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Politics

Prince Harry and Meghan Reach Deal With Royal Family and Relinquish Titles

Updated on

Prince Harry and Meghan Reach Deal With Royal Family and Relinquish Titles

  • Sussexes to repay taxpayers for renovations to their U.K. home
  • Agreement ends public role as working members of royal family
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Photographer: Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson Collection/Getty Images
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Photographer: Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson Collection/Getty Images

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are stepping back from their royal duties “with great sadness” after concluding they had “no other option,” the Duke of Sussex said.

The couple agreed this weekend to relinquish their “royal highness” titles and pay back public money spent on renovating their home near Windsor Castle, letting them build a life away from intense scrutiny as members of Britain’s royal family.

Harry had initially hoped to continue serving the queen, along with his military associations, and without public funding -- but that wasn’t an option, he said in his first public remarks since the agreement.

“It brings me great sadness that it has come to this,” Harry told supporters of Sentebale, his Africa-based charity supporting youngsters with HIV, on Sunday in London. “The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly.”

He added: “I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.”

relates to Prince Harry and Meghan Reach Deal With Royal Family and Relinquish Titles

U.K. newspaper headlines on Jan. 19.

Source: Bloomberg

The announcement on Jan. 8 that the couple wished to step back from their royal duties and split their time between the U.K. and North America threw Britain’s monarchy into turmoil and sharpened the national debate about its role in modern-day Britain. The earlier revelations of Prince Andrew’s friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein had already created a PR disaster for Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II, Harry’s grandmother, summoned her immediate family last week to work out an acceptable agreement, which she disclosed Saturday in a rare personal message.

“I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.” the queen said. “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.”

The couple will stop using the royal title with their Duke and Duchess of Sussex names because they are no longer working members of the family. They plan to repay taxpayers for renovations made to Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their family home, and give up public financial support.

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, moved into the house nine months ago, according to the U.K. Press Association, and the cost of the refurbishment is widely estimated at 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million).

“It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life,” the 93-year-old monarch said.

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit Johannesburg - Day Two

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Photographer: Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson Collection/Getty Images

Even though Harry has only a remote prospect of becoming king -- he’s sixth in line, behind his father, brother, nephews and niece -- there was outrage that, with his actress wife, he wanted to become financially independent and “carve out” a “progressive new role.” The couple married at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Archie was born a year later.

The monarch said she was “pleased” that the talks had led to a “supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.” She said she was “particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.”

In a statement released by the palace, the couple said they were grateful to the queen and the family for the ongoing support as they take the next step away from the limelight.

Trooping The Colour 2019

The Royal Family watch the Trooping The Colour, in London, in June 2019.

Photographer: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

On Sunday, politicians expressed sympathy. “I understand that not everyone wants to live their lives in the media bubble and with that level of intense scrutiny,” Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly said on Sky TV’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday” show. “That’s completely understandable, and I’m glad they’ve clearly come to an arrangement that the queen is happy with and they’re happy with.’‘

He declined to comment on security arrangements for the couple, or the cost of them, amid reports that the bill could continue to be funded from public money.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma told BBC TV’s “Andrew Marr Show” that the new arrangements for the couple should be respected.

“The royal family collectively makes a huge contribution to our country,” he said. “I am sure that we will miss the Sussexes. But at the end of the day this is about making sure that we respect their wishes and allow them to get on with their lives.”

As part of the agreement, the couple will step back from royal duties, including official military appointments, and they will no longer receive public funds, according to the statement.

The Sussexes will continue their roles with various private charities and associations. “While they can no longer formally represent the queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty,” the statement said.

Neither the queen’s statement nor the comments from the palace elaborated on the financial arrangements the Sussexes will make in their new roles, which are to begin in the spring.