The Duke and Duchess of Sussex surprised many with the announcement, the decision implying groundbreaking changes for the future of the Royal Family
The British Royal Family once again are making headlines with the recent decision of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle to step down from their royal duties. In a post from their official Instagram account, the Duke and Duchess announced they want to focus on their growing family while attending to the launch of their “new charitable entity.” Though they will keep their titles and continue supporting Her Majesty The Queen, the surprising decision has many other implications. All eyes remain on the royal couple, seemingly monitoring their next move.
Implications of the decision
Apart from the Instagram post, the Buckingham Palace also released an official statement. It states how the discussions of the decision “will take time to work through.” It only makes sense as Prince Harry and Meghan’s announcement is reportedly not affiliated with the Queen nor with the senior royals in the family. It has come as a surprise yet with the stories probing into the life of Meghan whose background has been a heated topic of conversations, many already expected a major change like this to happen. But what does stepping back as “‘senior’ members of the Royal Family” truly mean?
Prince Harry and Meghan expressed an ardent desire to “become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.” British royals expert and historian Marlene Koenig explains the royal couple will no longer receive the 5% funding from the Sovereign Grant. The grant is the surrendered income of the Queen from the Crown Estate to the government. A portion of the public funds covers the work of the Royal Family, including the maintenance of official residences. The other 95% of funding is the income from Duchy of Cornwall that the HRH Prince of Wales allocates.
Without the Sovereign Grant, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex intend to earn professional income, which is prohibited from the present structure. Yet this does not mean cutting ties with the monarchy. On the contrary, they will continue supporting the works of Her Majesty the Queen as well as the couples’ respective patronages. However, this transition will certainly take time to consult with the Royal Family. After all, no other royalties have willingly done so in the past.
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Settling for autonomy
The financial autonomy also extends to the security of the royal couple and their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, no matter where they choose to reside. The subject of the residence came up from the statement mentioning how the royal couple wants to “balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America.” People have speculated they will settle in Canada where Meghan formerly resided and where they spent the recent holidays. Koenig believes it will be their second home base. Yet they will retain Frogmore Cottage as their official residence which remains the property of the Queen.
If they do settle in Canada, the British media may take the opportunity to further monitor the royal couple’s movements. But considering their recent private and undisturbed trips to the country, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may earn their much-desired privacy away from the condemning eyes of British tabloids.
Not the only precedents
Though the announcement surprised many, it is crucial to note Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are not the only royalties whose decisions and actions have made headlines in the past.
The 20th century witnessed a major constitutional crisis when Edward VIII stepped down from the throne to marry the divorced American actress Wallis Simpson. King George had once said, “After I am dead, the boy [Edward] will ruin himself within 12 months.” The prediction came close when Edward VIII’s reign lasted for only 324 days before resigning. The public expected it as politicians who worked with him claimed he was negligent with his duties and also had a habit of taking mistresses.
The topic of affairs and divorces did not die down from Edward VIII. Princess Margaret and husband Antony Armstrong-Jones divorced due to their respective alleged affairs. Reports claim Margaret was in a relationship with Roddy Llewellyn. He is a landscape gardener and aristocrat younger than her by almost two decades. The affair tainted the meaning of a “royal” as Margaret is the first senior royalty in 77 years who got divorced.
Last year, Prince Andrew was forced to step down from royal duties amidst a controversy. Allegations of sexual abuse and friendship with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein tarnished the prince’s name. Virginia Roberts Giuffre has come forward to reveal how she was among Epstein’s victims forced to have a sexual encounter with Prince Andrew. While the story develops, the fact remains that this is indeed a disgrace to the British Monarchy.
With all these controversies surrounding the Royal Family, it is no wonder the public and media continue to keep an eye on similar groundbreaking moments. No matter what happens in the next chapter of the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they ask everyone “until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”