“Megxit,” but less confusing

God save the queen… but also the poutine.



FILE – In this Jan. 7, 2020, file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave after visiting Canada House in London, after their recent stay in Canada. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to no longer use their HRH titles and will repay £2.4 million of taxpayer’s money spent on renovating their Berkshire home, Buckingham Palace announced Saturday, Jan. 18. 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

In light of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family,” here’s some more information on how the British monarchy will be affected going forward.

Were Meghan and Harry kicked out of the royal family?

No. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced in a statement on January 8th that “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. 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.” 

(“Patronage” refers to serving as the figurehead of a charity or organization. When Prince Harry speaks to the public at the Invictus Games, a competition for injured veterans that he founded, he is fulfilling his role as its patron.)

In short, Meghan and Harry will continue with as much of their charitable work as possible without being bound by the plethora of rules, regulations, and media coverage that come with being working members of the royal family. 

After a meeting with the queen labeled the “Sandringham Summit” on January 13th, the queen released the following statement:

“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life. I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family. It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”

What is changing?

According to Buckingham Palace, the Sussexes will, beginning in the spring of 2020:

  • “understand that they are required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for royal duties”
  • “continue to maintain their private patronages and associations”
  • “not use their HRH titles [his/her Royal Highness] as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family”
  • “have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure [about $3.1 million USD] for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home”

Read the full statement here.

(By way of background, the Sovereign Grant — money from publicly owned properties — funds about 5% of Meghan and Harry’s expenses. The remaining 95% is paid for by the Duchy of Cornwall, a collective of land investments owned by Harry’s father, Prince Charles.)

Where will they live?

Harry, Meghan, and Archie will split their time between the UK and Canada probably Vancouver, where the family is currently staying.

Why did Meghan and Harry make this decision?

1. British tabloids such as the Daily Mail and The Sun have long been accused of falsehoods and racism in its coverage of Meghan. For example, an article about Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, eating an avocado was headlined “Kate’s morning sickness cure? Prince William gifted with an avocado for pregnant duchess,” while a similar article about Meghan from the same news organization was headlined, “Meghan Markle’s beloved avocado linked to human rights abuse and drought, millennial shame.” Said Meghan, “I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair.”

2. Princess Diana, Harry’s mother, was killed in a car crash that was partially caused by an attempt to avoid the paparazzi. Before this, Diana had accused several tabaloids of unfairly exploiting her divorce and mental health difficulties. Recently, Harry commented, “for me, and for my wife, of course, there is a lot of stuff that hurts, of course when a majority of it is untrue… I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”

3. Both Meghan and Harry’s independence and quality of life have shifted dramatically since their marriage. In addition to being an actress best known for the popular legal drama Suits, Meghan was a UN Women’s Advocate, an ambassador for Canada’s World Vision Clean Water campaign, and a lifestyle blogger — all of which she was forced to give up upon her entrance to the royal family. Moreover, Harry, who lauded the sense of normalcy and belonging he experienced while serving in the military, was once removed from a deployment in the Middle East after his location and royal status were leaked. “It’s not enough to just survive something, right? That’s not the point of life,” said Meghan. “You’ve gotta thrive, you’ve got to be happy, and I think I really tried to adopt the British sensibility of the stiff upper lip. I tried! I really tried, but I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging,” she finished.

A few lingering questions…

Opponents of “Megxit” are concerned about the effect it will have on the future of the British monarchy and remain critical of Meghan and Harry, accusing them of being ungrateful by relinquishing their royal duties and traditions. It has not yet been decided who will pay for the Sussexes’ security detail. And additionally, their intention to become financially independent raises questions about potential conflicts of interest — would it be unethical for them to profit from their family ties and ‘royal brand’ in the private sector?

In Harry’s words

Click here to watch or read Prince Harry’s January 19th speech, which he delivered at an event for Sentebale (a charity that raises money for children in Africa with HIV/AIDS).