Oprah Winfrey spent two days interviewing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle before their parting shot at Buckingham Palace – and ‘gained a unique insight into the rift’, it was claimed last night.
The prime-time discussion, which controversially ‘blindsided’ the Queen after her grandson chose not to inform her of the sit-down ‘tell all’, will make ‘pure gold’ when it airs next month, aides told the Sun.
The chat show host prepared for the interview at her home in Hawaii before flying into California, where she also owns a second property a short drive from the couple, on her £50million private jet.
Oprah, who attended the Sussexes’ wedding and has been a firm supporter of their decision to leave Britain, was with the couple just hours before they released their statement, having filmed the discussion on Wednesday and Thursday.
The presenter only left Santa Barbara, where she travelled to with an entourage of assistants and her rescue cocker spaniel Sadie, later on Friday, as the fallout from Megxit went into overdrive.
Sources told the Sun how the friends looked relaxed, and not as if they were caught in the middle of a major royal drama.
In stark contrast to the glamorous meeting, Harry’s grandfather, Prince Philip, remains in hospital, and was visited by a teary-eyed Prince Charles yesterday, with the 99-year-old expected to continue to be monitored and encouraged to rest into next week.
The interview with Oprah is due to be aired on Sunday March 7, and a person close to the Sussexes told the Sunday Times last night that Meghan believes the prime-time broadcast gives her the ‘loudest way she’ll get her voice back’.
Another source told the Sun: ‘The pair are clearly very close to Oprah and the fact she’s been with them at such an intense time has given her a unique insight into the rift with the royals.
‘The drama of last week means that Oprah’s tell-all show will be pure gold. It’s time to hide behind the sofa for the other royals.’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s controversial interview with Oprah Winfey was filmed just hours before the couple issued a parting shot after being stripped of roles and patronages by the Queen – with the Duchess claiming the prime time television tell-all is the ‘loudest way she’ll get her voice back’
‘Oprah is skilled at getting people to talk about their feelings and bound to take them down a path they’ll almost certainly regret,’ a source said
The chat show legend took her £50 milllion Gulfstream jet to Santa Barbara – where she owns a second home a short drive from the pair
The Royals are braced for the couple to hit back at the Palace in the interview that was filmed just before The Queen removed Harry and Meghan’s royal patronages because a ‘life of public service’ is not compatible with the couple’s lucrative new career in America.
That sparked a barbed response from the Sussexes stating ‘service is universal’, which Royal sources called ‘horribly disrespectful’ and ”you can’t line your pockets while undertaking official duties’.
Speaking about the Oprah interview which was filmed in California, the source close the couple told the Times: ‘Having an institutional voice within the royal family wasn’t enough [for Meghan]. This interview will be the loudest way she’ll get her voice back.’
‘When they first started dating Meghan felt she had lost her voice. She had had a platform as a moderately successful actress, and when she was told to stop using her social media and be careful what she said, I could tell that loss of voice and independence pained her.’
The Royals will be braced for the couple to air their grievances as Prince Philip, 99, is treated in hospital.
An emotional Prince of Wales arrived at King Edward VII’s hospital in London to visit his father this afternoon, who has been treated by doctors since Tuesday. He is expected to remain in hospital until next week.
It comes after it was revealed that a ‘battle royale’ over their royal titles raged behind the scenes, with the Queen telling the couple their commercial careers were completely incompatible with the impartiality required of those in public service.
According to one official, she made it ‘abundantly clear’ to her grandson that when it comes to being a working royal you are either in, or you are out, telling him: ‘You work for the monarchy, the monarchy doesn’t work for you.’
With negotiations already tense, the revelation of the Oprah interview sent matters into free fall and was deemed to be the final straw.
Officials were angered that Harry and Meghan had kept this secret from the Palace, hoping to announce their interview bombshell once the ‘divorce deal’ was done.
The interview promises to deliver the most explosive revelations about the royals since Princess Diana lifted the lid in 1995, with the pair set to reveal exactly why they decided to turn their backs on the family and the UK more widely.
TV companies are already locked in an international bidding war for the rights to the programme, which will see Meghan talk about marriage and motherhood, having recently announced her second pregnancy, as well as her handling of life under the most intense of spotlights.
She is highlighted as the star of the show, with CBS, the American network broadcasting the special in the States, billing Harry as something of a support act.
It will be ‘time to hide behind the sofa at the palace,’ a royal source said.
Last year, The Duke of York was forced to step back from public life following his car-crash Newsnight interview in 2019 about his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, while Diana, Harry’s mother, told friends she ‘deeply regretted’ her appearance on Panorama, in which she admitted adultery and spoke frankly of her relationship with Charles.
‘Oprah is skilled at getting people to talk about their feelings and bound to take them down a path they’ll almost certainly regret,’ the source added.
‘There will be an element of reliving Megxit and airing their grievances. No one benefits from that, but Oprah will get it out of them whether they like it or not.’
A YouGov poll found nearly half of Britons think the interview is inappropriate. A further 29 per cent were in favour, while 25 per cent said they didn’t know.
It comes after Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that they had been stripped of their remaining roles following their move to California .
Pointedly, it said they could not continue with ‘the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.
As relations hit a bitter new low, an insider said: ‘They have made a roaring success of what they set out to do in the US, this independent life. And good luck to them. But you can’t have your cake and eat it.
The two blistering statements: Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement that Harry and Meghan had been stripped of their remaining roles following their move to California. Minutes later, the apparently furious Sussexes issued a stinging rebuke to the Queen, insisting they would still ‘live a life of service’ outside the royal fold
‘If your primary role is to serve the head of state and the monarchy, then it’s very hard to do that if you are earning millions on the side. That’s philanthropy, not public service. The couple are working with some deserving charities and causes, which is great.
‘It’s just that the model of how they are doing it is different from how the Royal Family do it.’
The source stressed that the split from the Royal Family had been Harry and Meghan’s decision entirely. ‘They have chosen to live in America, they have not been exiled to America,’ they said.
Another insider said: ‘Let’s be clear, the Sussexes instigated this. They jumped. But the Queen is firm: either you are a public servant or you aren’t.
‘You can’t line your pockets while undertaking official duties.’
Although Palace officials were at pains to stress how ‘saddened’ the monarch and senior royals were by the split – insisting that Harry and Meghan were still ‘much loved’ members of the family – the rift between the two sides is now wider than ever.
Relations are so acrimonious that despite weeks of discussions, they couldn’t even agree a joint statement on the issue. ‘It’s actually all very sad,’ a source said.
Another insider said: ‘The direction of travel has been clear for a while. The Queen has been very clear from the start that this ‘half in, half out’ model demanded by the Sussexes wouldn’t work and hasn’t deviated from that. Not once. Their original idea was to have a ‘third way’ of being a royal. And the Queen has said quite simply ‘no, you can’t’.’
The Mail has been told that it was Harry who pushed to restart talks over his and Meghan’s position early this year.
Pictured: The statement from Buckingham Palace that The Sussexes had been stripped of their remaining roles
Minutes later, the apparently furious Sussexes issued a stinging rebuke to the Queen, insisting they would still ‘live a life of service’ outside the royal fold. They added: ‘Service is universal.’
According to insiders, there was a ‘puzzling sense of urgency’ to his requests that perplexed palace officials. When news of Meghan’s deal for a ‘tell all’ interview with Oprah Winfrey broke earlier this week ‘all became clear’.
This was seen as ‘shocking’ by the royal household, which had hoped to make an amicable joint announcement about the couple’s future earlier this week.
