Topline: Following a relentless media attention year, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, On Wednesday revealed that they would step back from their roles as senior members of the royal family and—in a notable break from the past—work to become “financially independent.”
- In a joint statement posted to Instagram, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”
- “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they wrote.
- The couple said they will split their time between North America and the U.K. in order to raise their son Archie with “an appreciation for the royal tradition” to which he was born, but also “with space to focus on the next chapter.”
- They also plan to launch “a new charitable entity,” but it’s unclear when—but their website now states “They value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing. For this reason they have made the choice to become members of the Royal Family with financial independence.”
- BBC News’ royal correspondent Jonny Dymond reported that no other members of the Royal Family were consulted before the Sussexes released their statement, and that the Palace is “disappointed.”
- Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying discussions with the couple “are at an early stage,” and that “these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
Background Key : Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been subject to intense press coverage since their marriage in 2018, and birth of their first child Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in 2019. (Some of the coverage directed at Meghan has been described as “racist,” with Harry firing off a missive criticizing the press in 2016.) The couple has filed lawsuits in 2019 against British tabloids The Mail on Sunday, The Sun and The Mirror, accusing them of violating their privacy and committing copyright violations. In a 2019 documentary, Meghan admitted that being a newlywed, a new mother and a new royal was “a lot.”
Huge Number: $86 million. That’s how much the monarchy cost British taxpayers in 2018-2019, according to the Royal Household’s annual report. Taxpayer support of the royals is an ongoing political issue in some parts of the U.K., with critics saying vulnerable populations and slashed social programs might have more use for the funds. Harry and Meghan’s website shared that while they will no longer accept taxpayer’s money, that contribution only covered 5% of their costs—specifically for their official office expenses. The remaining 95% of their funding is provided by Prince Charles, Prince Harry’s father, through the Duchy of Cornwall.
The unknown part: How the couple will make money. In the Instagram post, the couple say “the next chapter” would include “the launch of our new charitable entity,” which could, potentially, provide them both a salary. Markle had been an actress (most prominently in the TV show Suits) but has said she would stop acting once she married Prince Harry. The Prince, meanwhile, launched the Invictus Games, and has worked as a patron for a number of charities, including the HALO Trust, Walking With The Wounded, and the London Marathon Charitable Trust.