What's Going On With Harry and Meghan? Everything to Know About Their Royal Exit
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have officially left the British royal family. Following their six-week break in Canada over the holidays, the royal couple made the announcement on their website and official Instagram account on Jan. 8. "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," the statement read. "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." A week later, the palace confirmed that they sorted out the details of Harry and Meghan's departure, including the status of their royal titles and their financial independence.
So much has happened since the initial announcement, and we're anticipating even more information to come out as they settle into their new life in LA. Take a look at everything we know about Harry and Meghan's bold decision ahead.
Prince Harry and Prince William Divide Princess Diana's Memorial Fund
According to People, Harry and William split the proceeds of the fund set up in memory of their late mother between their charities in June. The Diana fund has not been actively fundraising for many years, but it receives money from legacies and other donations. Harry has asked for his share to go toward his Sentebale charity, which aims to help young people living or affected by HIV/AIDS in Lesotho and Botswana.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Sever Ties With British Tabloids
Now that Harry and Meghan are no longer senior members of the royal family and have moved to LA, the couple have chosen to sever ties with several British tabloids. In April, Harry and Meghan sent a letter to the editors of The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, and Daily Express, saying they refuse to "offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion" and will have "zero engagement" with the publications.
"It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print — even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much-needed industry is degraded," the letter read. "There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know — as well as complete strangers — have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue."
When Will We See Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Next?
Ahead of their royal departure on March 31, Harry and Meghan carried out several public engagements. On Feb. 28, Harry and Jon Bon Jovi visited the Invictus Games Choir, and on March 5, he and Meghan attended the Endeavour Fund Awards. On March 6, two days before International Women's Day, Meghan took a surprise trip to Robert Clack School in Dagenham, England, where she spoke to students about the holiday's significance. The same day, Harry and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton helped celebrate the opening of the Silverstone Experience museum, and on March 7, he and Meghan made an appearance at the Mountbatten Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall.
On March 9, Harry and Meghan joined the royal family for the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey. They were expected to take part in the Invictus Games in May, but due to coronavirus concerns, the event was pushed back to 2021. The games were originally going to take place in The Hague, Netherlands.
Now, Harry and Meghan are lying low, but they're using their platform to educate others about COVID-19. Meghan recently narrated Disneynature's documentary Elephant, which follows an elephant family's 1,000-mile journey across Africa. She then made a special appearance on Good Morning America to talk about the film, and the couple has also been making virtual appearances in support of causes close to their hearts.
Where Are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Currently Living?
Just days before Harry and Meghan officially stepped down as royals in March, it was announced that the couple had relocated from Vancouver Island in Canada to Los Angeles. According to People, Harry and Meghan "have been living in a secluded compound and haven't ventured out amid the coronavirus pandemic."
When Did Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Officially Step Down as Royals?
Harry and Meghan's royal duties officially ended on March 31, and the couple no longer hold an office at Buckingham Palace. "The Duke and Duchess will be spending their time in both the United Kingdom and North America," their spokesperson told People in February. "In addition to continuing to work closely with their existing patronages as they build a plan for engagements in the U.K. and the Commonwealth throughout the year, The Duke and Duchess have also been undertaking meetings as part of their ongoing work to establish a new non-profit organization. The details of this new organization will be shared later in the year.
"In general, the themes of their cause related work will remain unchanged, which includes the Commonwealth, community, youth empowerment and mental health, collectively."
Ahead of their exit, Harry and Meghan hired Catherine St-Laurent, who previously worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as their new chief of staff and the executive director of their new nonprofit organization.
"We are proud to be joined by Catherine St-Laurent in this next chapter with us. Her leadership and proven track record working within two organizations that have tremendous impact in the world — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures — make her an incredible asset and we are excited to have her on our team," the couple told People in a statement. The new nonprofit will replace Harry and Meghan's Sussex Royal charity, which the pair officially shut down, Us Weekly reported on July 3.
Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Keep Their Royal Titles?
Harry and Meghan will keep their HRH styles but will not actively use them. As of March 21, Meghan is no longer listed as "Her Royal Highness" on several websites and social media accounts for charities she works with. But she and Harry will continue to be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton, and the Baron and Baroness Kilkeel. Harry will also retain the ranks of major, lieutenant commander, and squadron leader, though his honorary military positions will not be used during the 12-month period. He will remain sixth in line for the British throne, and Harry and Meghan's status in the order of precedence will remain the same.
However, they will not use the word "royal" moving forward. "While The Duke and Duchess are focused on plans to establish a new non-profit organisation, given the specific UK government rules surrounding use of the word 'Royal,' it has been therefore agreed that their non-profit organisation, when it is announced this Spring, will not be named Sussex Royal Foundation," a spokesperson said in a statement, according to People.