The Daily Mail revealed exclusively earlier this week that the couple were set to lose their remaining royal patronages.
They will now be forced to relinquish a series of high profile roles connected to causes close to their hearts and, most devastatingly for Harry, his three honorary military positions. The pair have also had to relinquish their roles with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, although they are set to retain their official titles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Buckingham Palace (left) and Harry and Meghan (right)
Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, first announced their desire to quit as working royals in January last year without even informing the Queen beforehand, a move which deeply hurt the 94-year-old monarch.
The ensuing ‘Sandringham Summit’ saw the Queen, backed by the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge, stand firm against her grandson and his wife, who were demanding they be allowed to move to North America in pursuit of their fortunes while continuing to serve her as ‘quasi-working royals’.
In the end the couple were forced to agree not to use their royal titles for commercial gain. However the Queen did agree to hold over some of their official patronages – most notably Harry’s military positions – while a 12-month review of their new arrangements was concluded.
It can now be revealed that over the past year a ‘battle royale’ over these official roles has raged behind the scenes, with neither side willing to concede.
Harry and Meghan have categorically refused to accept their loss of standing and insisted they wanted to continue with limited royal duties while landing contacts with firms such as Spotify and Netflix.
The Queen, however, has told the couple that their commercial careers were completely incompatible with the impartiality required of those in public service.
According to one official, she made it ‘abundantly clear’ to her grandson that when it comes to being a working royal you are either in, or you are out, telling him: ‘You work for the monarchy, the monarchy doesn’t work for you.’
With negotiations already tense, the revelation of the Oprah interview sent matters into free fall.
Harry and Meghan had kept this secret from the Palace, hoping to announce their interview bombshell once the ‘divorce deal’ was done. This angered officials, who had hoped to make a final announcement on the so-called ‘Megxit deal’ at the beginning of the week.
The couple, who announced on Sunday they were expecting their second child, were said to have ‘hit the roof’ when they saw the Palace’s draft statement, which said that in stepping away as full-time working royals they could not be of ‘public service’.
All lines of communication subsequently broke down.
With a deep but unyielding sadness, the Queen had no choice but to formally write to her grandson confirming that ‘Megxit’ was final.
In its statement yesterday, Buckingham Palace said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty the Queen that they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family.
‘Following conversations with the duke, the Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.
‘The honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by the Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of the Royal Family.’
The Duke of Sussex called The Queen at Windsor Castle from his home in California but the hour-long conversion took Harry one step further outside the Royal Family. Pictured: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and his grandmother in 2018
They added: ‘While all are saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.’
Four minutes later a spokesman for the Sussexes retorted: ‘As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role.
‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
Harry and Meghan will still be invited to family events such as Trooping the Colour and the prince is expected to join his brother, Prince William, to unveil a statue in memory of their late mother Princess Diana at Kensington Palace on July 1.
But no one was pretending last night that relations are likely to be anything other than uncomfortable in future.
‘There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Harry and Meghan have chosen to do, but they cannot do it as royals and as public servants,’ said one insider.
‘The only hope is that perhaps now that the business side of things have been removed, they can start to repair their personal relationships.’
The Queen pushed to breaking point: Her Majesty has showered Harry with affection and indulgence in a bid for harmony. Yesterday, that was thrown back in her face with outrageous peevishness. And, writes RICHARD KAY, the worst may yet lie ahead
- Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, called The Queen at Windsor Castle from his hideaway in faraway California
- The hour-long conversion took him one step further outside the Royal Family, and to a sad conclusion
- Queen said to be saddened that her ‘affection and indulgence’ shown to him has been ignored by Harry
Evening shadows were falling across the Long Walk at Windsor Castle when the call came through.
From her desk at the window of her private sitting room, the Queen could look up the broad avenue towards Frogmore where, less than two years ago, she had chuckled at the stream of lorries bringing the paraphernalia of Prince Harry’s life to his new home in her back garden.
Now Harry was calling from his hideaway in faraway California. For an hour, the monarch and her grandson talked on the phone, and by the time it was over the Duke of Sussex was one step further outside the Royal Family.
Over the past year, Harry has had more private conversations with the Queen than at any other time in his life. But none was more difficult than the one this week.
Both were said to be saddened at its conclusion. For the Queen the sadness was, perhaps, even deeper. It was not just that so much promise was unfulfilled, but that all the affection and indulgence shown to Harry had been so spectacularly ignored — or even thrown back in her face.
No wonder the talk inside Windsor Castle all week has been about winding the clock back 25 years.
RICHARD KAY: ‘By choosing to sit down with Oprah Winfrey, Harry and Meghan have detonated a bombshell of their own by placing themselves in the hands of probably the most famous broadcaster on the planet’ (Queen pictured looking on as Meghan joins Royal Family)
Prince Philip, 99, will stay in hospital into NEXT WEEK but ‘remains in good spirits’
He today had his fourth day in the private facility in London, but is understood to have been aware the announcement on Harry and Meghan was to be released.
The Duke of Edinburgh is having ‘observation and rest’ after being admitted earlier this week after feeling unwell.
Philip, 99, was described as being in ‘good spirits’ after he walked unaided into King Edward VII Hospital on Tuesday evening on the advice of his doctor.
A Royal source said: ‘Following consultation with his doctor he is likely to remain in hospital for observation and rest over the weekend and into next week. As we have said previously the doctor is acting with an abundance of caution. The Duke remains in good spirits.’
The Queen had told him of Meghan and Harry’s decision to not return as working members of the Royal Family and the statement she was going to release on the development.
The Duke of Edinburgh (left) and the Duke of Sussex (right) laugh together following the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston at Windsor Castle in May 2019
Police stand outside King Edward VII Hospital in London this morning as a nurse walks past
Philip and Harry had always shared a close bond but a recent book suggested he had been left bewildered by his decision to walk away from the Royal Family.
Ingrid Seward, author of Prince Philip Revealed, said the Duke of Edinburgh ‘walked away’ from the situation after feeling that his advice was being ignored.
Seward’s book said: ‘For Philip, whose entire existence has been based on a devotion to doing his duty, it appeared that his grandson had abdicated his for the sake of his marriage to an American divorcee in much the same way as Edward VIII gave up his crown to marry Wallis Simpson in 1936.’
It had been claimed today Harry was self-isolating at home in Montecito, California, so he can fly back to Britain at short notice if Philip’s condition worsens, but the Palace’s announcement appears to have thrown this into some doubt.
Harry, who lives in a £11million mansion with his pregnant wife Meghan and son Archie, was also said to have arranged to fly by private jet at short notice if needed.
He would be tested for coronavirus before leaving the US and upon arriving in Britain – and it is not clear if Meghan would travel, reported the Daily Mirror.
The Duke of Edinburgh remained at King Edward VII Hospital this morning (pictured today)
Police stand on the steps of King Edward VII Hospital today where Philip is being treated
Harry would also be exempt from having to quarantine in a hotel for ten days after arriving, if the UK adds the US to its ‘red list’ of countries as is being discussed.
Members of the Royal Family do not have to isolate in a hotel upon arriving from ‘red list’ countries because due to special dispensation, similar to diplomatic immunity.
A spokesman for Harry was contacted for comment by MailOnline. On Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said admitting Philip to hospital was a ‘precautionary measure’.
There were no reports yesterday of visitors arriving at the exclusive hospital which is on a quiet street in Marylebone, but Philip is known for his ‘no fuss’ attitude.
