Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom released a statement on January 18 announcing that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will relinquish their British royal titles this spring, released as the couple has been mulling plans to establish a new independent life in Canada. The second son of Crown Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married in 2018 at Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom. Markle, a American by birth, retired from an acting career following their engagement in order to begin public life as a member of the British royal family, becoming a princess of the United Kingdom following her marriage to Harry.
The departure was anticipated as the couple was reportedly unhappy with public life in the royal family, culminating in an extended holiday in Vancouver that became an experiment in independence. The couple will no longer receive public funds and will need to reimburse UK taxpayers for $3 million in renovations to Frogmore Cottage, their home on the grounds of Windsor Castle. They will also begin to pay rent.
However, financial independence will likely not be a problem for the couple, with Harry receiving a sizable inheritance from his mother Diana and personal support from his father Charles, and Meghan receiving substantial compensation from her former career as an actress. Those assets, combined with strong demand for book, movie, and television deals with the couple, should provide them with ample income for a very comfortable life.
The British Monarchy
For more than 100 years, the role of the British monarch has largely been ceremonial, with actual governmental decision-making powers residing with Parliament and the Prime Minister’s office. The royal family has become one of the principal symbols of the British state, its members the human embodiment of The Crown, a formal remnant of its traditional monarchy. This rich historical tradition and the public nature of royal duties led to a media obsession with the family, along with intense public scrutiny. This level of attention is said to be one of the reasons for Harry and Meghan’s separation from royal duties, although its anticipated the move will only increase the amount of attention the couple’s activities attract.
The move has little impact on the succession of power; Harry was sixth in line to the throne, with his father Charles and his older brother William ahead of him in succession order. The couple will no longer be addressed as “His Royal Highness” or “Her Royal Highness,” but Harry will retain his hereditary title as the Duke of Sussex and Meghan her title as Dutchess by marriage, and so although no longer royal, they will still be nobility, as will their child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.