Royal Rift: All Your Questions On Harry And Meghan's Resignation, Answered!
How are they going to earn money, how does this affect the monarchy? We give you the details in this Q&A
Only 10 days into the new year and already the world’s had a lot to handle, the least important—and yet one of the most talked about—being this: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, also known as Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, have effectively resigned from their royal duties.
In a move that is thoroughly millennial, Harry and Meghan announced they will be stepping back from royal life on Instagram. They said, “We have chosen 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.”
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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
The couple and their little boy, Archie Harrison, will divide their “time between the United Kingdom and North America... [to] 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.”
A young family striking out on their own and be financially independent. All very admirable and should be expected of every young family. Yet their decision sent shockwaves throughout the United Kingdom. The most hurt is the Queen herself, who wasn’t afforded the courtesy of being informed about the announcement. Reports say the Queen, her son Prince Charles, and Harry’s brother, Prince William, all found out about the news on TV. It seemed Harry and Meghan just went ahead and leaped into their brave new world without saying a proper goodbye to their centuries-old one.
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This morning, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was christened in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle at an intimate service officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are so happy to share the joy of this day with members of the public who have been incredibly supportive since the birth of their son. They thank you for your kindness in welcoming their first born and celebrating this special moment. Their Royal Highnesses feel fortunate to have enjoyed this day with family and the godparents of Archie. Their son, Archie, was baptised wearing the handmade replica of the royal christening gown which has been worn by royal infants for the last 11 years. The original Royal Christening Robe, made of fine Honiton lace lined with white satin, was commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1841 and first worn by her eldest daughter. It was subsequently worn for generations of Royal christenings, including The Queen, her children and her grandchildren until 2004, when The Queen commissioned this handmade replica, in order for the fragile historic outfit to be preserved, and for the tradition to continue. Photo credit: Chris Allerton ©️SussexRoyal
Was the royal family really blindsided by the announcement?
Not entirely. Palace insiders say that the Queen was discussing Harry’s plans over the Christmas break. The royal family knew Harry and Meghan wanted out but they were still figuring out the details. Royal watchers are not surprised either since Harry and Meghan have been complaining about public scrutiny and cruel media coverage for a few years now.
What is certain was the announcement was not approved. Vanity Fair reports, “There were talks over the Christmas break between the couple and the family, over the phone because the Sussexes were away [in Canada], but they were very early stage talks, nothing had been agreed. Some of what [Harry and Meghan] are proposing is very complicated and isn’t just something that can happen overnight.”
The royal family had bent over backwards for Harry—his decision to marry a non-British and non-Anglican woman, the Queen attended their wedding (as the Head of the Church of England, the Queen traditionally does not attend the weddings of divorced people), even the couple’s break with tradition of spending the holidays with the Queen was allowed. What was not given a blessing was the announcement—and on the 38th birthday of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, too, which overshadowed what was supposed to have been a celebration of the future queen’s day.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman admitted the family has been discussing the plans of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex but that these discussions were “at an early stage” before adding: “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
What’s the role of royals anyway?
They are a symbol of history, tradition, and continuity. They are ambassadors of the kingdom and keep good will among the Commonwealth nations. They are a unifying force for the British public, which is ironically also the reason why they’re prevented to take sides on political issues since they, the Queen especially, can sway public opinion.
The modern role of royals was ushered in by Diana, Princess of Wales. She used her high-profile platform to draw attention to charities and causes that people have never heard of or refuse to look at, issues like HIV/AIDS and homelessness. Prince Charles was pro-environment even before climate change was on anyone’s radar. Prince William and his wife Catherine are focused on mental health. On their new website, Harry and Meghan said they will create a new charity that will focus on the environment and female empowerment.
This awareness is not just public relations. Their patronage can raise millions for the charities they support.
How are they going to earn a living now? Isn’t their whole existence financed by the British taxpayers?
