We know from their statement that the Sussexes stepped back to carve out a progressive new role in the royal family. But did Prince Harry and Meghan Markle feel obligated to leave? New sources reportedly close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex suggest that the couple felt they had no other choice but to approach things the way they did — that their “hand was forced” to make a move in the face of increasing discord in the royal family and particularly in attitudes toward them.
A family friend told People that Harry and Meghan would have preferred a different scenario in regard to their historic exit announcement. “If relationships had been better, things would have been different,” said the source, implying that it isn’t just Harry and Meghan’s relationship to other members of the royal family that is troubled. “This is not how they wanted to handle this, but Meghan and Harry’s hand was forced. There is so much bad blood in that family — it’s toxic.”
According to another source, the Sussexes ultimately felt unsupported by the rest of the royals in the face of increasingly unfair scrutiny. “Meghan and Harry didn’t feel they got enough comfort or solace from them,” said the source.
Is this really the way all of this played out? Was Meghan and Harry’s groundbreaking decision precipitated by a sense of alienation within the monarchy? If these sources are to be believed, sure. But it goes without saying that any reports which don’t come directly from Harry and Meghan at this point have to be taken with a grain of salt.
Assuming these reports are true, though, maybe Harry and Meghan’s exit will serve as a catalyst for healing within the royal family. On Monday, the Queen issued a statement about Harry and Meghan’s choice that certainly felt like a step in a positive direction.
“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family,” she said.
Even royal historian and biographer Robert Lacey couldn’t help but marvel over the unexpected sentimentality of the Queen’s response. “It was incredibly personal,” he told People, adding, “I can’t recall a royal statement where one gets the sense so much of the Queen herself speaking. Using phrases like ‘my family and I’ is very moving. It clearly shows her wish to resolve everything.”