Philip, who turns 100 on June 10, is in hospital for an undisclosed reason, although it is not coronavirus-related and it was a non-emergency admission..
It is understood a doctor was called after Philip felt unwell for a short period and he was taken to hospital by car, where he walked in unaided.
Philip has been spending the latest lockdown with the Queen, 94, at Windsor Castle and last month they both received Covid vaccinations.
Prince Harry and Meghan at their £11million home in Montecito, California, last September
The Queen and Prince Philip look at a wedding anniversary card given to them by their great grandchildren George, Charlotte and Louis, in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle last November
Philip was reported last year to be unconcerned about becoming a centenarian.
But sources say his view has modified and he is rather reluctantly looking forward to reaching the milestone.
As the nation hoped for his swift recovery, royal author Penny Junor joked yesterday that hospital staff probably would not want Philip on their shift due to his aversion to people making a fuss.
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘He can be quite blunt and I think if he felt people were fussing over him he could be quite outspoken about that.
‘This is a man who doesn’t want any fuss made of his 100th birthday, so the fact he’s in hospital and getting some fuss made of him will really irritate him.’
Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday: ‘His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Tuesday evening.
‘The Duke’s admission is a precautionary measure, on the advice of His Royal Highness’s doctor, after feeling unwell. The Duke is expected to remain in hospital for a few days of observation and rest.’
It is understood the decision to admit Philip was taken with an ‘abundance’ of caution.
Philip was last in hospital in December 2019, when he spent four nights at King Edward VII being treated for a ‘pre-existing condition’ before being discharged on Christmas Eve.
He retired from public duties in 2017 but made a rare public appearance at Windsor last July 2020 for the official handover of his role as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to his daughter-in-law Camilla.
Then, the drama was about Princess Diana. This time it was about her younger son. And in both cases it concerned a television programme.
Diana’s choice of medium was the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Panorama, which was epic enough.
By choosing to sit down with Oprah Winfrey, Harry and Meghan have detonated a bombshell of their own by placing themselves in the hands of probably the most famous broadcaster on the planet.
To the royals and their advisers, TV confessionals of the kind presided over by Ms Winfrey are not compatible with royal life and the privileges that go with it.
Yet that was not the worst of it. The peevish disrespect Harry and Meghan showed the Queen yesterday — in a statement in which they appeared to lecture on the meaning of duty and service — sent shock waves throughout the Palace and beyond.
‘Outrageous,’ said one source.
To another, it was ‘unconscionable’ of the couple to have had the last word. ‘It showed such disrespect,’ he said.
Adding to this sense of anger and exasperation is Prince Philip’s absence as he remains in hospital in London.
For almost a year there had been a gloomy sense of inevitability inside Buckingham Palace about the future of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, whom courtiers have increasingly come to see as tone deaf in their public utterances.
First, there was the Netflix mega-deal announced last September, followed by those stage-managed photographs of the couple laying flowers at a Los Angeles cemetery to mark Remembrance Sunday — after Harry’s request to have a wreath laid at the Cenotaph on his behalf was refused. Both sent shudders through the Royal Household.
‘Even after almost a year’s absence there was a sense they had not grasped the central issue that they could not be part-time royals, with one foot in and one foot out,’ says a long-time Palace adviser.
Even so, the Queen was determined her offer of a year ago — that the door should not be closed to the couple until there had been a review of the first 12 months — should stand.
The Sussex view was that they could still contribute in a meaningful way, despite moving their lives to southern California.
But if the door remained ajar — just — it clanged shut when news of Oprah broke.
Weeks before Harry made that call to his grandmother to tell her about the forthcoming interview, the Queen’s views about what it means to be a working royal had not changed. The costumes and privileges that go with it — such as laying a Cenotaph wreath, even remotely — can be available only to those who do the job on a full-time basis.
She fervently hoped that the pull of those patronages he held, particularly the military ones, such as his figurehead role as Captain General of the Royal Marines, would be a compellingly strong draw for Harry to reconsider.
In the end, he still thought he could have it both ways. Yesterday, the decisiveness of the Palace showed, finally, that he cannot.
Stripping him — and Meghan — of their remaining honorary patronages would have happened anyway when the so-called ‘Megxit’ deadline expired next month.
If moving it forward suggests a royal ruthlessness, I understand it was a decision reached more in sorrow than anger. It also showed that the Queen’s legendary patience has a breaking point. And that her sense of duty is more important even than her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In short, she loves to keep them all close as a family — but there is a limit.
All the same, the speed with which organisations such as the National Theatre (of which the duchess was royal patron) and the Rugby Football Union (for which Harry had been a tireless champion) issued statements yesterday demonstrated that they had been prepared for the changes. Pointedly, the Palace statement referred only to Harry — indicating perhaps that the duchess had no formal role in the talks that have been ongoing. No wonder, when many inside royal circles refer icily to Meghan as ‘The American’.
When news of the Oprah interview emerged, it meant negotiations between the two sides, involving officials as well as the royals, had to be completed in a more tense atmosphere than they’d anticipated.
Even so, there was still room for discord.
The haste of Harry and Meghan’s own statement — issued at 4.30am Los Angeles time yesterday, in response to the one that had been released on behalf of the Queen — illustrated an astonishing lack of awareness by someone who is sixth in line to the throne and steeped in the royal tradition of service.
What had seemingly infuriated the Sussexes the most was this line in the middle of the pre-prepared Palace statement: ‘In stepping away from the work of the Royal Family, it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.’
Unspoken in all of this, and perhaps the hidden message behind the words, was that the exemplary life of public service that the Queen and the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh have led.
Over at Sussex headquarters, however, they hit the roof.
Harry and Meghan believe they are committed to public service, but they simply want to do it from outside the Royal Family and from outside Britain.
And given Harry’s closeness to his grandmother, he will have been angered at the way he felt he was being treated by the Queen’s most senior aides.
That is what triggered the couple’s extraordinary sharp response: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
Whatever pretence there had been until this point — that both sides were happy with the outcome — went up in a puff of smoke.
Last night aides spoke of their shock at the tone of the couple’s response, viewing it as a rebuke to the Queen, even an insult.
‘They didn’t think to let the Queen have the last word,’ says one insider. ‘They didn’t think that with Prince Philip in hospital, she might have enough on her plate.
‘And they didn’t think that there is a difference between charity and philanthropy and commitment to public duty. There is a world of difference: one is playing at it and one is doing it day after day, come rain or shine.
‘By responding as they did, the duke and duchess are thumbing their noses. I think it could turn out to be a strategic mistake.’
Palace aides had concluded that a non-working royal living in California couldn’t give the level of commitment to the military, the Commonwealth and charitable organisations, which all mean so much to the Queen, that might reasonably be expected.
The patronages will be ‘redistributed’ among those members of the Queen’s family who remain full-time working royals.
Buckingham Palace did try to hold out an olive branch at the end of their statement by saying that Harry and Meghan remained ‘much loved members of the family’. It echoed the statement they made in January 2020 when Harry and Meghan first announced they wanted out. But that is not how they see it in California.
The Sussexes believe other members of the Royal Family with HRH titles have the freedom to earn a private income — a thinly veiled reference to Harry’s first cousins, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Anxious not to alienate the couple further, aides are at pains to insist there is little prospect of further attempts to downgrade them by removing their HRH style or even the Sussex title, as some commentators have suggested.
The removal of Princess Diana’s HRH after her divorce from Prince Charles rebounded on the royals with the public, who viewed it as an act of spite.
