When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced last fall that they intended to take an “extended break” from their royal duties after the holiday, no one had any idea how extended that break might turn out to be. A recent announcement from the royal couple is perhaps the most shocking news since Harry’s great grandfather Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson: Prince Harry and his bride will “step back as senior members of the royal family” (via People).
While it’s no secret that Meghan Markle (herself a divorcée, and a Yank) has struggled to join the sometimes oppressive British royal family, no one expected such a big step.
What might have led Harry and Megan Markle to distance themselves
The gap between the princes – perhaps most strikingly, the tension between Princes William and Harry – began even before Harry’s engagement, when his big brother warned him not to get involved with Meghan so quickly. While their son Archie, now 8 months old, was welcomed with all the pomp and circumstance of the royal family, Meghan later told ITV reporter Tom Bradby that giving birth under the spotlight of royal-watchers everywhere “was really a challenge,” especially when “add[ed] on top of just trying to be a new mother or trying to be a newlyweds”.
In light of her stress and excitement after giving birth, Meghan, along with Harry, decided to spend Archie’s first Christmas away from the noise of Sandringham Palace. Instead, the trio opted for “private family time” in a mansion on Vancouver Island, Canada. While Meghan described the vacation as “beautiful… such an incredible time,” the fact remains that this getaway was probably caused by the growing gulf between Harry and his brother, reported, as Harry told a TV interviewer last fall, “in different ways,” and the fact is that this getaway was not the only one.
What will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle be doing now?
The statement released on the Sussex Royal Instagram account spoke of Harry and Meghan’s desire to “establish financial independence”, as well as their intention to establish a new charity. Although the Instagram post did not provide any further details about this venture, City and Country reported last week that they have been planning foundation, called Sussex Royal, in operation since last year. The focus, according to Meghan, will be on “really strong, community-based projects,” although not yet specified in the nature.
Perhaps the biggest break with tradition will come with the plans of the wannabe-lightless-royal couple to base their family, at least part of the time, away from Shakespeare’s sceptered isle. While they haven’t provided specific details about where, except for “North America,” The New York Times speculates that they will either return to Canada or perhaps live in Meghan’s hometown of Los Angeles. “This geographical balance will allow us to raise our son with an appreciation of the royal tradition in which he was born,” says the statement.
Wherever their next destination may be, we wish the duke and duchess (and their little baby duchess? Ducky?) all the happiness in their lives outside the royal fishbowl.