put this personal story out there, and on my own blog.
Please share my story if you can, that’s all I’m asking for, and I’d be grateful for your kindness.
M & Bear xo