Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to 'step back' from senior royal duties
Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, Prince Harry, and his American actress wife, Meghan Markle, said they’ll “step back” from their roles as senior members of the royal family and “work to become financially independent.”
“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages,” the couple, known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, said in an emailed statement. “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.”
The decision to step back from public life followed “many months of reflection and internal discussion,” the couple said, adding that they would share further details of their charitable venture “in due course.” Prince Harry isn’t in the direct line of succession to the throne, and is preceded by his father, Prince Charles, his brother Prince William, and William’s three children.
The move by the 35-year-old prince and his 38-year-old wife seeks to draw a line under what has been a fraught period for the couple. The U.K. tabloid press has been filled with negative stories about Markle since the couple’s marriage in 2018, leading her to take legal action against Associated Newspapers. On Oct. 1, Prince Harry issued a statement drawing a parallel between her treatment by the press and that of his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by photographers.
“My wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences -- ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son,” Harry said in his Oct. 1 statement. “I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized 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.”
The couple’s ambition to become financially independent suggests they may stop drawing on public funds. At present, they’re paid from a mixture of money from the sovereign grant, which is an annual payment by the U.K. Treasury to the Royal Household, supplemented by revenues from the Duchy of Cornwall, the estate of Prince Charles.