The Buckingham Palace has confirmed that the Sussex’ — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, will not be returning to royal duties, and Harry will give up his honorary military titles, as well.
When Harry and Meghan stepped away from full-time royal life in March 2020, over unbearable media scrutiny and strictures of their roles, it was agreed the situation would be reviewed a year from that time.
And now one year past, the palace said in a statement on Friday that the couple, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have verified “they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family”.
It said Queen Elizabeth II has spoken to her 36-year-old grandson and confirmed “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 couple is presently in the US. They had shifted to Los Angeles and Meghan is expecting her second child after a painful period of miscarriage following their first born Prince Archie’s birth.
The palace said Harry’s appointment as captain general of the Royal Marines and titles with other military groups would revert to the queen before being distributed to other members of the family.
Harry served in the British army for a decade, including on the front line in Afghanistan, and retains a close bond with the military. He founded the Invictus Games competition for wounded troops, which first was held in 2014 at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and is extremely popular.
The Invictus Games Foundation said Harry would remain its patron. However, he is relinquishing positions as patron of the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Football League and the London Marathon Charitable Trust.
With this development, Meghan, 39, will be stripped of her role as patron of Britain’s National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
“While all are saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family,” the palace statement said.
The former star of the TV legal drama “Suits”, American actress Meghan Markle, married Harry at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born a year later.
Early 2020, the couple announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were “the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess”, who identifies as biracial.
The couple agreed to no longer use the title “royal highness” or “HRH” and receive public funds for their work, although it was unclear at that time whether those decisions would be permanent. The British tabloids had also reported of rifts between the couple and Harry’s elder brother Prince William and his wife Princess Catherine — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
As of now Harry and his wife retain their titles of duke and duchess, and Harry is still sixth in line to the British throne. Harry and Meghan now live in Santa Barbara, California. The couple recently announced they would speak to Oprah Winfrey for a TV special to be broadcast next month, reported the abcnews.com.
Angela Levin, who has written a biography of Prince Harry, said the queen’s anxiety about what the Winfrey interview might disclose may have prompted the royal family to announce the split with Harry and Meghan sooner than planned, the abcnew report said.
“They’re out on their own,” she said. “They’ve got the freedom that they longed for.”
Earlier this year, Meghan won a legal victory in a lawsuit against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, when a British judge ruled the newspaper invaded her privacy by publishing part of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.
The news of their break with the palace comes as Harry’s grandfather, 99-year-old Prince Philip, remains admitted in a London hospital since February 16 after feeling unwell.
A spokesperson for the couple has issued a statement: “As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role.”