Recently, it seems like the news has been hugely focused on the controversial decision of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, after Harry and Meghan announced their intentions to step back from Royal duties, become financially independent, and divide their time between the UK, and North America. But what does their decision actually mean, and why is there such a stir about it? In this month’s news roundup, we’ll be taking a look at the young couple’s relationship and reviewing everything we know so far.
The beginning – Harry and Meghan meet
Back in 2016, it was reported that the somewhat rebellious young prince Harry met American actress Meghan Markle on a blind date. Despite seeming to the world a perfectly eligible young couple, their relationship was subject to a torrent of scepticism from the media, subjecting Meghan to what Harry himself called ‘a wave of abuse and harassment’. The media seized upon not only the fact that Meghan was a divorcee, and an actress (which was, in many people’s minds, an unsuitable profession for someone who might marry into the Royal Family) but even sank to attack her ethnicity, as she is the first mixed-race woman to marry into the Royal Family. This put huge pressures on the young couple, with many saying they wouldn’t last.
Despite this, the couple announced their engagement the next year. They wed in May 2018; an event which was watched by an estimated 1.9 billion people – and it was at this point it became truly clear that the young couple were not like the traditional Royals we had seen previously. The wedding had all the traditions, but with an added twist – the service consisted of a gospel choir, and eccentric but wonderful sermon from Bishop Curry, making it a modern and diverse wedding to remember.
The couple have continued to face huge pressure since their wedding, with Meghan even suing the Mail on Sunday over a claim it unlawfully published a private letter, showing that things certainly don’t seem to have gotten any easier for the young couple.
Not an ordinary royal couple – times they broke tradition
Given they have been under such scrutiny since the start of their relationship, it comes as no surprise that there are several times they have been caught ‘breaking tradition’.
Aside from the initial controversy surrounding their relationship in the first place, examples include seemingly minor things such as Meghan closing her own car door, and Harry opting to initially announce the birth of their son in an informal manner, rather than presenting him to the media immediately. Then of course, there are bigger matters of the way they conduct themselves in public – it’s no secret they are more affectionate than many royals we see, more relaxed with the general public and more vocal about things they believe in.
Now, of course, they have announced their intentions to become financially independent; an unprecedented move and huge shock to the UK public, and to Buckingham Palace.
Why have Harry and Meghan made this decision and what happens now?
What with all the controversy, it begs the question as to why Harry and Meghan have made the decision. Surely it’s more hassle than just keeping their titles? Of course, nobody could blame them for wanting to duck out of the spotlight given everything the pair have been through, particularly now they’re going to raise their young son Archie.
In their statement, they announced they would be stepping back as senior members and working to become financially independent whilst continuing to support the Queen, but whilst splitting their time evenly between their two home countries. Essentially, sources report that the pair were unhappy with their lives in the media spotlight, and wanted to focus on their new charity launch, and leading more independent lives, paving their own path to their future.
Now, Harry and Meghan will no longer use the titles ‘His and Her Royal Highness’ and will be requested to repay 2.4 million pounds in taxpayers’ money spent renovating their house near Windsor Castle. On top of this, they will no longer receive public funds for their work. In return, they will be allowed to step aside as working royals, and live a more independent lifestyle; a change that is heralded by their arrival in Canada ahead of a new chapter.
What do people think of the couple’s decision?
It has been reported that it is ‘very clear’ that Buckingham Palace are not happy about the decision, with sources suggesting that no royals were consulted before the decision was made. Despite this, the Queen has released a statement saying that they have found a ‘constructive and supportive way forward’ and that the Duke, Duchess and their son would remain ‘much loved members’ of her family.
Other prominent figures have some opinions on Harry and Meghan’s decisions too. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he was confident the Royal Family would find a way forward for Harry and Meghan, and added that he thinks ‘the whole country will want to join in wishing them the very best.’
Conversely, Meghan’s father Thomas Markle has accused them of ‘destroying’ and ‘cheapening‘ the Royal Family, saying that his daughter was throwing away ‘every girl’s dream’.
A little closer to home, popular rapper Stormzy has lashed out at the media, claiming that they have no ‘credible’ reason for people to dislike Meghan Markle, stating that their constant criticism of the young Duchess is ‘rubbish’.