There is also the fact that however dismayed they are by Harry, he remains a uniquely important figure to the future of the monarchy.
In the event of Charles and William both losing their lives — and, remember, they have both contracted Covid-19 — Harry would become regent to a young Prince George.
Throughout the saga, Palace officials have been playing close attention to public reaction.
A recent poll about royal popularity, still on the YouGov site, has been monitored. It shows Meghan languishing below both the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex, while Harry was outpolled by both Prince Charles and his non-royal cousin Zara Tindall.
There will be more twists and turns to come in this unedifying domestic drama.
The date of March 7, when Harry and Meghan genuflect before TV queen Oprah, is likely to be engraved in the royal memory just like Diana’s Panorama appearance on November 20, 1995.
The very real concern is that it will reopen other wounds, such as the rift between Harry and his brother — and between their wives. There is the fear of a repeat of the froideur that once existed between two other royal sisters-in-law — the Queen Mother and the Duchess of Windsor.
By striking as she has, the Queen hopes she will mitigate the need for further action. Only time will tell if that has been successful.
Devoted to self service: JAN MOIR says farewell to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as they are stripped of royal roles and patronages
Oh no, not the patronages! Anything but the patronages. Please, Your Majesty, don’t take the patronages away from us, we are begging you.
The patronages and honorary military appointments which were the gift of the Queen have now been removed from their grasp, winkled out like pearls popped from a shell, now to be redistributed amongst other, more dutiful, members of The Firm.
Sitting barefoot under the Baby Tree in the charming grounds of their Californian mansion, what will Harry and Meghan care about this latest development?
Not much, perhaps. Surely that grab bag of dreary duties only served to remind them of how they despised their status as lower rank royals stuck on the second tier of the House of Windsor cake stand; the Sussex plain scones doomed to languish forever beneath the Cambridges’ crème de la crème eclairs.
Sitting barefoot under the Baby Tree in the charming grounds of their Californian mansion, what will Harry and Meghan care about this latest development?
As it was their decision to step away from the work of the Royal Family, it is now not possible for Harry and Meghan to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with their life of public service,,, With one stroke of a queenly pen, their royal ambitions have been sunk for good
By comparison, in the grand life they are carving out for themselves in the gullible gulches and dreamy canyons of California, it is they who are the headline attraction, the stars of the show, master and mistress of their own, carefully-calibrated universe.
Out there, amid the razzmatazz of the Oprah interviews and the Disney documentaries, surely there is little room for the fuddy-dud military, Commonwealth and charitable associations of their old life?
To New World ears, even the names sound like something worthy of mockery from a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta; the Royal Marines, RAF Honington, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, The Rugby Football Union, The Rugby Football League, The Association of Commonwealth Universities and The Royal National Theatre.
Where’s the stardust, where’s the global sex appeal of all that khaki and Commonwealth baloney when you could be filming amusing videos with James Corden or promoting a groovy feminist brand of coffee? Where indeed.
Yet there must be some part of Prince Harry’s blue-blooded heart that is deeply wounded by, for example, the loss of his Captain Generalcy of the Royal Marines.
Harry’s military life has always been the best of him; it defined him as a young man and gave him purpose and discipline at a time when he seemed lost and in danger of spiralling out of control.
‘Don’t cock it up,’ Prince Philip told Harry on the day he passed on the honorary command of the Marines back in 2017, after holding the title himself for 64 blameless years. They are surely words that now gnaw at Harry’s soul as his 99-year-old grandfather lies ill in a hospital thousands of miles away and the royal life that once bound them together through the twin strands of heritage and duty has turned to dust.
Yesterday’s statement from the Palace detailing the Queen’s thinking on the ongoing Sussex situation was unequivocal; as far as she is concerned the Duke and Duchess have left the life of public service and therefore their inevitable demise as official royals is now complete. The air has gone from their balloon of privilege, they are the jewels unceremoniously removed from the crown. And so it has been written.
As it was their decision to step away from the work of the Royal Family, it is now not possible for Harry and Meghan to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with their life of public service. On the choppy waters of the imperial sea they are unmoored, untethered, undone.
With one stroke of a queenly pen, their royal ambitions have been sunk for good.
One might have expected the couple to regretfully but respectfully acknowledge Her Majesty’s wishes — which after all are only following royal protocols — and perhaps publicly express a word or two of grateful thanks in her direction, particularly after all they have put her through.
But not a bit of it. ‘Not bovvered,’ seemed to be the sulky message emanating from the depths of the Sussexes’ West Coast bunker.
In an unmistakable ratcheting of hostilities between the two camps, a spokesman for the couple said: ‘As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role. We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
Surely they meant self-service? That is the only explanation that makes sense. If this statement wasn’t so downright rude, it would be laughable. Service to the UK and around the world? Who do they think they are, the Gandhi and Bambi of the Second Coming?
Over the past few months the couple have visited food banks in Los Angeles on a couple of occasions, while indulging in their favourite pastime of lecturing others on where they are going wrong in their lives and urging us all to be more perfect like…well, like them. It all hardly amounts to a hill of organic beans, let alone a lifetime of devoted service to the UK, to America or to anywhere else.
It is no secret that Harry and Meghan were once so desperate to flee the deprivations and imagined horrors of royal life they didn’t even have the decency to alert the Queen to their escape plans
Harry and Meghan mean well of course, but they would be wise to remember that sainthood and beatification by the masses is still a long way off — and that there are plenty of others out there who do an awful lot more for much less fanfare. Who don’t, in fact, feel it necessary to organise and orchestrate their own glamorous photo shoots in military cemeteries or elsewhere to draw attention to the pumping geyser of their righteous bleeding consciences.
What is disappointing here is not the dismissive tone or the rampancy of egos behind the Sussex statement, it is that Prince Harry has failed to protect his well-meaning 94-year-old grandmother from the withering disdain of the publicity chiefs on his payroll. That is completely unforgivable.
Even worse, perhaps the words actually do reflect a hardening attitude from the Prince and even a new contempt for the rules and regulations that once shaped his life.
One hopes not, but should it be true, it is a great pity. The Queen in particular, who has behaved with admirable restraint and kindness throughout the apocalypse of their leaving, demands a little more respect.
After all, she is the head of the family that gave Prince Harry absolutely everything, including his wealth, status and identity.
Despite much provocation, the fact that she has not removed their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles, the royal designations upon which their entire success in America depends, bears testament to her continued goodwill.
Over the past few months the couple have visited food banks in Los Angeles on a couple of occasions, while indulging in their favourite pastime of lecturing others on where they are going wrong in their lives and urging us all to be more perfect like…well, like them…
So where do Meghan and Harry go from here? Despite their brittle bravado in the face of this latest demotion, much of the Sussexes’ international appeal is contingent on public understanding that they remain enmeshed with, and indispensable to, the Royal Family.
Without that, who or what are they? Just another couple of Hollywood starlets seeking to impress with their charity portfolio, perhaps. In royal circles they remain much loved, but now have about as much official standing as a pair of corgis.
And why should anyone in the world beyond care about them or what they think?
It is no secret that Harry and Meghan were once so desperate to flee the deprivations and imagined horrors of royal life they didn’t even have the decency to alert the Queen to their escape plans.
Yet it remains fascinating that despite the growing disdain they now seem to harbour for the House of Windsor, they have never been quite appalled enough to consider giving up being a Duke and a Duchess.
