In early January, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their decision to step down from their royal duties in order to have a more private life. They came to an agreement with Queen Elizabeth II to completely leave their roles beginning in the spring, no longer receiving public funding or using their His or Her Royal Highness (HRH) titles.
On Jan. 8, 2020, a statement from Harry and Meghan was posted on the Instagram account @sussexroyal which said, “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. . .We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.”
No member of the royal family was consulted before the statement was published. However, a report came through that Harry had attempted to meet with the queen, but her courtiers did not allow it to happen. A quote from Us Weekly explains that Harry’s brother, Prince William, was “blindsided” and “hurt” by the announcement. Many were angry and disappointed because after the couple had been given so much, including a multi-million dollar wedding, they left so disrespectfully. By Jan. 10, Meghan was in Canada and with her son, Archie, while Harry stayed in the United Kingdom to work out issues with the family. Harry’s friend, Tom Bradby, commented that the fall out and harshness towards the couple had “gone a bit too far” and that “certainly the rest of the family find Harry and Meghan very difficult, and from Harry and Meghan’s point of view, they’re just being driven out, as they see it.”
Samantha Markle, Meghan’s half sister, spoke out in disapproval to the couple’s actions, saying their “lack of consideration for the people involved” is “shocking” and that “they stepped into the spotlight knowing what the duties were, knowing what the media would be like for them.”
Royal experts began to predict Harry and Meghan’s split from the royal family after their documentary, “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” came out. In the film, the couple addresses the struggles they face within royal life. Harry said that each time he sees the flash of a camera, he is reminded of his mother Princess Diana’s death. Meghan commented on the difficulty she has experienced managing her mental health due to the media scrutiny. The British press has been called out for racist pieces about Meghan Markle. On Jan. 13, the Queen issued her first statement since the couple’s.
“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family,” the Queen said. “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”
On Jan. 18, the palace published another statement from Queen Elizabeth II which brought up the agreement made between the royal family and the couple. Though Harry and Meghan desired some part-time involvement in the royal family, the agreement has them exiting the royal life entirely.
Overall, they renounce their royal titles, can no longer represent the queen or get public funding, and must reimburse England for the renovations on their UK cottage. Harry will stay a prince and the sixth in line to the throne, though.
The deal will take effect this spring and the royal family will discuss the arrangements again in one year to see if it is working well for all involved parties. This new dynamic will have a large impact on the royal family, since Harry and Meghan’s duties will be reassigned to other members of the family. According to the royal family’s official website, there are more than 2,000 official annual engagements. In addition, unlike Archie, the couple’s next baby will not be a royal child. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are now living on Vancouver Island and still have Frogmore Cottage as their UK home.