The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced that they will step back as “senior” members of the royal family and work to become financially independent while still supporting Her Majesty The Queen. “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 couple said in a statement, which acknowledged the role the public’s encouragement has played in enabling them to prepare for such an adjustment.
“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages,” the message continued. “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 “exciting next step” follows Meghan and Harry’s return to royal duties after a six-week break, during which they celebrated the holidays – their first as a family of three with baby Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor – in Canada, a country the Duchess has previously called a “second home”. There has been mounting speculation around the Sussexes future, particularly after the airing of the ITV documentary Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, which saw Meghan speak candidly about the challenges of navigating new motherhood while under intense scrutiny.
“It’s not enough to just survive something, right?” she said. “That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive. You’ve got to feel happy”. She was open about her naivety regarding the doggedness of the UK tabloids, as well as her aversion to “the British stiff upper lip” – a mindset that arguably stymies healthy, open conversations about moving forwards as an inclusive society. Meghan hoped “the world would get to the point where you just see [them] as a couple who is in love,” but “behind the scenes” it is a “very real thing to be going through”.
Now, the duo is looking ahead to 2020 with the launch of Sussex Royal. So far, they have appointed Karen Blackett, a leading media executive known for championing women and minorities, as the first trustee of the foundation, and trademarked the Sussex royal brand on more than 100 items, including teaching materials and support groups. Blackett will work alongside Natalie Campbell, who moved with the Sussexes from their shared Royal Foundation with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to outline a new charity framework with global reach.
Initiatives such as Travalyst, Harry’s sustainable tourism project, plus other endeavours will also be announced “in due course”. Meghan and Harry ended the message by thanking their followers for their deepest support.
The Queen issued her own comment shortly afterwards. “Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” read the statement issued by Deputy Communications Secretary to The Queen, Hannah Howard. “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”