We all knew it was coming, and yet it’s hard to believe it’s really here. A little over a year from Prince(?) Harry and Meghan Markle’s shocking announcement that they were leaving the royal family, the Sussexes and Her Majesty have reconvened — and decided to make this temporary break permanent. While it’s seemed clear for some time now that Harry and Meghan weren’t eager to leap back into royal life, particularly given Meghan’s new pregnancy, sources said final agreements had been delayed by Harry trying to negotiate the retention of certain honorary military appointments which had meant a great deal to him. But in a Buckingham Palace statement today, the Queen’s ruling came down: if Harry isn’t going to be a working royal, he doesn’t get to keep the duties of one, even the ones he wants. And it seems from the Sussexes’ response that this decision may have struck a nerve.
In a statement released by the palace this morning, the royal family said this: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family…the Queen has written confirming 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.
A Buckingham Palace statement on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex ➡️https://t.co/nl7RiZmGiZ
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) February 19, 2021
“The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty,” the statement continued, “before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family.”
If you know Meghan Markle, you’ll know that she takes the idea of “a life of public service” quite seriously, and no doubt rankled at the Queen suggesting the only way to commit oneself was through the line of royal duty.
Harry and Meghan add at the very end of their statement: “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) February 19, 2021
In a statement of response, a spokesperson for Meghan and Harry said that they “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,” adding: “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
In other words: they may formally not have the Queen’s permission to do so, but Harry and Meghan are going to stick their damn noses wherever they want. For Meghan as an actress, perhaps this is best explained as a change in representation — the Queen will no longer be handling the couple’s bookings, but Meghan is determined for that to mean the Sussexes have more opportunities, not fewer.
“While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family,” Buckingham Palace’s statement concluded. With the arrival of a new Sussex baby, we hope this family can reconnect on those terms. It seems safe to say their working relationship, however, is done.
Before you go, click here to see the best royal family tell-all books in House of Windsor history.