The world is still reeling from the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are to break away from England’s royal family and work toward becoming financially independent. It’s the biggest shake-up to the royals since Edward VIII gave up the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson in the 1930s.
But what does this huge decision mean, exactly? For Harry, Meghan and little Archie, their charities and patronages, and the rest of the royals, it could mean some major changes going forward.
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“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. 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. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. 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. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
In true millennial style, the couple made their announcement on Instagram, posting a lengthy statement on Jan. 8.
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the statement 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. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.”
The bombshell statement went on to say that they plan to balance their time between North America and the United Kingdom and to raise their son, Archie, “with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born.” Harry and Meghan also said they would continue to honor their duty to “the queen, the commonwealth and our patronages.”
The move might seem shocking but other royals have done similar things, most notably Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle, who gave up the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. He was king for 326 days before making a public radio broadcast on Dec. 11, 1936, in which he declared his intention to abdicate to “marry the woman he loved.”
After he gave up the throne, Edward and Wallis were removed from the Civil List and received a yearly allowance from the King, reported to be worth about $27,500, which is approximately $1.8 million in today’s money. The couple moved to Paris and came back to the UK now and then, but had a strained relationship with Elizabeth and her mother.
Could Harry Ever Be King?
Although it has been confirmed that Harry will maintain his current position of sixth in line to the throne, he is extremely unlikely to ever actually rule. Removing someone from the line of succession requires action from the U.K. government because the positioning is based on legislation.
Currently, Prince Charles is first in line to the throne (his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, would become queen if he takes the throne). Next in line is Harry’s older brother, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. William’s three children with wife Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, are third, fourth and fifth in the line of succession, respectively.
If William and Kate have another child, they would take Harry’s place, moving him further down the line.
The Queen’s Reaction
On Jan. 13, Elizabeth released a statement saying her family had held “very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.” She also made it clear that the whole family was “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,” the statement continued. “Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.”
More Revelations From The Queen
On Jan. 18, Elizabeth shared more information, revealing that conversations with the couple had been going on for months.
“I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” read her statement, which was shared on the official @SussexRoyal Instagram page. “I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”
She added that Harry, Meghan and baby Archie will always be “much loved members” of her family.
‘HRH’ No More
In a separate statement, Buckingham Palace said the couple will no longer use their titles of His/Her Royal Highness, “as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family.” The abbreviation HRH is used as part of the title of some members of the royal family. Meghan received the title Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex upon marriage to Harry in May 2018, while Harry’s full title was His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.
Moving forward, Buckingham Palace said the couple would be addressed as “Harry, Duke of Sussex” and “Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.” However, some commentators remarked that this implied the couple were divorced — because the same formatting was used by Sarah Ferguson and Princess Diana, who became “Sarah, Duchess of York” and “Diana, Princess of Wales” after their respective divorces from Princes Andrew and Charles — so these titles may be revised.
Harry Expressed ‘Great Sadness’
At a charity event in London on Jan. 19, Harry made his first public statement since Buckingham Palace announced he and Meghan would give up their royal titles and no longer represent Elizabeth as working members of the royal family. “The U.K. is my home and a place that I love,” Harry said. “That will never change. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.”
In his speech, which was shared on Instagram, Harry added that the couple’s hope “was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth and my military associations, but without public funding.” However, he said “unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.”
No Comment From William
Meanwhile, it’s been business as usual for William and Kate, who haven’t commented publicly on the news that has taken the world by storm. As always, speculation is rife that there is a rift between the royal brothers. Harry addressed those rumors in an ITV documentary, “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which aired in the U.K. in October 2019.
“Part of this role and part of this job, this family, being under the pressure that it’s under — inevitably, stuff happens,” he said. “But look, we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment, but I’ll always be there for him, and, as I know, he’ll always be there for me.”
In the ITV documentary, both Harry and Meghan dropped hints that royal life was not as enjoyable as people might think. Meghan told the interviewer, Tom Bradby, that things had become particularly difficult since she gave birth to Archie in May 2019.
