The Queen’s extraordinary statement about the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as senior royals – issued more than a month ahead of when it was supposed to be – ends a week of turmoil for the monarchy.
Just five days ago the Sussexes posed for a Valentine’s Day photo with Meghan holding her bump to reveal their second baby was on the way, with Buckingham Palace issuing a hastily-prepared response 90 minutes later.
The day after, palace officials were blindsided by an announcement by CBS that Harry and Meghan would be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in a 90-minute TV special on March 7 – with the Queen not told in advance.
Buckingham Palace then made the announcement the following that Philip was in hospital, and by Friday the Queen had publicly taken control of the situation regarding Harry and Meghan’s split from the Royal Family.
Here is how one of the most dramatic weeks in the recent history of the Royal Family unfolded:
THURSDAY, February 11: Meghan Markle wins privacy case against Mail on Sunday and Mail Online
The High Court ruled that the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy was breached over the publication of a letter to her father Thomas.
Meghan, 39, was suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publishers of the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, for misuse of private information, and infringement of copyright for publishing extracts of a letter she sent her father Mr Markle, 76, after her royal wedding in 2018.
Mr Justice Warby said that Meghan had a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ and that it was ‘fanciful to think otherwise.’
Following the ruling, The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline said they would be considering an appeal.
SUNDAY, 7.30pm: Prince Harry and Meghan announce they are expecting their second child
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce they are expecting a second child, with a black and white photograph taken remotely from London of them at their £11million home in California released.
The couple put out the picture on Valentine’s Day of themselves, sat under a tree in Los Angeles, with Harry gazing at his wife and resting his hand on Meghan’s head as she lies in his lap cradling her bump.
A spokesman for Meghan and Harry says: ‘We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.’
The image is taken by their long-time friend and photographer Misan Harriman, who did it remotely from London using an iPad. He has shot to fame over the last year for photographing Black Lives Matter protests.
It is understood the couple told the royal family in advance of making the news public, although the palace are not believed to have seen their statement before it was released. Meghan’s due date is not revealed.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle released this picture on Sunday as they revealed Meghan is pregnant with their second child
MONDAY, 5pm: CBS announces Harry and Meghan will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey
US broadcaster CBS reveals that Prince Harry and Meghan have agreed to a ‘wide-ranging’ interview with Oprah Winfrey, which will be broadcast on March 7, in an announcement that blindsided Buckingham Palace.
Meghan and Oprah are friends and near neighbours in California, with Oprah attending the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding in 2018 and plugging a range of vegan lattes that Meghan has helped finance.
The couple will discuss their move to the United States. It will be the first time the pair have spoken publicly about their bombshell decision to leave Britain and step down from their working roles in the Royal Family.
The interview will be staged in two parts, with Meghan first speaking about everything from ‘stepping into life as a royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure’.
She will then be joined by Harry and the couple will speak about their move last year and their future ‘hopes and dreams for their expanding family’. It will be titled ‘Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A CBS Primetime Special’.
CBS announced the interview by Oprah Winfrey, pictured at Harry and Meghan’s Windsor Castle wedding in May 2018
MONDAY, 10pm: The Daily Mail reveals Harry and Meghan are set to lose all royal patronages
The Daily Mail reveals that Harry and Meghan are set to lose all their remaining royal patronages, with the Queen asking them to relinquish their links with any organisations passed down through the Royal Family.
The report states that her 36-year-old grandson will be stripped of his three remaining honorary military titles and his patronages with the Rugby Football Union, Rugby Football League and the London Marathon.
All of the details reported by the Mail’s Rebecca English were made in official in Buckingham Palace’s statement today, along with the revelation that Meghan would have to step down as patron of the National Theatre.
Sources stressed that a 12-month review of their new status was not put into place last year with a renegotiation of terms in mind, but as a safety net in case they moved abroad ‘and didn’t get a dime in the bank’.
The report stated that it was not clear when an announcement on the patronages would be made, but it was understood that it could be much earlier than March 31, when the couple’s review period concludes.
Prince Harry attends the Mountbatten Festival at the Royal Albert Hall as Captain General of the Royal Marines last March
TUESDAY, pm: Prince Philip is admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London
The Duke of Edinburgh is admitted to hospital after feeling unwell. Philip, aged 99, who received a Covid-19 jab in January, is taken there on the advice of his doctor as a ‘precautionary measure’.
It is understood he walked into hospital unaided and the decision to admit him to King Edward VII Hospital in London’s Marylebone was taken with an ‘abundance’ of caution.
Philip’s illness is not Covid-related and it is understood he had been feeling unwell for a short period before the doctor was called, and he was not an emergency admission but travelled to hospital by car.
Philip had been spending the latest lockdown with the Queen at Windsor Castle after they decided to have a quiet Christmas and remain at their Berkshire residence rather than have a family gathering at Sandringham.
Philip last had a spell in hospital when he spent four nights at the same hospital in December 2019, where he was treated for a ‘pre-existing condition’ and discharged on Christmas Eve.
The Duke of Edinburgh leaves King Edward VII Hospital in London after spending 11 days in April 2018 for a hip operation
WEDNESDAY, 2pm: Buckingham Palace announces Philip is in hospital
Buckingham Palace says Philip will be spending a few days in hospital as a precaution after feeling unwell, prompting messages of support to flood in from across the UK including from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The spokesman says: ‘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.’
The Queen remained at Windsor Castle working as normal and spoke by telephone with the First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, about the work of the Royal Navy at home and overseas.
Meanwhile the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall – who have received their Covid jabs – visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and chatted to patients who have also received their vaccinations.
Charles and Camilla were aware of Philip’s hospital admission before their trip, and the duchess told vaccination trial staff ‘I leapt for joy. I didn’t feel anything’ after having her jab.
Police officers and a doorman stand outside King Edward VII Hospital in London today, where Prince Philip is being treated
FRIDAY, 12pm: Palace says Harry and Meghan will not be returning as working royals
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were today stripped of their prestigious patronages as Buckingham Palace confirmed Megxit was permanent after the 12-month review of their decision to step down as working royals.
Harry and Meghan wanted to retain their formal roles with the military, arts, Commonwealth and sporting organisations, but were told they would have to relinquish the posts after talks with the Queen and senior royals.
Despite Harry and Meghan confirming their decision to remain in the US for personal and financial freedom, they believed they could still represent the organisations and wanted to retain the positions they lost, a source said.
A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess said they have ‘offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role, adding: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
And a Buckingham Palace statement said all were ‘saddened’ by their decision to permanently step down as working royals, but they remained ‘much loved members of the family’.
Meghan, Harry and the Queen at an awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 26, 2018