Prince Harry and Meghan Markle surprised the British public — and multiple royal relatives, apparently — by announcing in January 2020 that they intended to “step back” from their duties as senior members of 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,” they wrote in an Instagram statement released on Wednesday. “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.”
They stated that their new lives would involve relocation to North America — for part of the time, anyway — after leaving son Archie in Canada under the care of Meghan’s friend Jessica Mulroney and a nanny following the family’s Christmas celebrations there. “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,” they added. “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.”
Harry and Meghan said that they “look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course” and will “continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties.”
The announcement, however, threw some of those “relevant parties” — including Harry’s older brother, Prince William, and grandmother Queen Elizabeth II — for a loop. One year after dropping the major bombshell, Harry asserted that he didn’t “blindside” the monarch with his choice to step down.
“I have too much respect for her,” he said during a March 2021 tell-all interview on CBS, one month after the pair’s departure from the royal family was made permanent.
During the sit-down, Harry explained that he and Meghan felt “a lack of support and lack of understanding” from The Firm, especially when it came to how they approached the British press and their takedowns of the couple.
“When you can see something happening in the same kind of way, anybody would ask for help, ask the system of which you are a part of, especially when you know there’s a relationship there, that they could help and share some truth or call the dogs off, whatever you want to call it. So, to receive no help at all and to be told continuously, ‘This is how it is. This is just how it is. We’ve all been through it,’” he said at the time. “It was like, ‘I need to do this for my family.’ This is not a surprise to anybody. It’s really sad that it’s gotten to this point, but I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s, and for Archie’s, as well, because I could see where this was headed.”
Scroll down to read more about all the drama that ensued following the couple’s step back: