The British Royal Family can be considered to have one of the most secure lines of succession among royal houses in the world. With Queen Elizabeth II still at the throne, she is assured to be followed by her son Charles, Prince of Wales. After Charles comes his firstborn William, Duke of Cambridge who also has children of his own, not to mention his younger brother Harry, Duke of Sussex, also with a son by his wife the Duchess Meghan. What seems like a stable Royal household was surprised this week by a statement from Prince Harry and his wife.
BBC tells us that on Wednesday, January 8, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced their intention to dial back on their obligations as Senior Royals of the British Royal House of Windsor. Bypassing Royal media protocol, the couple made their plans known through their shared Instagram page rather than via the accredited “royal rota” of major UK media entities. They also announced their plans to eschew living on funds from the private of Harry’s father Prince Charles, instead opting for financial independence, as well as planning to split time between the UK and North America.
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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
To say that the rest of the British Royals were caught off guard by the Duke and Duchess’ pronouncement would be too tame. Media buzz has it that the rest of the Senior Royals and Buckingham Palace itself have expressed “hurt” and “disappointment” because Harry and Meghan decided on their course of action unilaterally, without consulting with the rest of the Family. The two explained that despite cutting themselves off from the public-paid Royal Grant, they will continue using Frogmoore Cottage as their official residence with the Queen’s permission, but will shuttle back and forth between Britain and the US/Canada while doing what other duties the Queen, Commonwealth and their patronages would ask of them.
A possible root cause of Prince Harry and Meghan’s actions could be their shared animosity to excessive media attention. The Duke recalls in a statement how his mother the late Princess Diana chafed under constant press scrutiny, which he says he sees being repeated with Meghan, formerly an actress.
The spotlight only intensified with the birth of their son Archie, especially since they did not provide him a courtesy title so he can grow up a private citizen. The Duke and Duchess along with their son recently spent Christmas in Canada, where Meghan had once worked as a major cast member in the US legal drama “Suits,” shot in Toronto.
While Harry has remarked that he and his wife will retain their Royal titles despite their “stepping” back, UK media speculation is rampant on how well their decision for independence will play out. The Prince and then-Meghan Markle married May 2018, with their son Archie being born in May 2019. Seemingly in reaction to their decision, Madame Tussauds have removed wax figures of the couple from the British Royal display in London, with the New York museum’s display following suit.
Image courtesy of NBC News