When Bradby asked Meghan how the increased media attention had affected her physical and mental health, the new mom replied, “Look, any woman, especially when they’re pregnant — you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging. Also, thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
Bradby then asked, “And the answer is, would it be fair to say, not really OK? As in it’s really been a struggle?”
“Yes,” Meghan said.
The Brothers Stand Firm Against ‘Harmful’ Rumors
In response to “offensive” claims of bullying within the royal family, Harry and William released a joint statement on Jan. 13. Referring to an article in Britain’s The Times, quoting a source saying Harry and Meghan felt they had been pushed out and “constantly bullied” by William, their statement read, “For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”
Robert Hardman, royal biographer and Daily Mail journalist, said the action “shows the depth of the bond between those two brothers” and that it demonstrated their desire to “avoid any sense of confrontation.”
During the ITV documentary, Harry told Bradby that every time he sees a camera flash, he’s reminded of the tragic death of his mother, Diana, describing his grief as “a wound that festers.” Diana died in Paris in August 1997 after a car she was in crashed while being followed by members of the paparazzi.
“I think being part of this family, in this role, in this job, every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back,” Harry said. “So, in that respect, it’s the worst reminder of her life, as opposed to the best. But as I said, with the role, with the job, and the sort of pressures that come with that, I get reminded of the bad stuff, unfortunately.”
Harry Had Long Wanted A Split
Press reports suggest that Harry wanted to ditch his royal title a long time ago, before Meghan was ever on the scene. Apparently, it was his close relationship with Elizabeth that initially changed his mind. In the documentary, “Meghan Markle: American Princess,” royal biographer Penny Juror said, “Harry was a reluctant royal. I think there was a real danger at one time that Harry might turn his back on his royal life and royal responsibilities and go and live somewhere quietly.”
Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” revealed that at the time, Harry “decided not to abandon his duties for the sake of the queen.”
Warnings From Meghan’s Friends
Meghan explained to ITV how her views on the British press had changed since she became part of the royal family. “It’s hard. I don’t think anyone can understand that, but in all fairness, I had no idea, which sounds difficult to understand here,” she said. She said that when she first met Harry her friends “were really happy because I was so happy,” but her British friends tried to warn her that the British tabloids would destroy her life. Meghan didn’t believe them at first.
“What are you talking about?” she told ITV. “That doesn’t make any sense. I’m not in tabloids. I didn’t get it.”
Racist Press Coverage
The British press has been accused of writing articles about Meghan, whose mother is black, that include racist language. This is something that’s even been addressed by Harry himself. When the couple first started dating, he released an emotional statement, via his communications secretary, to call out the “racial undertones of comment pieces.”
“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment,” a representative for Harry said at the time. “Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from the public — the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker and loved one in her life.”
Other Breaks From Tradition
It was clear from the beginning of Harry and Meghan’s marriage that they would break with certain royal traditions in order to have a more normal life. When their son, Archie, was born in May 2019, the couple made the decision not to give him a courtesy title. And, unlike with other royal babies, like William’s children, Harry and Meghan kept the details surrounding Archie’s birth private.
For example, they opted out of the traditional post-birth photocall on the hospital steps, instead holding a private photocall at Windsor Castle a few days later. Details of Archie’s godparents were also kept private until recently, when it was revealed that the honor went to Harry’s childhood nanny, Tiggy Pettifer, Mark Dyer, a former officer of honor to Charles and Harry’s longtime friend, Charlie van Straubenzee.
Paying For Frogmore Cottage
Under the agreement between Harry, Meghan and Elizabeth, the couple will pay back £2.4 million (about $3 million) of British taxpayers’ money used to renovate their home, Frogmore Cottage, on the Windsor estate. They will also have to start paying rent on it.
Works carried out at Frogmore included the removal of a chimney, re-finishing the roof, new staircases, fireplace installations and a new “floating” wooden floor. However, expenses related to fixtures, furnishings and fittings were funded privately by the couple.