A day before they officially stepped down as royals, Harry and Meghan announced the end of their @sussexroyal Instagram account, as well as their official website. "As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute," their joint statement read. "While you may not see us here, the work continues. Thank you to this community - for the support, the inspiration and the shared commitment to the good in the world. We look forward to reconnecting with you soon. You've been great!"
In addition, the trademark applications that were filed for "Sussex Royal" have been removed.
Are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Taking Endorsement Offers?
Not so fast! After Fame by Sheeraz announced on Instagram in February that it was now "taking appearance and endorsement requests" for Harry and Meghan, Buckingham Palace quickly shut down the claim, calling it "categorically untrue."
How Do Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Make Money?
Since Harry and Meghan are now planning to "work to become financially independent," that means they'll be giving up their share of Queen Elizabeth II's Sovereign Grant. However, it looks like they're going to be just fine. According to a 2019 report, the grant only contributed to five percent of the couple's total income (the other 95 came from Charles's private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall). Harry and Meghan also have their own savings, as Meghan racked up a few million from her acting work and Harry and Prince William inherited almost all of the late Princess Diana's fortune and part of the queen mother's.
In addition, Harry and Meghan filed to trademark their brand, Sussex Royal, this past June, which could cover hundreds of items relating to clothing, campaigning, charitable fundraising, and education and make them more money. Oh, and now that they're not senior members of the royal family, they could receive offers for book deals, TV show appearances, and other similar opportunities.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Statement About Stepping Back From the Royal Family
"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," the joint statement read. "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."
Meghan and Harry also added that the "geographic balance" between the UK and North America will enable them to raise their 8-month-old son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, and provide their 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," the statement continued. "Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support."
Buckingham Palace's Statement in Response to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Shortly after Meghan and Harry's announcement, Buckingham Palace released a statement of its own, making it sound like the couple acted alone and the palace was left in the dark about their decision. "Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage," the statement read. "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
However, Us Weekly later reported that Harry and Meghan were forced to make their announcement sooner than anticipated because The Sun had already heard about their plan and was preparing a story about it. "It was the paper's front page hours before the official announcement, so Harry and Meghan technically didn't beat them to it," a source told the publication.
Queen Elizabeth II Issues a Statement About Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Following a series of meetings at Sandringham estate, the queen responded to Harry and Meghan's historic announcement with a statement of her own, which read as follows:
"Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.
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.
Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.
It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.
These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days."
Why Wasn't Meghan Markle in Attendance For the Queen's Royal Family Summit?
On Jan. 13, Harry attended a crisis talk meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, and Prince Charles to talk about his and Meghan's future, though the duchess was absent because she was in Canada with her son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. It was initially reported that Meghan phoned in to the meeting, but a royal aide told Harper's Bazaar that "in the end, the Sussexes decided that it wasn't necessary for the duchess to join."
Queen Elizabeth II Confirms Discussions About Harry and Meghan's Departure Concluded
On Jan. 18, the queen released another statement, saying discussions about Harry and Meghan's departure ended and they reached a resolution.
"Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family," the statement read.
"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.
"I recognise 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.
"I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family."
That same day, Buckingham Palace released a separate statement, revealing some of the particulars from their agreement.
"As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments," the statement read. "They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties.
"With The Queen's blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.
"The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family.
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.
"Buckingham Palace does not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security.
"This new model will take effect in the Spring of 2020."
Meghan Markle Threatens Lawsuit Over Photos of Her and Archie Hiking
According to TMZ, Meghan and Harry's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to British media outlets on Jan. 21 saying that legal action will be taken if they publish or purchase recent photos of Meghan on a walk with Archie and her two dogs. "There are serious safety concerns about how the paparazzi are driving and the risk to life they pose" the letter reportedly read. The letter also hints that a lawsuit may already be in the works because multiple outlets have already published the photos in question.
Prince Harry Breaks His Silence on the Royal Split
"The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. I have grown up feeling support from so many of you, and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms as you saw me find the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hurray," Harry said. "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 got it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option."
He also made it clear that he and Meghan aren't "walking away." "Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible," he added. "I will always have the utmost respect for my grandmother, my commander in chief, and I am incredibly grateful to her and the rest of my family for the support they have shown Meghan and I over the last few months. I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear and dedicates his life to supporting the causes, charities, and military communities that are so important to me."
Prince Harry Returns to Canada to Reunite With Meghan Markle and Baby Archie
Harry was photographed arriving in Vancouver on Jan. 20 to reunite with Meghan and their 8-month-old son, Archie.