On Wednesday of last week, Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, made a surprising public statement. They said they plan “to step back” as senior members of the royal family. The couple, who bear the titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex, wish to become financially independent by working in their own careers. They also say they will no longer live primarily in the UK. They plan to set up an additional residence in another location somewhere in North America.
The 35-year-old Harry is the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. He is Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson and sixth in line to the British throne. He and his wife, American actress Meghan Markle, welcomed their son, Archie, in May 2019. Their statement cited the baby as one reason for choosing to live part of their time outside Britain.
“This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born,” it read. It will also provide the young family “with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”
Queen Elizabeth moved quickly to manage the issues that the decision will raise. She ordered royal courtiers to sort out a future role for the pair within days. But the British press launched a barrage of criticism against Harry and Meghan. That kind of media pressure also played into the couple’s decision to step back from their prominent position.
Harry’s mother, Diana, tragically died in a car crash in 1997. Reports said that her driver was speeding while trying to evade a determined photographer. The photographer allegedly wanted to capture images of Diana to sell to the press. Harry and Meghan have long complained of similarly intrusive media coverage. They say they prefer to communicate directly to the public through social media rather than the press.
The two will no longer receive income from the taxpayer-funded account known as the “Sovereign Grant.” It’s unclear exactly what career Harry, a 10-year veteran of the British Army, will pursue. But he has considerable assets left to him by his late mother, estimated at over $9 million. Meghan’s successful acting career offers her ongoing opportunities.
(Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, and Queen Elizabeth II pose for a group photo at the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP)