Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, has officially announced on 9 January 2020 that they willl be stepping back as “senior members” of Britain’s royal family.
This follows a specuation period that stemmed from Harry, Meghan and their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, being absent from the royal family’s Christmas celebration. They spent a six-week leave of absence away from royal duties to spend “extended family time” with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, in Canada over the 2019 holiday season.
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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
According to a statement on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ official Instagram page, the couple will be transitioning away from their roles as “senior” royals and will begin splitting their time between the U.K. and North America from this year onwards.
Two hours after the statement was shared, Buckingham Palace also posted its own short response.
A statement from Buckingham Palace regarding The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. https://t.co/1qtTEHiIq6
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) January 8, 2020
A Complicated Situation
The news came as a shock to many, including, it seems, other members of the royal family and even the queen.
According to sources such as CNN and Fox News Channel, the move has led to a rift within the family. Aides are admitting that they were blindsided by the statement and that there was a “great sense of disappointment” over the Sussexes’ decision to make the “early stage” plans public.
The official statement by Buckingham Palace hints at a sense of betrayal, noting that, “discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work though.”
Royals no more?
As of now, the Sussexes are still members of the British royal family. They are merely stepping back from their roles as “senior” members, but will still be considered “working royals,” as they will be financially independent.
Based on SussexRoyal.com, by “transitioning to a new working model,” the Sussexes will no longer receive money through the Sovereign Grant, which is the “annual funding mechanism of the monarchy.” By stepping back and giving up access to the fund, Harry and Meghan will now be permitted financial independence, and still fulfil their duties as being part of the Royal institution.