Harry’s Military Appointments
Harry served in the British Army from 2011-2015 and had a number of other military appointments. However, the Buckingham Palace statement about his new role revealed that he will step back from these appointments in line with what he has agreed with Elizabeth. This means Harry will now only be able to wear the uniforms he served in but not those of his other military associations.
Holding Onto Patronages
Despite cutting some ties with the royal family, Harry and Meghan are holding onto all of their private causes and patronages, although it’s still not clear how they will tie that all together with bringing in an independent income.
Announced in January 2019, Meghan’s four royal patronages are the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Mayhew, London’s National Theatre and Smart Works. Meanwhile, Harry has a substantial amount of patronages. He will retain his appointments at organizations including the Invictus Games Foundation, Sentebale, Silverstone Heritage Experience, the Rugby Football Union and Dolen Cymru, among others. He will also remain president of African Parks and president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
Help From Prince Charles
To maintain their current lifestyles, Harry and Meghan will have to earn a significant amount of money. While they won’t get public funds, Charles will continue to finance them through his private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, which has funded the royal family’s public and private lives for nearly 700 years.
Emily Andrews, the royal correspondent for The Sun, said that last year Harry and William shared around £5 million ($6.5 million) of Duchy money with an estimated £2.3 million ($3 million) going to Harry and Meghan. It remains to be seen how this arrangement will continue in the future.
They’re Still Rich, Regardless
Even if Harry and Meghan do eventually stop taking money from the Duchy, they’re unlikely to be seen on a breadline. Meghan was wealthy in her own right before she married Harry, with an estimated personal fortune of around $5 million, largely due to her role in the hit TV show “Suits.”
Harry is allegedly worth around £30 million (about $39 million), including around $10 million that was inherited from his late mother, Diana, who left three-quarters of her estate to her two sons and the other portion to be divided between her 17 godchildren.
They Can Now Earn Salaries
As senior royals, Harry and Meghan weren’t allowed to take a salary (Harry’s military earnings were donated to charity). But that’s no longer the case, meaning they have the freedom to sign endorsement deals.
Sarah Ferguson famously did this after her split from Andrew, becoming the face of Weight Watchers and collaborating with QVC. While no announcements have been made in relation to commercial deals, we do know that Harry is co-producing a mental health documentary series with Oprah Winfrey for Apple TV+. It’s also been rumored that Meghan could do voice acting work for Disney in the near future.
Who’s Covering Their Travel Expenses?
According to their website, Harry and Meghan plan to pay for most of their own travel costs in the future.
“All travel arrangements undertaken by the duke and duchess in their private time have always been and will continue to be paid for privately and not by U.K. taxpayers,” read a post at SussexRoyal.com. “With their transition to becoming members of the royal family with financial independence this will continue to be the case. Wherever possible and unless advised otherwise on security grounds, their logistical arrangements are undertaken via commercial air carriers, local trains and fuel-efficient vehicles, be it for official or personal travel.”
Who Is Paying For Security?
Questions have been raised over who will pay for Harry and Meghan’s security arrangements moving forward, but Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on the matter.
“There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security,” said the statement.
SussexRoyal.com had a post that read, “The provision of armed security by The Metropolitan Police is mandated by the Home Office, a ministerial department of Her Majesty’s Government, responsible for security and law & order.”
Meanwhile, Gov.uk, the official website for government services and information in the U.K., states, “No breakdown of security costs is available as disclosure of such information could compromise the integrity of these arrangements and affect the security of the individuals protected. It is long established policy not to comment upon the protective security arrangements and their related costs for members of the royal family or their residences.”
Where Are They Living In North America?
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“Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and thanking you for your continued support! We’ve loved meeting so many of you from around the world and can’t wait to meet many more of you next year. We hope 2020 brings each of you health and continued happiness.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Special thanks to Chris Martin and @Coldplay for allowing us to use one of their songs Photo and video © SussexRoyal Thanks to PA for additional images and footage
Harry, Meghan and Archie spent six weeks in Canada over the holiday season, which reportedly included time with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, on Vancouver Island. With hindsight, perhaps they were sussing out places to stay now that they’ve announced their plan to divide their time between the U.K. and North America.
