Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, will “step back as senior members of the Royal Family” with plans to become “financially independent” and split their time between North America and England.
In a statement shared on Instagram, the couple, wrote, “It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”
The couple concluded, “We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”
Prince Harry and Markle married in 2018, and their son, Archie, was born last May. But as People reports, the past two years have allegedly been fraught with family tension, particularly between Prince William and Prince Harry. For instance, last year, Harry and Markle “split houses” and moved their office out of Kensington Palace, while they reportedly spent the Christmas holiday separate from the rest of the royals. On top of that, Markle has been open about the toll the negative coverage of her in the British press has taken, and she even sued one tabloid, Mail on Sunday, for publishing a private letter to her father.
Prince Harry and Markle’s decision to effectively resign from the Royal Family is largely unprecedented, particularly for a couple so close to the throne. (Harry is currently sixth in line, behind his father, Charles, William, and William’s children.) The last British monarch to abdicate the throne was Edward VIII in 1936, who was king for less than a year and decided to leave the throne so that he could marry the American socialite, Wallis Simpson. At the time, Simpson was in the process of divorcing her second husband, but back then, the Church of England was against allowing people to remarry if their spouses were alive. (It later became clear that both Edward and Simpson were Nazi sympathizers.)
More recently, Prince Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II, announced that he would “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future” mostly due to questions surrounding his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.