A combination of the Queen’s wisdom and the Prince’s bravery means the couple’s bid to thrive in a future of their own making - rather than survive a lifetime of duty and scrutiny - is now a reality
A round of applause of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle please, for bravely deciding to change their lives forever – and I hope, for the better.
Last week, the royals announced their decision ‘to carve out a progressive new role within this institution’, by ‘stepping back’ as ‘senior’ members of the royal family.
They were fully aware of the backlash this would cause, because breaking the mould of anything – let alone tradition – is never easy. You will be mocked, jeered at, but you have to stay true to yourself and the life you wish to lead. Just because the Queen chose to devote her life to the monarchy does not mean her grandson does.
The statement detailed how Harry and Meghan plan to balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America. ‘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,’ it read.
Some critics (*cough Piers Morgan*) saw this as a selfish move, made by Harry to please himself and disregard his family, heritage and responsibilities as a royal. But honestly, if this move makes two people genuinely happier, why would anyone object?
On Monday, Queen Elizabeth released a statement following a historic summit of senior royals at her estate in Sandringham. 90 minutes of talks were held with Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry. Meghan is believed to have joined by conference call from Canada, where she is currently staying with their son Archie and two dogs.
During it, her majesty revealed the family had ‘very constructive discussions’ on her grandson’s future, and conceded that she is entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.
She added, ‘We respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family’.
What is clear to me is how this family truce was guided by the wisdom of our long-serving female monarch. As she sacrificed her private life to serve her country, she understands Harry and Meghan’s desire for one. While she unapologetically (quite right too) admitted she ‘would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family’, the Queen has supported another woman struggling with the shackles of servitude – and selflessly released her.
Perhaps as the Queen was writing the statement, she reflected on how her sister, Princess Margaret, floundered as the ‘spare and not the heir‘, and how her son Prince Andrew seemingly struggled to find a purpose after leaving the armed services.
And so, she is rewriting the royal rulebook with Charles, William and Harry, so there is a new tolerable, flexible path to allow members of the royal family a freedom she never experienced. Yes, the blessing was reluctant (name a grandmother who wouldn’t want to watch her grandchild grow up near them). Still, it’s a blessing none the less, and shows that while some of the UK rages at ‘Megxit’, the Queen at 93 proves how modern and forward thinking she is.
Another takeaway from the Queen’s statement was her decision to not refer to Harry and Meghan as the duke and duchess, and only as the Sussexes and by their first names. I wonder if this means they have – or will – relinquish their royal titles as part of their new chapter. Interesting, Joe Little – Managing Editor of Majesty magazine – suggests Harry and Meghan may have been planning to step back from the royal family as early as last year, as they could have given Archie the title of Earl of Dumbarton, but instead simply named him Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
There are still so many questions to be answered by the Queen in the coming days: how much time will the couple spend in Canada? What royal duties will they still perform? Will Archie grow up with a Canadian accent?! Plus, how will they fund their new life? In Harry and Meghan’s statement, the couple outlined their intention to become, ‘financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen’. The means the couple will no longer receive a sovereign Grant from the Monarchy, and Harry and Meghan mentioned in the statement how they are aiming for ‘financial independence’.
This is a hugely commendable move. Declining the money challenges the entire system the royals have lived within for centuries, and it also gives Harry and Meghan the absolute right to be free from judgement about how they spend their time and what they spend it on, because we as the taxpayer are no longer funding their lifestyle.
The world reacted as if the news was a ‘bombshell’, but really, it’s not surprising. The couple has struggled with the spotlight since their 2018 wedding, and in October 2019, after months of scrutiny by the British tabloid press, Prince Harry said via a statement that the couple had taken the decision to sue multiple publications. The Duke of Sussex said, ‘My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I lost my mother, and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.’
However, their decision to not consult the Queen before releasing their statement was rude, disrespectful and unnecessary – and it’s clear the Queen was as stunned by the news as we were: ‘these are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done,’ her statement commented.
In last year’s documentary, ‘Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,’ Meghan said of enduring unwanted scrutiny: ‘That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive, you’ve got to feel happy.’ Thanks to the Queen, I believe they now can be.