On New Year’s Eve, the couple shared a sweet, never-before-seen picture of Harry and his son on Instagram, writing, “Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and thanking you for your continued support! We’ve loved meeting so many of you from around the world and can’t wait to meet many more of you next year. We hope 2020 brings each of you health and continued happiness.”
They’re Setting New Rules For Reporters
As part of Harry and Meghan’s “step back” from the royal family, they will no longer be cooperating with the “royal rota,” a system that allows a rotation of royal reporters from British newspapers, such as the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, The Telegraph and the Evening Standard, to attend and report on the royal family’s engagements. The pair will instead be more picky as to which organizations they will grant access.
SussexRoyal.com says the couple “believe in a free, strong and open media industry, which upholds accuracy and fosters inclusivity, diversity and tolerance.”
Will The Paparazzi Now Relent?
Sadly, Harry’s hopes for a “more peaceful life” away from the royal spotlight are already in doubt. After photographs of Meghan hiking with Archie and their dogs in Canada were published by several media outlets — including on the front page of Britain’s The Sun — the couple’s legal team issued a warning against running images without consent. Law firm Schillings sent a letter claiming the images had been taken by paparazzi who had been “hiding in the bushes and spying.”
Mental Health Awareness Remains A Priority
Both Harry and Meghan have been passionate advocates of mental health — something which hasn’t changed in the wake of their announcement. A recent post on their Instagram account promoted the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Mental Fitness Charter, which is a new initiative created by the Rugby Football League, of which Harry remains patron.
“This comes at a vital time for both the sport and mental health awareness, with suicide being the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 here in the U.K.” the post read. “Given that 93% of the 42,00 Rugby league players and 70% of spectators are male, the mental health fitness charter is of huge importance to help educate both players and audiences of the benefits of looking after one’s mental wellness.”
Staying Active On Social Media
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Earlier this month, The Duchess of Sussex popped in to see the amazing people at Mayhew to hear about the incredible progress made throughout the festive period. The Duchess of Sussex, having been proud patron of Mayhew since January 2019 and long understanding the connection between animal and community welfare, applauds the people at Mayhew for the vital work that they do every day. From cats and dogs who have found new homes to animal welfare cases handled in the community – @TheMayhew believes in the power of togetherness and the special bond between humans and animals. Image © SussexRoyal
Despite the upheaval and enormous public scrutiny they face, Harry and Meghan continue to document their charity work on Instagram. One recent post, which you can see below, touted Meghan’s recent visit to her patronage, Mayhew, a shelter and clinic for animals.
“[Meghan], having been proud patron of Mayhew since January 2019 and long understanding the connection between animal and community welfare, applauds the people at Mayhew for the vital work that they do every day,” @SussexRoyal wrote in the post.
Will The SussexRoyal Brand Get A Makeover?
Harry and Meghan’s brand, SussexRoyal, is still in its infancy. Its official Instagram account was only created in April 2019, revealing a stylish logo featuring a crown, which you can see in the post below. Now that the couple has stepped away from the royal family, it’s likely their branding will have to be reworked. However, there’s no doubt that the brand is unlikely to lose its value.
Stacy Jones, chief executive of Hollywood Branded, a branded content and influencer marketing agency in Los Angeles, told The Independent that Meghan and Harry had received more than 90,000 mentions in the media in the previous 60 days, and reached well over 300 billion media impressions, giving them a media value of more than $15 billion.
Will They Tell All?
One of many questions on everyone’s lips is, will Harry and Meghan talk? According to journalist Tom Bradby, it could be devastating if they do. “I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred, sit-down interview and I don’t think it would be pretty,” he told The Times. “I suspect the royal family would carry British public opinion still — perhaps only just — but its international standing is a key part of its value to the British state. If that were to be tarnished, it could be very damaging indeed.”
Bradby also shed some light on the couple’s decision to step down. “The fallout began at the time of the wedding in 2018,” he said. “Really damaging things were said and done. The atmosphere soured hard and early, but few meaningful attempts were made by anyone to heal the wounds.”