Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced in a shocking statement Wednesday that they were stepping down as “senior” members of the royal family and looking to make major changes with their lives.
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said on their Sussex Royal Instagram account.
“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”
The announcement set off a shockwave across the internet and left major questions for royal diehards and casual fans alike. Amid the chatter and the headlines, Harry and Meghan released more information explaining their plans, and we’ve compiled a handy guide to all of the Megxit madness.
1. Why would they do this?
Harry and Meghan have not stated a reason other than telling their followers Wednesday that they intend to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution.”
2. What does it all … mean?
There are three main things to focus on as the duke and duchess step down: Harry and Meghan are moving, becoming financially independent and they’re going to work with the media differently.
3. Was this planned?
Meghan and Harry just returned from a six-week royal sabbatical in Canada, but it certainly appears the move and announcement were planned, as the pair already updated their website with additional information about what they’ll do.
4. How did the royal family react to the news?
BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond reported that the royal family didn’t know that Meghan and Harry were putting out their announcement Wednesday, and People quoted a royal source as saying, “There is a lot of hurt about this.”
Normally with news this big, the royal family would coordinate statements from Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House. But it took Buckingham Palace a few hours to issue a terse statement that lends credibility to the idea they didn’t know this was happening Wednesday.
“Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” the palace said in a statement. “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
Prince Charles, Harry’s father, and Prince William, Harry’s older brother, have yet to respond publicly.
5. Have we ever seen anything like this from the royal family?
So glad you asked! As many have pointed out, Meghan and Harry’s move is drawing a lot of comparisons to Prince Edward, who abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée (Simpson is often compared to Meghan, who also was previously married).
We also recently saw Prince Andrew step away from royal duties, but for a much different reason. The Prince of York, Charles’ younger brother, stepped down from public life in November after his ties with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein became too distracting for this role as a royal.
6. Where will Harry and Meghan live?
Harry and Meghan announced that they will be splitting their time between the U.K. (where they currently live at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor) and North America.
In North America, they’ll likely reside in Canada and possibly Los Angeles, where Meghan was born and where her mother, Doria Ragland, lives. While in the U.K., it’s unclear whether they will still live at the recently renovated Frogmore Cottage, which is located at Windsor Castle
7. How will they interact with media, specifically British media?
Starting this spring, Meghan and Harry said on their website, they will “provide access to credible media outlets” that do “accurate and honest media reporting.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said that as they are moving toward financial independence, they will do away with their participation in the royal rota, which is a collection of royal correspondents from British media outlets including The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Daily Mirror.
8. Are Meghan and Harry still royalty?
Yes, Meghan and Harry are still royalty. Drawing on recent royal precedent, after Prince Andrew announced in November he was stepped back from duties, there was no change to his royal status or his title as the Duke of York.
9. Will Prince Harry get a last name?
He already has one! Technically, in the military, Prince Harry used the name “Harry Wales,” and his full name is actually “His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales.”
If he needs a last name, he could also use the surname Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip came up with in 1960 for their direct descendants, which is “Mountbatten-Windsor.” Little Archie also uses the surname, as he doesn’t have a royal title.
9. What does this mean for Archie?
Right now little Archie’s biggest job is looking cute. But Archie will likely follow in the footsteps of Harry’s cousins, Zara Tindall, Peter Phillips and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, who are not working royals and do not carry out any form of royal duties.
The children of Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, don’t have royal titles.
10. How will Meghan and Harry’s royal roles change?
According to their Sussex Royal website, Harry and Meghan will continue to support their various patronages and charities and carry out their duties on behalf of the monarchy when called upon (which means we’ll probably see less of them).
The two said that they’re focused on starting a new charitable entity, which will see them focused on issues like conservation, mental health, female empowerment and Harry’s beloved Invictus Games.
11. How will they become financially independent? Are they going to get real-world jobs?
Currently, the royal family is funded by the Sovereign Grant, which supports Queen Elizabeth II and her household’s official expenses. Harry and Meghan’s office only takes 5% of their funding from the Sovereign Grant and gets 95% of their funds from Prince Charles’ estate (which supports Prince Harry’s annual allowance).
The royal family has not yet announced how Harry and Meghan will move toward financial independence. But we know Harry inherited a large sum of money from his mother, Princess Diana, and Meghan, of course, has her own money from her entertainment career.
12. Will Meghan Markle ever act again?
Just after announcing her engagement to Prince Harry in November 2017, Meghan announced that she was stepping away from her former life as an actor to focus on new royal duties.
Though it’s doubtful we’d see Meghan returned to the big screen (maybe a cameo in “The Crown”?), the two could venture further into the entertainment world. Last year, Harry announced that he teamed up with Oprah Winfrey to produce a show for Apple TV Plus focused on mental health, which leads us to believe the Sussexes could land something much like the Obamas’ major production deal with Netflix.
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