Prince Harry and Meghan are giving up their HRH titles and stepping away from Royal duties in an arrangement announced by the Queen on Saturday.
“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 Queen said in a statement issued by Buckingham Palace. “Harry, Meghan and [their son] 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.”
The statement said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments.” It added that the couple will no longer receive public funds and they will drop their titles “His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness”. They will remain Duke and Duchess but “will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family,” the Queen said.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, will still have access to Frogmore Cottage, a five-bedroom home near Windsor Castle, and they have agreed to pay back the £2.4-million ($4-million) of taxpayers’ money that was spent refurbishing the house for them.
The Queen’s statement came less than two weeks after Harry and Meghan announced that they wanted greater freedom from the Royal household and more financial independence. They also said they planned to divide their time between Britain and North America, with Canada the likely destination. The announcement caught members of the Royal family off guard and the Queen summoned Harry, Prince Charles and Prince William to a crisis meeting last Monday to work out an arrangement.
Bob Morris, a monarchy researcher at University College London, said Saturday’s statement still leaves many questions unanswered, in particular how the couple will earn a living. “There are all sorts of uncertainties about their financial position,” Dr. Morris said in an interview.
Most of the couple’s current income comes from the Duchy of Cornwall, an entity set up in 1337 for the heir to the throne which now has about £1-billion in assets and is headed by Prince Charles. Harry and Prince William each receive roughly £2.5-million annually from the Duchy. It’s not clear if Prince Charles will continue paying Harry. The Duke and Duchess have also agreed to give up their share of an annual stipend the government pays to senior members of the Royal family, although they said that funding represents just 5 per cent of their income.
The statement also didn’t clarify who will cover the cost of their security, which has been estimated at around £600,000 annually. Saturday’s statement didn’t comment on security other than to say; “There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly- funded security.” The Canadian government has not said if it will cover the cost of the couple’s security if they decide to live in the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that security costs were "part of the reflection that needs to be had and there are discussions going on.”
While the statement said the couple will keep their “private patronages and associations,” Harry is expected to lose his role as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. He will also have to give up a number of military titles including Captain General Royal Marines, the ceremonial head of the Marines. It’s unclear what will happen to his patronages of other organizations such as the Royal Ontario Museum, the Rugby Football Union and the Rhino Conservation Botswana. Meghan is expected to keep her position as vice president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
“There are a lot of things which are not clear and which will only become more apparent over weeks, I imagine, or months,” said Dr. Morris.
The Duke and Duchess have indicated that they plan to pursue a number of charitable activities and they have registered “Sussex Royal” as a trademark for more than 100 products and services. That includes clothing, magazines, newspapers, post cards, calendars as well as "marketing and promotion of charitable campaigns” and "personal development training”.
Robert Lacey, a British historian who is a consultant to the Netflix series The Crown, said Saturday’s announcement was a sensible compromise. “From the point of view of the British taxpayer it was absolutely indispensable that they paid off the refurbishments of Frogmore Cottage,” Mr. Lacey said in an interview. “It was the major obstacle as far as British public opinion was concerned.”
He added that the couple were not being dismissed from the Royal family, like Prince Andrew was in November because of his association with American pedophile Jeffery Epstein. “It’s a voluntary renunciation on their part to give them more freedom when it comes to the causes they take up in Canada and North America," he said. "This doesn’t preclude them from going back to the Royal family at some date in the future.”
Mr. Lacey added that the couple now has an opportunity to set up a charitable organisation along the lines of foundations established by former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. “This now leaves them free to pursue causes that might be considered controversial or political in British Royal terms,” he said. “I would have thought they could create a new source of philanthropic initiative that is separate and independent of the Royal family but not antagonistic to it. We’re looking at a new sort of partnership. And I think the fact that this partnership will take place in a Commonwealth monarchy is all to the good and offers the prospect of a new sort of relationship.”
The couple have yet to officially say that they plan to live in Canada at least part time. However, Meghan has been spending time in a mansion on Vancouver Island with their eight-month old son Archie and Harry is expected to join them there soon after completing some engagements in Britain. Should they seek to remain in Canada, experts say they will face a host of immigration and tax issues.
In a brief post on their website, Harry and Meghan said: “In line with the statement by Her Majesty The Queen, information on the roles and work of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be updated on this website in due course. We appreciate your patience and invite you to explore the site to see the current works of Their Royal Highnesses.”
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