In what some people are choosing to call "Megxit," Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have announced they will be leaving their roles as "senior royals," and will be splitting their time between the UK and North America. They made the announcement on their social media accounts as well as their official website.
"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. 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. 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.
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. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” - The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also answered a list of questions regarding their "financial independence." It's not a surprise that people are curious as to where the couple will get their money.
“In 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made the choice to transition into a new working model. As they step back as senior members of the Royal Family and no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, they will become members of the Royal Family with financial independence which is something they look forward to. As The Duke and Duchess of Sussex prepare to make this change, the answers to the following questions aim to provide clarity on existing and future funding arrangements,” they wrote on their website.
Why are The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing this new working model?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex take great pride in their work and are committed to continuing their charitable endeavours as well as establishing new ones. In addition, they value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing. For this reason they have made the choice to become members of the Royal Family with financial independence.
Their Royal Highnesses feel this new approach will enable them to continue to carry out their duties for Her Majesty The Queen, while having the future financial autonomy to work externally. While the contribution from The Sovereign Grant covers just five percent of costs for The Duke and Duchess and is specifically used for their official office expense, Their Royal Highnesses prefer to release this financial tie. More details on the specifics of the Sovereign Grant are outlined below.
What is the Sovereign Grant?
The Sovereign Grant is the annual funding mechanism of the monarchy that covers the work of the Royal Family in support of HM The Queen including expenses to maintain official residences and workspaces. In this exchange, The Queen surrenders the revenue of the Crown Estate and in return, a portion of these public funds are granted to The Sovereign/The Queen for official expenditure. This is outlined in the 2018-19 Annual Report of the Sovereign Grant which is linked below. Please note, this structure replaced The Civil List in 2012. More details on this can be found on The United Kingdom’s public sector information website: gov.uk
Do any other members of the Royal Family hold a title and earn an income?
Yes, there is precedent for this structure and applies to other current members of the Royal Family who support the monarch and also have full time jobs external to their commitment to the monarchy.
Do The Duke and Duchess of Sussex earn income?
No, under the current structure and financing arrangements, they are prohibited from earning any income in any form.
By becoming financially independent, will The Duke and Duchess of Sussex be cutting ties with the monarchy?
As working members of the Royal Family, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain dedicated to maximising Her Majesty’s legacy both in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth. They will continue to proudly do so by supporting their patronages and carrying out works for The Monarchy within the UK or abroad, as called upon.
Have The Duke and Duchess of Sussex benefited from public funding and tax benefits as members of the Royal Family?
Five percent of the funding for their official office was provided through the Sovereign Grant starting in 2019 (more details on Sovereign Grant below). Public funding has never been used, nor would it ever be used for private expenditure by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who also do not receive any tax privileges.
Given their transition into members of the Royal Family with financial independence, will The Duke and Duchess of Sussex maintain their residence at Frogmore Cottage?
Frogmore Cottage will continue to be the property of Her Majesty the Queen. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to use Frogmore Cottage – with the permission of Her Majesty The Queen – as their official residence as they continue to support the Monarchy, and so that their family will always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom.
It's been reported that the decision was made WITHOUT consulting any other members of the royal family, and a statement from Buckingham Palace seems to confirm this.
"Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage," they said. "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
Harry and Meghan's decision to leave shouldn't come as a surprise. They have been distancing themselves from the royal family for months now, and Meghan has noted that she's "not okay." ITV's Tom Bradby interviewed the Duchess of Sussex as part of the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, and she gave an honest answer about her experience as a royal.
“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 a lot,” she said. “So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed. It’s um…yeah. I guess, thank you for asking because not a lot of people have asked if I’m okay, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
Bradby asks if it “would be fair” to say that she’s “not really okay, as in it’s really been a struggle?” to which Meghan responds, “Yes.”
In the end, Harry and Meghan need to do what is best for them and Archie. Especially with all the negative press they've been getting, it makes sense that they want to take a step back.