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Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are Returning to London

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, attend a service to mark the centenary of the Armistice at Westminster Abbey on November 11, 2018, in London. Photo: Getty Images

The reports emerged last week: Frogmore Cottage, the Sussexes’ home in England, was preparing for the Duke’s arrival. This tidbit caused a stir. If true, this would mean Harry would be heading back to the UK for the first time since making his last official appearance at the Commonwealth Day service on March 9.

Then came the follow-up questions: Why is he going back? (Some suggested he was going to talk to the queen after the couple received pushback for discussing voter registration for the 2020 election.) When is he going back? Was this an imminent trip—for the holidays, or in January? And who is he going back with? Inquirers wondered whether the Duchess and their young son, Archie, would return as well.

First things first: Splitting time between California and the UK was always the plan for Harry and Meghan. “We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America,” the couple said in their stepping-down statement on January 8. “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.” Under ordinary circumstances, we would have likely seen Harry and Meghan back in London even earlier. But the pandemic canceled such large gatherings, and also made air travel inadvisable.

“There have been a lot of rumors circulating about this. Had it not been for COVID and travel restrictions, they would have already been back in the UK For events like Beatrice’s wedding and Trooping of the Colour, for example,” a source close to the couple tells Vogue. So their return was, well, inevitable. Especially now that an overseas visit is more doable—the United States and the UK are reportedly developing a safer travel corridor between the two countries.

The couple also may have a set reason for returning sooner rather than later: Markle’s court case against the publisher of The Mail on Sunday. The case—which in the past few months has been in the pretrial phase—officially begins on January 11, 2021, and lasts 10 days. According to a report in Vanity Fair, the couple will return before the start of the trial as they need to undergo a two-week quarantine after traveling to the UK from America. That means the couple would need to leave the U.S. in late December.

It’ll likely be both a poignant and pained reunion for the couple and the royal family, who haven’t seen each other in person since March. Since then, much has changed: Harry and Meghan announced a Netflix deal, bought their first home and paid back the public for Frogmore Cottage. What will their relationship with the royal family look like once they’re back on the same side of the pond? We will find out soon enough.

Read Next: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are Teaming Up with Malala Yousafzai to Advocate for Girl’s Education

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