The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they will step back as “senior” royals and work to become financially independent.
In a statement, Prince Harry and Meghan also said they plan to split their time between the UK and North America.
The BBC understands no other royal – including the Queen or Prince William – was consulted before the statement and Buckingham Palace is “disappointed”.
Senior royals are understood to be “hurt” by the announcement.
Last October, Prince Harry and Meghan publicly revealed their struggles under the media spotlight.
In their unexpected statement on Wednesday, also posted on their Instagram page, the couple said they made the decision “after many months of reflection and internal discussions”.
They said they plan to balance their time between the UK and North America while “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.”
BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said the fact palace officials said they were “disappointed” is “pretty strong”.
“I think it indicates a real strength of feeling in the palace tonight – maybe not so much about what has been done but about how it has been done – and the lack of consultation I think will sting.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said discussions with the duke and duchess on their decision to step back were “at an early stage”, adding: “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
Over Christmas, the couple took a six-week break from royal duties to spend some time in Canada with their son, Archie, who was born in May.
During the visit, Meghan said it was an “incredible time” to enjoy the “beauty of Canada”.
“To see Archie go ‘ah’ when you walk by, and just see how stunning it is – so it meant a lot to us.”
Close up, it was painfully clear that there were great chunks of the job they simply could not stand.
Both of them appeared to come alive with the crowds. But Harry hated the cameras and was visibly bored by the ceremonial.
And though Meghan was often the consummate professional, at times her impatience with the everyday slog of the role sometimes broke through.
She said she didn’t want to become a voiceless figurehead; but when she raised her voice, she found criticism waiting for her.
They both made their feelings known in the 2019 interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby.
But beyond the detail, what was so shocking was how unhappy they both seemed. The sun-drenched wedding of the year before seemed like a dream; here were two people visibly struggling with their lives and positions.
There are far more questions than answers; what will their new role be? Where will they live, and who will pay for it? What relationship will they have with the rest of the Royal Family?
And there’s the institutional question. What does this mean for the Royal Family?
It comes just a few months after Prince Andrew stepped back from his duties. Some might see this as the slimmed-down monarchy that the 21st century needs.
But Harry and Meghan reached people that other royals didn’t.
Former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter suggested the decision showed Prince Harry’s “heart ruling his head”.
He told the BBC the “massive press onslaught” when their son Archie was born may have played a part in the decision.
And he compared the move to Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 in order to marry twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.
Asked how being a “part-time” member of the Royal Family might work, Mr Arbiter said he did not know.
“If they’re going to be based in the UK, it means they are going to be doing a lot of flying [with] a big carbon footprint,” he said, adding that this may “raise eyebrows”.
He also questioned how the couple would become financially independent.
“I mean, Harry is not a poor man, but to settle yourself in two different continents, to raise a family, to continue to do your work – how’s the work going to be funded?
“How is their security going to be funded?
“Because they’re still going to have to have security – who’s going to have to pay for this? Where’s the security coming from? Is the Metropolitan Police going to be providing it and if so whether there’s going to be any contribution in covering the security cost?”
BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said the couple have “considerable savings”, including Harry’s inheritance from Princess Diana’s estate and the money Meghan earned as an actress.
But, asked about whether they might get jobs, he added: “There is a problem for members of the Royal Family – relatively senior ones, even if they say they’re no longer senior – getting jobs, because they are seen to monetise their brand and you run into a whole host of questions about conflict of interest”.
He added that we are now in “wait and see mode” as to whether this new model of being a royal can work – “or if this is really a staging post for them to leave the Royal Family”.
The Prince of Wales pays for the public duties of Harry, Meghan, William and Kate and some of their private costs, out of his Duchy of Cornwall income, which was £21.6m last year.
Accounts from Clarence House show this funding – in the year Meghan officially joined the Royal Family – stood at just over £5m, up 1.8% on 2017-18.
Royal author Penny Junor said she “can’t quite see how it’s going to work”, adding: “I don’t think it’s been properly thought through.”
In an ITV documentary last year, Meghan admitted motherhood was a “struggle” due to intense interest from newspapers.
Prince Harry also responded to reports of a rift between him and his brother William, the Duke of Cambridge, by saying they were on “different paths”.
In October, the duchess began legal action against the Mail on Sunday over a claim that it unlawfully published one of her private letters.
Prince Harry also released a statement, saying: “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
The duke and duchess moved out of Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live, in 2018 to set up their family home in Windsor.
Then last summer, they split from the charity they shared with Prince William and Kate to set up their own charitable projects.
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.
Statement from HM The Queen.
grandson and his family.
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.
Statement from Buckingham Palace
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.
As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties.
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 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.
This new model will take effect in the Spring of 2020.
8 NOVEMBER 2016
Since he was young, Prince Harry has been very aware of the warmth that has been extended to him by members of the public. He feels lucky to have so many people supporting him and knows what a fortunate and privileged life he leads.
been comfortable with this, but he has tried to develop a thick skin about the level of media interest that comes with it. He has rarely taken formal action on the very regular publication of fictional stories that are written about him and he has worked hard to develop a professional relationship with the media, focused on his work and the issues he cares about.
Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game – it is her life and his.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has taken the unusual decision to sue the publisher of the Mail on Sunday after the newspaper published a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father.
The decision came as Prince Harry launched an extraordinary and highly personal attack on the British tabloid press and its treatment of his wife, saying he could no longer be a “silent witness to her private suffering”.
The duke said his “deepest fear is history repeating itself”. He wrote: “There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.
“Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one … I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.
The statement, issued on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official website on Tuesday, was published as Meghan moved to start proceedings in the high court over the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The Mail on Sunday has run multiple embarrassing stories involving the duchess’s father, Thomas Markle, including staged paparazzi photographs of him visiting an internet cafe to read about his daughter’s engagement to the prince.
Other critical coverage of the couple has ranged from their use of private jets to their refusal to allow media coverage of the christening of their baby son Archie or name his godparents. They have also been criticised for the £2.4m cost to the public purse for renovations at their Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage.
The photographs of the letter remain available on MailOnline. A spokesman for the newspaper stood by its reporting, setting up a potential court showdown: “The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously. Specifically, we categorically deny that the Duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning.”
Meghan and Harry, who are on a 10-day tour of southern Africa, have employed the libel lawyers Schillings, using private funds to bring the case.
In his statement, Harry emphasised that he and Meghan believed in “media freedom and objective, truthful reporting” as a “cornerstone of democracy”.
“Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.
“I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.”
The statement is unprecedented in the scale of its attack on the media, although it is far from the first time Harry has taken on the press.
When news of his relationship with Meghan Markle became public, he criticised “racial overtones” in reporting.
His latest statement accused the British tabloid press of waging a “ruthless” campaign against Meghan that had “escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son”.
Harry, said the recent positive coverage of their African tour exposed “the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave”.
“She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you’ve seen on this Africa tour.
A legal spokesperson for Schillings said: “We have initiated legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday, and its parent company Associated Newspapers, over the intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter written by the Duchess of Sussex, which is part of a campaign by this media group to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband.
“Given the refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily, we have issued proceedings to redress this breach of privacy, infringement of copyright and the aforementioned media agenda.”
END OF THE ARTICLE
Prince Harry’s full statement on his family’s relationship with the media, issued on Tuesday night after his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, launched legal action against the Mail on Sunday over its decision to publish a private letter she had sent to her father.
As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world – on every level – we have never needed responsible media more.
There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.
Up to now, we have been unable to correct the continual misrepresentations – something that these select media outlets have been aware of and have therefore exploited on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.
For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.
This particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media. The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question. In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.
There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.
Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.