Contrary to what the world thinks, the monarchy is not a charity. Part of the taxes go to a fund called the Sovereign Grant, which is 15% of the profits made by the Crown Estate, independently managed commercial properties of the royal family. This is used to fund the public activities of the royals, such as official trips and the upkeep of the palaces and castles.
As for Harry and Meghan, they only receive 5% of this budget. The rest of their income as official royal members comes from Charles, whose income is derived from the very profitable Duchy of Cornwall.
The couple has an estimated combined wealth of $45 million. It could be more since Harry not only has an inheritance from his mother, Diana, and his great grandmother, he will also collect an inheritance from his grandmother and father. Meghan is a rich woman herself. She earned around $5 million from her former career as an actress and lifestyle blogger.
Now that they aim to be financially independent of the British taxpayer, they can actually earn more money through various projects like book deals, speaking engagements, and producing documentaries. In Meghan's case, she can profit from fashion partnerships and collaborations with brands for mothers, babies and the home. In other words, they’ll be just fine.
Will the Queen strip them of their titles?
Harry is officially Prince Henry of Wales, Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton, and Baron Kilkeel. While an upset British public are calling for the monarch to remove the honorific titles of Harry and Meghan, this is highly unlikely as Harry, whether he likes it or not, is still the son of a future king and the brother of another future king.
Just because you depart the family doesn’t mean you lose your titles. As an example, even when Diana was commanded by the Queen to divorce, she kept her title, Princess of Wales. However, since Buckingham Palace said this emancipation is an ongoing process, who knows what the Queen will decide?
What does this mean for the future of the monarchy?
While people like to compare the exit of Harry and Meghan with the abdication of Edward VIII, that is far from the case. Theirs is voluntary while Edward’s choice was forced on him by the government and the royal family since the monarch can’t be married to an American divorcée who also happened to have connections with the Nazi. To have a man like that on the throne is dangerous, hence, his abdication and exile.
Harry, while married to an American divorcée just like his great grand uncle, is just 6th in line to the throne and presents no threat at all and will cause no constitutional crisis.
Harry and Meghan may be unaware, however, that they are still senior members of the royal family and are needed by the monarch to represent her at the hundreds of events she is asked to honor with her presence. At 93, she has cut back on her appearances and relies on the new generation to cover for her. Her consort, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, retired from public duties three years ago because of ill health.
This means her heir, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are more active in representing Her Majesty all over the kingdom and the Commonwealth nations. The Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, and her third son, the Earl of Wessex and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, can also be counted on. Her second son, Andrew, Duke of York, was recently taken out of circulation because of a sex scandal.
In recent years, the Fab Four composed of William and Kate and Harry and Meghan electrified the British public with their youth, passion, grace, style, and sex appeal. Even anti-royals welcomed them and the breath of fresh air they caused to sweep through the centuries-old institution and the casual glamour they brought to the stuffy monarchy.
With Harry and Meghan removing themselves from the royal family, this only strengthens the monarchy. Anti-royalists have been complaining about the taxes that support the royal family, even questioning their purpose in the modern age. Prince Charles has responded by downsizing the family, basically, only those who are heirs should be supported by the people—and this decision has proved to be a popular one to the British (but not with the extended members of the royal family).
With a streamlined royal family, the British public will be less resistant to the monarchy. The Queen will soon be succeeded by Charles. His heir, William, is beloved and, together with Catherine, has shown loyalty and dignity to the British people. They are sure to groom their son, little George, to be just as dutiful and loyal to the kingdom.
As for Harry and Meghan, they have played their role as royals and are now excited to see what’s beyond it. With his father’s insistence on a downsized family, Harry must’ve realized he and his family are now minor players and can actually break free and pursue what they really want, which is to support their charities, promote their causes, and maybe finally be able to express their political views. This may or may not happen—as long as Harry is a Prince of the Kingdom, the Queen will still be the final judge. However, while the Palace says it’s a “complicated” issue, in the end, Harry and Meghan’s decision doesn’t change the monarchy’s main purpose: succession and tradition. Charles, William, and little George are still the heirs. Nothing has changed. All will be well.
Photos from @sussexroyal