Meghan Markle and Prince Harry stood down as working members of the Royal Family in the spring of 2020, three months after they first announced their intentions to change their status within the Firm.
The strained relationship between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Firm and Meghan and Harry’s decision to step back as working members of the institution had “real repercussions” for Prince William, according to royal author Katie Nicholl. The commentator said the Prince of Wales had expected the Duke of Sussex to play a supporting role as they grew older and their duties for the family and the Crown increased.
In an adapted excerpt from her new book The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown published by Vanity Fair, Ms Nicholl wrote: “For Charles and William, the situation with the Sussexes hasn’t just been hurtful and upsetting on a personal level. “There have been real repercussions, particularly for William, whose young family has been thrust into the spotlight prematurely. “He always expected Harry would be his wingman; there was a long-term plan in place for the brothers to work together and support one another.”
The author also claimed the heir to the throne called a meeting with his close aides after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made an announcement in early January 2020 regarding their desire to change their position within the Firm. She wrote: “After Harry announced their departure, William summoned aides to address the future, in what has been referred to by some in William’s circle as the ‘Anmer Summit’.” This name echoed the one given to another meeting, Sandringham Summit, held on January 18 2020 at Sandringham House between the Queen, Charles, William, Harry and royal aides to thrash out the Sussexes’ exit terms from the Firm.
Following the departure of Meghan and Harry from Britain, a process dubbed as Megxit, the now Prince and Princess of Wales were among the royals who had to fill the gaps left by the Sussexes. In February, it was announced Kate had taken on two of the patronages the Duke had to relinquish upon leaving the Firm. Following the news the princess had become the patron of the Rugby Football League and Rugby Football Union, Kate put on her sports gear and headed to Twickenham Stadium for a special training session with the England team. One of Meghan’s patronages passed on to her by the Queen, the National Theatre, was instead given to Camilla, the Queen Consort.
The loss of two prominent working royals such as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex also meant more engagements and areas of focus had to be spread among fewer people. Meghan and Harry announced on January 8 two years ago their intention to step back from their roles as full-time working royals to carve out a progressive new role for themselves. While remaining members of the Firm carrying out certain royal duties and representing the Queen and the Crown, they wanted to relinquish taxpayer funding to decrease the level of scrutiny in their lives. This would have prompted them to take on financially profitable deals to fund themselves.
Moreover, they said to have the desire to live between North America and the UK. These conditions, however, were not deemed workable during the Sandringham Summit. As a consequence, Meghan and Harry left the Firm entirely, relinquishing their rights to carry out royal duties, hold royal and military patronages and use their HRH styling.
The difference in status between Harry and William was visible during the period of national mourning and the Queen’s funeral. The Duke, a veteran who served in Afghanistan twice, was allowed to wear his military uniform only during a 15-minute vigil at Westminster Hall held with his brother and their six cousins. However, his military attire lacked the “ER” cypher.
At the funeral, while Harry took part in the procession he did not join William, Charles, Prince Edward and Princess Anne in wearing the uniform of the Blues and Royals. In late August, Meghan opened up on the decision to leave the Firm in an interview with New York magazine The Cut. The Duchess said what she and Harry were asking wasn’t “reinventing the wheel”, claiming other members of the Royal Family were given the arrangements they preferred. She added: “That, for whatever reason, is not something that we were allowed to do, even though several other members of the family do that exact thing.”