If the Sussexes really wanted to carve out a progressive new role for themselves, surely the encumbrance of these ancient royal titles would have been the first thing to be ditched, in favour of the sunny, Californian, linked-not-ranked meritocracy that they claim to love and admire so much?
Instead, Harry and Meghan still want to enjoy the prestige that these ancient crowns of privilege bring to their celebrity status; their titles are key tools in their battle to capture hearts and minds with the whipped blancmange of their fashionable beliefs, which include climate change, mental health issues and unconscious racism.
As I say, I am sure they mean well. But it is entirely possible to understand their motivations, to agree with their causes, to appreciate their politics, but at the same time still feel that you’re being strangled by their double rainbow of smug conceit.
And this latest row with the Queen shows a worrying lack of humility in the face of adversity. ‘To do something of meaning, to do something that matters,’ was the Sussexes’ stated aim when they launched their not-for-profit Archewell Foundation last year.
The name, they told us, was a combination of ‘an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon’.
Until that point, the only deep resources Harry and Meghan had drawn upon were poor Prince Charles’s bank accounts.
All this, and the unstinting support of the Queen, seems to have been forgotten in this week’s rather abrupt and unworthy lack of grace towards the Royal Family who have given them both so much.
Yet so much of what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex do and say now seems to raise more questions than answers.
If they really want to lead lives of public service across the world, why didn’t they just quietly begin in America by doing good works and letting their philanthropic profile emerge naturally?
Instead of this endless blaze of publicity and self-congratulation?
And while we are here, why can’t the pair of them be a little kinder to their own respective families along the way?
Charity begins at home, after all.
ROBERT HARDMAN: As Harry and Meghan enter a royal wilderness like another couple so many years ago… Is the HRH next to go?
Yesterday’s P45 from Buckingham Palace may have made it very clear where the future of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex lies: outside the royal orbit. But, as ever when it comes to the Sussexes, with clarity come yet more questions
Yesterday’s P45 from Buckingham Palace may have made it very clear where the future of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex lies: outside the royal orbit.
But, as ever when it comes to the Sussexes, with clarity come yet more questions.
Will Harry ever wear those hard-earned military uniforms again? No (old soldiers do not wear uniform unless they have an honorary rank; he does not).
Where does he remain in the royal pecking order? In the same place he was last week — sixth-in-line. There are no constitutional loose ends.
And while some may point to similarities between Harry and his great-great uncle, the Duke of Windsor — who abandoned royal duties 85 years ago — these simply do not stack up.
But what are we now supposed to call the couple? Here things become rather more confused.
For you need only look at the plethora of global news reports yesterday to see that no one has the faintest idea. Harry/Meghan/Prince/Markle — take your pick.
The couple have let it be known that they do not wish to be called ‘HRH’, though they still retain that royal style (it is a style not a title).
Though they call themselves ‘Duke and Duchess of Sussex’, they seem happy enough to use ‘Harry’ and ‘Meghan’ in other communications.
Yesterday, their short statement informed us that they are committed to ‘duty and service’, adding, pointedly, ‘regardless of official role’. The subtext was clear enough: ‘We don’t need a royal title to continue doing what we’re doing.’
In which case, many will say, why on earth are they still clinging to their royal status at all? And why has the Queen not removed it?
It was the Queen who created her grandson Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel on his wedding day in 2018.
If she took the dukedom away again, he would revert to being HRH Prince Henry of Wales and the Duchess would become HRH Princess Henry of Wales.
Out in California, where the Sussexes are building their new life, it might be considered much grander to be a prince and princess anyway.
Indeed, many people in Britain find it odd that having grown to know and love ‘Prince Harry’ for all those years, he suddenly morphed into a mere duke on his wedding day. Such are the intricacies of royal nomenclature.
Like Harry, the Duke of Windsor married an American divorcee and left the country, he was going into a life of self-imposed exile. He had renounced the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a woman whom the state and the public would not accept as Queen
So why are they still HRH — even if they don’t use it? This is down to Letters Patent issued by George V in 1917 when he laid down new rules on who should or should not be royal.
He ruled that the son of the son of a monarch is ‘HRH’ — and so (by convention) is his spouse. Monarchs can always change the rules again.
The Queen issued fresh Letters Patent in 1996 to remove ‘HRH’ from those who had acquired it on marrying into the family — and who then got divorced (namely, the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York).
It was not an act of spite (Diana had already volunteered to lose her ‘HRH’ style anyway) but of principle. Royal status acquired on marriage would disappear if that marriage was dissolved.
So the Queen could do it again. To strip Harry and Meghan of ‘HRH’, however, really would be seen as an act of spite because it would be removing Harry’s birthright.
He was born royal and remains, as the Palace stressed yesterday, a ‘much loved member of the family’. And such a move would stir up unwanted memories of the former King Edward VIII.
Though, like Harry, the Duke of Windsor married an American divorcee and left the country, he was going into a life of self-imposed exile. He had renounced the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a woman whom the state and the public would not accept as Queen.
By contrast, everyone was delighted when Harry married Meghan on that magical day nearly three years ago. Their subsequent career path has been one entirely of their own design — and there is nothing to stop them coming back again whenever they choose.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor would spend the rest of their lives feeling deeply resentful towards the rest of the Royal Family. Two issues, in particular, became festering sores. One was money (though the Duke had secured a small fortune for himself when he abdicated) and the other was the Duchess’s royal status.
In 1937, King George VI issued new Letters Patent allowing his elder brother to style himself ‘HRH’ but forbidding the duchess or any subsequent children (there were none) from doing the same. It rankled for the rest of their lives.
Since Harry and Meghan don’t use their ‘HRH’ handle, it is hardly an issue. Removing it would stir up a battle that the Queen neither needs nor wants and it would be even more painful for the Prince of Wales.
He adores his younger son and would dearly like to see more of him and his young family, not less. However, I can see it becoming more and more of an issue as the couple branch out in fresh directions — starting with next month’s Oprah Winfrey interview.
That will be followed, soon enough, by Netflix productions, Spotify podcasts and assorted other projects under their new ‘Archewell’ brand.
Everyone was delighted when Harry married Meghan on that magical day nearly three years ago. Their subsequent career path has been one entirely of their own design — and there is nothing to stop them coming back again whenever they choose
The couple have lost all their royal patronages — including those Forces and Commonwealth appointments that meant a great deal to the Queen (they were the only other royal names on the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, one of her great legacy projects). In time, the same question will be asked by more members of the public: if they are no longer royal, then why are they still royal?
The Sussexes could, of course, ask the Queen to take away their royal status. For now, as they continue to issue statements as ‘Duke and Duchess’ that seems unlikely.
So, this curious limbo status continues thanks to a system that may seem strange and arcane in the funky Californian milieu that they now inhabit.
But are royal titles any weirder than the stated aims of the Sussexes in their new life?
‘At Archewell, we unleash the power of compassion to drive systemic cultural change,’ says their new ‘mission’ statement. ‘We do this through our non-profit work within Archewell Foundation 501(c)(3), in addition to creative activations through the business verticals of audio and production.’
It’s enough to make Letters Patent look as easy as ABC.
End of Harry’s Army dream: He always yearned for military life and called it his family, now MARK NICOL asks – can any censure be more painful?
- Harry will be prevented from wearing full military regalia at official gatherings after suffering a bitter blow
- His honorary roles, such as Captain General of the Royal Marines, will be returned to Queen and redistributed
- Garments he should no longer wear are understood to include the Blues and Royals frockcoat worn on his wedding day and the Royal Marines dress uniform
Prince Harry will be forbidden by tradition from wearing full military regalia after suffering the bitter blow of losing his honorary appointments with the Armed Forces, it emerged tonight.
