- Yui Mok / Getty
- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry came to an agreement with the Queen to completely step back from their royal duties starting in the spring, which means they’ll no longer use their HRH titles or receive public funding.
- The couple initially made an announcement on January 8 about taking a “step back” from their senior roles within the royal family, which came as a shock to many.
- However, to those who were watching closely, it may not have actually been a surprise.
- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were dropping hints about their unhappiness with royal life for some time, most noticeably in their ITV documentary.
- In the documentary, Markle said that not many people had asked if she was OK, while Harry said he is reminded of his mother’s death every time he sees a camera flash.
- The couple’s new media regulations detailed on their website also suggest the way the royal family deal with press – for example, by allowing royal reporters from British newspapers to attend and report on the royal family’s engagements – could have influenced the decision.
- The British press has been accused of writing racist articles about the duchess, which Prince Harry even acknowledged when the couple first started dating, calling out the “racial undertones of comment pieces” in an emotional statement.
- Insider has rounded up the signs you might have missed that the duke and duchess were ready to leave the royal family.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
1. Prince Harry once said that nobody in the royal family wanted to be king or queen.
In an interview with Newsweek magazine back in 2017, Prince Harry implied that he did not enjoy being part of the royal family, with the statement: “We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people.”
He added: “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”
His seeming resentment for his role can even be traced as far back as his childhood.
The family’s former protection officer, Ken Wharfe, recalled overhearing an argument between Harry and Prince William when Harry was just four years old.
“And in the end, Harry said: ‘You’ll be king one day, I won’t. Therefore I can do what I want!'” Wharfe said, according to the Express.
2. Harry and Meghan didn’t give their son Archie a royal title.
- Peter Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images
When Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born in May 2019, the couple made the decision not to give their son a courtesy title.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wanted their son to be as normal as possible to begin with, hence no use of the title Earl of Dumbarton,” explained royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams at the time.
Unlike with other royal babies, such as Prince William’s children, Harry and Markle kept the details surrounding Archie’s birth private.
The couple also chose to keep the location of Archie’s birth, his christening service, and godparents private.
3. They split from Kate and William’s Royal Foundation to create their own charity.
- Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Markle and Harry officially resigned from The Royal Foundation – the charity Harry started with the Duke of Cambridge in 2009 – back in June.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will establish their own new charitable foundation with transitional operating support from The Royal Foundation,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.
Fast-forward to January 2020, and the couple’s Instagram statement announcing the departure from their senior roles hints that the launch of their new charity could play a part in this.
“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 said.
“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. “
4. There were rumors of a rift between the couple and the rest of the family for quite some time.
- Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Harry first addressed rumors of a rift with his brother, Prince William, in an ITV documentary about his and Markle’s tour of Africa that aired in October.
“Part of this role and part of this job, this family, being under the pressure that it’s under – inevitably, stuff happens,” he said. “But look, we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment, but I’ll always be there for him, and as I know, he’ll always be there for me.”
A source told People magazine that the couple’s documentary had not affected their relationship with the family, as they had already been drifting apart before it aired.
“There hasn’t been this complete 180,” the source said. “Nothing has changed. They don’t speak. No one is checking in. No one is texting.”
5. Markle admitted she was struggling with royal life in the same documentary.
- ITV News
In the ITV documentary, Markle told the interviewer, Tom Bradby, that things had become particularly difficult since giving birth to her son, Archie, in May.
When asked how the increased media attention had affected her physical and mental health, Markle said: “Look, any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging.
“And then when you have a newborn, you know?”
“And especially as a woman, it’s really – it’s a lot. So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed, it’s …” she said, trailing off.
She added: “Also, thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
To this, Bradby asked: “And the answer is, would it be fair to say, not really OK? As in it’s really been a struggle?”
“Yes,” Markle responded.
6. Markle said friends had warned her not to marry Prince Harry, “because the British tabloids will destroy your life.”
- Dominic Lipinski/ AFP/ Getty Images
In the same interview, Markle went into detail about how her views on the British press had changed since becoming a royal.
“It’s hard. I don’t think anyone can understand that, but in all fairness, I had no idea, which sounds difficult to understand here,” she said.
“But when I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy.
“But my British friends said to me, ‘I’m sure he’s great, but you shouldn’t do it, because the British tabloids will destroy your life.'”
Markle added that she didn’t believe them at first. “What are you talking about?” she said, “That doesn’t make any sense. I’m not in tabloids.
“I didn’t get it.”
7. Prince Harry said he couldn’t look at a camera flash without thinking of his mother’s death.
During Harry’s interview with Tom Bradby, he described the memory of Princess Diana’s death as “a wound that festers.”
“I think being part of this family, in this role, in this job, every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back, so in that respect, it’s the worst reminder of her life, as opposed to the best.”
He added: “But as I said, with the role, with the job, and the sort of pressures that come with that, I get reminded of the bad stuff, unfortunately.”
8. The couple’s plan to create their own brand outside of the royal family could have been in the works for a while.
- Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Years before she set foot in Buckingham Palace, Markle – then a TV actress on legal drama “Suits” – was an advocate for women’s rights. She worked with the UN, World Vision, and many other charities to help spread awareness of gender inequality in developing countries.
Although being a royal has undoubtedly widened Markle’s platform, she developed brand Sussex by using her “celebrity status rather than her royal status,” according to royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams.
Before even meeting Harry, Markle sustained powerful connections and forged friendships in Hollywood, from the likes of George and Amal Clooney to tennis champion Serena Williams.
Oprah, who attended Harry and Markle’s wedding and stood up for Markle after she was badmouthed in the press, last year announced she would be co-producing a mental health documentary series with Prince Harry for Apple.
9. The couple’s new media regulations show they have issues with how the royal family deal with the press.
- Sky News
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced that, as part of their “step back” from the royal family, they will no longer be cooperating with the “royal rota.”
This is a system that allows a rotation of royal reporters from British newspapers to attend and report on the royal family’s engagements.
The UK outlets involved in this system include the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Times of London, and The Sun.
Writing on their website about the reason behind the change, they said that they “believe in a free, strong and open media industry, which upholds accuracy and fosters inclusivity, diversity and tolerance.”
This comes as the British press has been accused of writing racist articles about the duchess. Prince Harry even acknowledged this when the couple first started dating, calling out the “racial undertones of comment pieces” in an emotional statement.
10. The couple’s six-week trip to Canada may have been a trial run.
- Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Less than a week after Markle and Harry announced their wishes to “step back” from their senior roles in the family, the Queen announced that Markle and Harry would be spending time in Canada, amid rumors that the couple plan to move there.
After the couple spent a six-week break in Vancouver Island over the Thanksgiving and Christmas period, Markle returned to the UK for just a few days before heading back to Canada.
The couple’s plans to spend time in Canada were leaked by The Sun before they even announced their initial wishes to step down as senior royals.
A source told the publication: “It is true that Harry and Meghan will spend a fair amount of time in Canada over the next couple of months and possibly going forward too.”
Almost two weeks after Markle and Harry announced their “step back” from royal life, Buckingham Palace released a statement saying that the couple had come to an agreement with the Queen in which they will no longer be working members of the royal family starting in the spring.
As part of Markle and Harry’s new, independent role in the family, they will no longer use their HRH titles, and they’ll stop receiving public funding from the sovereign grant.
They’ll be allowed to become financially independent and can no longer formally represent the Queen.
“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 statement read.