With the duke no longer returning as a working member of the Royal Family, his honorary roles, such as Captain General of the Royal Marines, will be returned to Her Majesty before being redistributed among other senior royals.
Harry, 36, will be prevented – if only by tradition – from wearing full military regalia. Should he attend a Remembrance Sunday event he could wear his medals and a regimental beret but not a uniform.
Iin 2005 Prince Harry, then aged only 20, began his officer training. It was widely remarked that the Army became his family. Pictured: Harry during a 1993 visit to the barracks in Hanover (left) and (right) Prince Harry races to scramble an Apache while serving in Afghanistan in 2012
No more Commodore in Chief of Little Ships
The honorary military titles that Prince Harry has lost:
Captain General, Royal Marines
As the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines, Harry was appointed in December 2017, succeeding the Duke of Edinburgh.
He made numerous visits to the Commando Training Centre in Devon and to Norway for arctic warfare drills.
He made his last appearance in Royal Marines uniform at a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2020.
Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington
Appointed by the Queen in 2008 and visited the base on at least three occasions in his formal role.
In 2010 he presented the families of two servicemen killed in Afghanistan with the Elizabeth Cross.
Royal Air Force Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, is the RAF’s centre of Force Protection.
Commodore-in-Chief, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving
Appointed in August 2006 in recognition of the links between the Navy and the Royals.
Opened the £30million Amphibious Centre of Excellence at Devonport Naval Base in 2013.
Garments he should no longer wear are understood to include the Blues and Royals frockcoat worn on his wedding day in May 2018 and the Royal Marines dress uniform he wore to the Royal Albert Hall in March 2020, shortly before he stepped down as a senior royal.
Last night, his former commander General Lord Dannatt paid a glowing personal tribute to Prince Harry, saying his heart would always be with Britain’s military community even though he may never be seen in uniform again.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Mail Lord Dannatt, a former head of the UK’s Armed Forces, sounded a defiant note on his behalf after the prince’s 16 years of service.
He said: ‘It was a privilege to have enjoyed Prince Harry’s comradeship during the years that he has served his country in uniform.
‘As we say, ‘You can take someone out of the Army, but you can never take the Army out of them’.
‘I am sure the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force would say the same. I have no doubt that this will be Prince Harry’s emotion.
‘The announcement from Buckingham Palace is welcome in so far as it clears the air about the Duke of Sussex’s future intentions.
‘I fully respect and support the decision that he has made in the best interests of his wife and growing family.
‘The military community will miss his official connections and contributions but I am in no doubt that he will continue to support our serving and veteran soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in a private capacity, especially through the Invictus Games and service charities.’
Back in 2005 Prince Harry, then aged only 20, climbed the ornate steps of the Old College at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) to begin his officer training. It was widely remarked in the following years that the Army became his family.
He subsequently served his country with distinction on the frontline in Afghanistan, both as a soldier on the ground and later as a helicopter pilot.
After Sandhurst Prince Harry commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry, in 2006. A debate soon began about whether he could deploy with his unit to Iraq.
As he was not directly in line to the throne many senior army figures thought he should go.
Eventually the Ministry of Defence, after drawn-out discussions with Buckingham Palace, was persuaded that he would be a high profile target whose presence would endanger those deployed with him.
News means Prince Harry won’t be allowed to wear the dress uniform he wore on his wedding day (left) and the Royal Marines dress uniform he wore to the Royal Albert Hall in March 2020
Pictured: Prince Harry exits the Australian War Memorial on April 6, 2015 in Canberra, Australia
Lord Dannatt then personally arranged for Prince Harry to serve in Afghanistan. He struck a deal with media outlets for them not to report his presence in return for interviews to be published and broadcast on his return.
The deal held for ten weeks, allowing Harry to experience the brutal realities of warfare.
He served as a Forward Air Controller with a desert reconnaissance unit. In doing so he became the first member of the Royal Family to serve on the frontline since Prince Andrew took part in the Falklands War in 1982 as a helicopter pilot.
While Lord Dannatt last night offered Prince Harry his best wishes, he also sounded a note of caution as the Duke of Sussex starts a new chapter in his life.
He added: ‘Prince Harry will have had to weigh up very carefully everything that was important in his life.
‘Although he cares deeply for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that he has served with and our veterans, especially those who have been wounded, his priority is with his wife and growing family.
‘I fully respect and support the very difficult decision that he has had to make.
‘I wish him well for the future and know that his heart will always be with the British military.’
Harry, 36, will be prevented from wearing full military regalia and stripped of royal patronages
On his return to the UK from Afghanistan Prince Harry was advised to retrain as a helicopter pilot should he wish to go back to the conflict – though secretly few senior officers expected him to pass the necessary selection tests.
But he defied their low expectations, qualifying as an Apache helicopter co-pilot and gunner.
He returned to Helmand Province in September 2012 with the Army Air Corps and duly completed a four-month operational tour.
Harry then focused on veterans’ welfare and helped set up the Invictus Games, a version of the Paralympics for injured military personnel, before retiring from the Army in June 2015.
In December 2017, Harry accepted the role of Captain General of the Royal Marines from his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had served in this capacity for a remarkable 64 years.
The prince made a number of visits to the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Lympstone, Devon, and to Norway where Marines practice arctic warfare.
It has been speculated that the Captain General’s role could pass to Prince William or the Princess Royal.
Harry will also relinquish his roles as honorary commandant of RAF Honington and Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy’s Small Ships and DivingLast night, the Ministry of Defence declined to comment on any issues raised by yesterday’s Buckingham Palace statement on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
What the royal statements say… and what they REALLY mean: How ‘deeply disappointed’ Queen’s announcement and Harry and Meghan’s ‘rude’ response reveal two ‘VERY different attitudes to a life of service’
- Two statements issued by Buckingham Palace and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle three minutes apart
- Royal experts say difference lays bare ‘deep divisions’ between the Sussexes and the rest of Royal Family
- Palace referred to couple as ‘much loved members of the family’ and said it was ‘saddened by their decision’
- Queen said ‘it is not possible to continue with responsibilities and duties that come with life of public service’
- But Harry and Meghan hit back in own statement, saying they ‘remain committed’ and ‘service is universal’
By Mark Duell for MailOnline
The two statements issued by Buckingham Palace and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle three minutes apart today laid bare the ‘deep divisions’ between the Sussexes and the rest of Royal Family, royal experts said today.
The Palace referred to the Sussexes in a statement issued to all the media at 12.01pm as ‘much loved members of the family’ and said it was ‘saddened by their decision’ in failing to return as working royals.
It also revealed the Queen had ‘written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.
But Harry and Meghan hit back in their own statement three minutes later, saying they ‘remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world’, adding: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
This statement was issued by their spokesman at 12.04pm only to their trusted media partners such as royal biographer Omid Scobie, the author of Finding Freedom, who was among the first to post it on Twitter.
Here, royal experts analyse the meanings behind the statements from the Sussexes and Buckingham Palace.
The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Buckingham Palace (left) and Harry and Meghan (right)
Meghan, Harry and the Queen at an awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 26, 2018
The Buckingham Palace statement begins by outlining how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed to the Queen that they will not be returning as working members of the royal family. It adds:
‘Following conversations with the duke, the Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.’
BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said there is almost an unspoken sentence after that from the Queen: ‘A life of public service like I have led, like my husband has led at the age of nearly 100, like the rest of your family continue to lead but which you have decided to opt out of’. The Palace statement continues:
ROBERT JOBSON: What astonishes me is Harry and Meghan’s frankly rude response
It is a sad but inevitable consequence of Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit the royal family and live in America as private individuals that they are effectively now out in the cold.
They took a decision that they no longer wanted to commit full time to serve the Queen and monarchy, but felt they still had a role to play.
I am afraid after a year in which the Queen hoped the dust would settle, which left the door open should they change their minds, the Queen, on advice, has decided that the door has to be firmly shut.
Her Majesty’s decision gives clarity to a confusing situation and in my opinion the only course she could take. But there is a cool and hidden anger there too in her statement.
The fact that they released this statement whilst Prince Philip was recovering in hospital is remarkable too and speaks volumes.
The Palace statement makes the distinction between Crown and Family. The Queen acknowledges that they are loved as members of her family. But that does not hide the fury over their decision to give an interview to Oprah that will inevitably open up old wounds.
The interview is clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back. What astonishes me is Harry and Meghan’s frankly rude response.
They seem hell bent on undermining the Queen’s decades of duty and service, and that of the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales as well as other working royals, with their flippant and petulant remark.
To say they remain committed to ‘duty and service to the UK and around the world and adding that ‘we can all live a life of service and that service is universal’ is simply rude.
It is almost laying down the gauntlet to the Queen and the Royal Family, implying their brand of modern royalty is better.
Personally, also for clarity I believe Harry’s title the Duke of Sussex, a royal dukedom and his position in the line of succession, should be removed too.
I feel that should be for members of the royal family who are committed to and working for the institution. It is not, after all, about personalities.
I feel sorry for the Queen, but also for The Prince of Wales – who must be torn emotionally by his son’s rogue behaviour – and Prince William who now has to go forward bearing a much greater load, he had hoped to share with his brother.
The Sussexes seem only concerned with their feelings and how events impact on them.
Harry, who served in the armed forces with distinction, is understandably upset at losing his honorary titles and military associations and patronages. But what did he honestly expect?
Being a member of the royal family is a life time commitment. It comes with great privileges but also great responsibilities.
Harry and Meghan have decided to walk away from the royal family and meeting those responsibilities. It is a price they have to pay.
Harry and Meghan talk a lot about respecting the Queen. It’s time they showed it with their actions not just empty words.
ROBERT JOBSON is a royal expert and author of the forthcoming book Prince Philip’s Century
‘The honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by the duke and duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of the royal family.’
Royal expert Robert Jobson, author of the forthcoming book Prince Philip’s Century, says Harry, who served in the Armed Forces with distinction, is ‘understandably upset’ at losing his titles, military associations and patronages, ‘but what did he honestly expect?’
Harry will also no longer be Captain General of the Royal Marines, nor hold two other honorary military appointments.
Royal writer Penny Junor said: ‘It does draw a line. It’s hurtful but every divorce is hurtful. This is the decree absolute.
‘People lose things in a divorce. They lose pets, they lose houses, they lose children, and there was no way this was going to end well.’
A royal source said they had ‘absolutely, no question’ wanted to keep the positions they had lost.
The official statement goes on:
‘While all are saddened by their decision, the duke and duchess remain much loved members of the family.’
Mr Witchell said: ‘Of course they’re ”saddened”, as the statement says, they’re deeply disappointed I think with how matters have turned out.’
He added: ‘I sense a real sense of exasperation in these statements on both sides.’
Speaking to MailOnline this afternoon, royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said of the phrase ‘much loved’ in Buckingham Palace’s statement: ‘I think this means that Harry in particular, is very dear to the Queen.’
Speaking about the word ‘saddened’, he added: ‘Obviously there is disappointment by their decision not to return, though this was inevitable. Whereas it is Meghan who has undoubtedly been the driving force in this, Harry has changed and they are a united couple in this decision.’
ITV royal editor Chris Ship said that normally with statements from the Palace you have to ‘dog down’ to discover what has happened, but not so here.
‘It’s a pretty sharp way to end there. I think it rather suggests it wasn’t very pleasant at all,’ he said.
‘That jumped out at me as soon as i read it.’
The spokesman for Harry and Meghan said:
‘As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role.’
Mr Witchell told the BBC News Channel today the phrase ‘as evidenced by their work over the past year’ revealed a sense of the couple ‘thumbing their noses’, saying ‘don’t tell us how to lead our lives’.
Royal experts say that the section of the statement emphasising that the couple have ‘offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role’ reveals that they strongly disagree that the commitments they have made are incompatible with keeping royal patronages.
The statement from the couple goes on:
‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
Royal commentators say the first sentence reveals very different attitudes to the concept of service.
Of the Sussexes’s reference to service being ‘universal’, Mr Fitzwilliams said: ‘The way the Sussexes see the world is different. They are less formal. It indicates to their former patronages that they are very unhappy to lose official links with them.’
Ms Junor said of the response from the Sussexes: ‘It sounds petulant. They sound disappointed and hurt and I can understand that.’
She added: ‘It’s sort of two fingers at the institution – the men and women that run it.
‘I don’t think it would be to the Queen because I imagine they think the Queen is being advised, which she is.’
Ms Junor described the conclusion to Megxit as the final step in a troubled divorce proceedings, following on from Harry and Meghan quitting as senior working royals last year.
Royal commentator Robert Jobson told MailOnline Harry and Meghan saying they remain committed to ‘duty and service to the UK and around the world’ and adding that ‘we can all live a life of service and that service is universal’ was ‘simply rude’.
‘It is almost laying down the gauntlet to the Queen and the Royal Family, implying their brand of modern royalty is better,’ he said.
Mr Jobson continued: ‘It is a sad but inevitable consequence of Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit the royal family and live in America as private individuals that they are effectively now out in the cold.
‘They took a decision that they no longer wanted to commit full time to serve the Queen and monarchy, but felt they still had a role to play.
‘I am afraid after a year in which the Queen hoped the dust would settle, which left the door open should they change their minds, the Queen, on advice, has decided that the door has to be firmly shut.
‘Her Majesty’s decision gives clarity to a confusing situation and in my opinion the only course she could take. But there is a cool and hidden anger there too in her statement.’
He added that the fact they released the statement while Prince Philip is recovering in hospital is ‘remarkable too and speaks volumes’.
Mr Jobson continued: ‘The Palace statement makes the distinction between Crown and Family. The Queen acknowledges that they are loved as members of her family. But that does not hide the fury over their decision to give an interview to Oprah that will inevitably open up old wounds.
‘The interview is clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back. What astonishes me is Harry and Meghan’s frankly rude response.
‘They seem hell bent on undermining the Queen’s decades of duty and service, and that of the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales as well as other working royals, with their flippant and petulant remark.
‘To say they remain committed to ”duty and service to the UK and around the world” and adding that ”we can all live a life of service and that service is universal” is simply rude.’
He said that Harry’s title the Duke of Sussex, a royal dukedom, and his position in the line of succession should also be removed.
Mr Jobson added: ‘I feel that should be for members of the Royal Family who are committed to and working for the institution. It is not, after all, about personalities.
‘I feel sorry for the Queen, but also for The Prince of Wales – who must be torn emotionally by his son’s rogue behaviour – and Prince William who now has to go forward bearing a much greater load, he had hoped to share with his brother.
‘The Sussexes seem only concerned with their feelings and how events impact on them.
‘Harry, who served in the Armed Forces with distinction, is understandably upset at losing his honorary titles and military associations and patronages. But what did he honestly expect?
‘Being a member of the royal family is a life time commitment. It comes with great privileges but also great responsibilities.
‘Harry and Meghan have decided to walk away from the royal family and meeting those responsibilities. It is a price they have to pay.
‘Harry and Meghan talk a lot about respecting the Queen. It’s time they showed it with their actions not just empty words.’
And BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell told the BBC News Channel today: ‘I sense a real sense of exasperation in these statements on both sides.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend a reception at Buckingham Palace in London to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in July 2018 (left). The Queen is pictured at a Remembrance Sunday service last November (right)
‘The statement from Buckingham Palace issued at midday after a conversation ‘with the Duke of Sussex, the Queen has written, confirming it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.
Harry and Meghan ‘crossed the red line’ by walking away from the monarchy
Royal biographer Angela Levin
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex ‘crossed the red line’ in deciding to walk away from the monarchy, a royal biographer has said, following the announcement that they are to be stripped of their patronages.
Angela Levin said the Queen was a ‘patient woman’ but that she was ‘devoted to her sense of duty’ and the protection of the royal family.
It comes after Buckingham Palace released a statement saying all were ‘saddened’ by the decision, but Harry and Meghan remained ‘much loved members of the family’.
‘I’m not in the least surprised. I think there’s been a lot of rumours that the Queen would do this,’ Ms Levin said. ‘The Queen as we know is devoted to her duty and to her country…she loves her children and being a grandmother.
‘But in the end her sense of duty is more important than grandchildren or children or great grandchildren. She wants to keep them close as a family, but they cannot push their luck too far.’
Ms Levin said there had been concerns at the palace over how ‘increasingly escapist’ Harry and Meghan had become. ‘(The Queen) doesn’t want the royal family’s name to be tainted in that way and this, I think, crossed the red line,’ she said.
‘She’s a very patient woman, she’s not a micromanager. She lets her children and grandchildren do what they want up to a certain extent and when they overstep that, she comes down.’
The announcement comes ahead of a special interview of Harry and Meghan with Oprah Winfrey, which is due to be broadcast in March.
‘When senior members of the Royal family say too much or say things that (the Queen) thinks are wrong the whole family is affected by it,’ said Ms Levin. ‘I think she is very concerned about what the interview with Oprah Winfrey will reveal.
‘There’s been a lot of publicity saying that it’s going to be a tell-all, no-questions-barred, and I think she’s concerned about how that would be, and she’s got to protect the royal family.’
Asked about the future relationship between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the royal family, she continued: ‘I think it’s very difficult indeed. I don’t think it will be bonding.
‘I think (Harry) is more loyal to his wife. He adores Meghan and she is his priority. But you can’t have it both ways, you can’t be half in and half out. This is one chapter in a very long story, and we don’t know what’s going to happen.
‘I hope that maybe this new baby, now that Meghan is pregnant again, will help make some sort of bond, but we shall have to see.’
‘There’s almost an unspoken sentence which doesn’t appear in the statement after that: ”A life of public service like I have led, like my husband has led at the age of nearly 100, like the rest of your family continue to lead but which you have decided to opt out of”.
‘Of course they’re ”saddened”, as the statement says, they’re deeply disappointed I think with how matters have turned out. And then the Sussexes’ statement which concludes with these couple of phrases ”we can all live a life of service. Service is universal”.
‘Isn’t there just a sense there of thumbing their noses, ”don’t tell us how to lead our lives”. Harry I think will now perhaps finally realise the implications of the decision that they have taken, that it is not possible to do both – to have one foot in the Royal Family, and another foot outside.
‘That is what the Queen has insisted on and that is what this statement from Buckingham Palace means.’
Mr Fitzwilliams said: ‘The statement from Buckingham Palace about Harry and Meghan’s future status and Harry and Meghan’s response highlights very different attitudes to the concept of service.
‘The original statement from the Palace last January marking the Sandringham Agreement, was accompanied by a warm personal statement from the Queen.
‘Here the Palace clearly feels that being based in California, with the commitments they have made and will make to Netflix, Spotify, the Harry Walker Agency and their non-profit charitable organization, Archewell, is incompatible with retaining royal patronages.
‘The Sussexes reply makes clear that they disagree and the tone of the statement shows that they strongly disagree.’
Mr Fitzwilliams also told MailOnline it was ‘enormously sad’, adding: ‘The Sussexes lasted less than two years as senior working royals and no one expected them to return. However, it was thought possible that they might retain Meghan’s patronages and, most particularly, Harry’s military links which mean so much to him.
‘As a veteran of two tours of duty in Afghanistan, who found solace in the army during the years after his mother’s tragic death, and also as the founder of the enormously successful Invictus Games, he will feel that he has lost a large part of his life, owing to the choice he has made as to with whom and how that life is to be lived.
‘The royal family have not forgotten how brutally they were treated when the Sussexes announced they were stepping back last January and caused a crisis which led to the Sandringham Agreement though they made clear they were not happy with that either.
‘These are deep divisions and the forthcoming 90-minute interview with Oprah is being given by the couple to a worldwide audience against this background.
‘The discussions which have led to today’s announcements may well not have amiable. However, what the Sussexes choose to reveal of their royal life on Oprah in front of a global audience, may make for extremely uncomfortable viewing for the royal family.’
It comes after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were stripped of their prestigious patronages, with their decision to walk away from the monarchy and move to the US to pursue personal and financial freedom coming at a cost.
Harry will lose his roles as Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands’ Small Ships and Diving.
The decision came after Harry held talks with his grandmother the Queen and other senior royals ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Sussexes formally stepping down as working royals on March 31.
From Harry and Meghan to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex: How the tone of statements issued by Buckingham Palace has changed dramatically in the past 13 months
The tone of statements issued by Buckingham Palace in the past 13 months about ‘Megxit’ has changed dramatically – with the couple referred to as ‘Harry and Meghan’ last January, but now ‘the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’.
Among those spotting the difference was former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt, who tweeted that the ‘personal touch is gone and the irritation at choosing freedom over duty shines through’.
In the first statement on January 13 last year, the Queen spoke warmly about her family having ‘very constructive discussions’ and that she was ‘entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family’.
The monarch also spoke of the ‘complex matters for my family to resolve’ but did stress that she had ‘asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days’, suggesting urgency was required.
In a second statement on January 18 last year, the Queen said she was ‘pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family’, again calling them by name rather than title.
She also spoke of the ‘ challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years’, adding that she was ‘particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family’.
The statement also included words on behalf of Harry and Meghan, which said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.’
But the statement issued today was remarkably different, referring to the couple only as ‘the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’, with no reference to Archie or Harry being the Queen’s grandson.
It also said the family were ‘are saddened by their decision’, but added: ‘The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.’ Here are the three statements:
JANUARY 13, 2020
Statement from Her Majesty the Queen
Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.
My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.
Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.
It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.
These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.
JANUARY 18, 2020
Statement from Her Majesty the Queen
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.
Statement from Buckingham Palace
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.
As agreed in this new arrangement, they 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.
With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.
The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.
Buckingham Palace does not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security.
This new model will take effect in the Spring of 2020.
FEBRUARY 19, 2021 (TODAY)
Buckingham Palace statement on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family.
Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service. The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family.
While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.