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(Video) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Drama: Everything to Know

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle surprised the British public — and multiple royal relatives, apparently — by announcing in January 2020 that they intended to “step back” from their duties as senior members of the royal family.

“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,” they wrote in an Instagram statement released on Wednesday. “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. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.”

They stated that their new lives would involve relocation to North America — for part of the time, anyway — after leaving son Archie in Canada under the care of Meghan’s friend Jessica Mulroney and a nanny following the family’s Christmas celebrations there. “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,” they added. “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.”

Harry and Meghan said that they “look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course” and will “continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties.”

The announcement, however, threw some of those “relevant parties” — including Harry’s older brother, Prince William, and grandmother Queen Elizabeth II — for a loop. One year after dropping the major bombshell, Harry asserted that he didn’t “blindside” the monarch with his choice to step down.

“I have too much respect for her,” he said during a March 2021 tell-all interview on CBS, one month after the pair’s departure from the royal family was made permanent.

During the sit-down, Harry explained that he and Meghan felt “a lack of support and lack of understanding” from The Firm, especially when it came to how they approached the British press and their takedowns of the couple.

“When you can see something happening in the same kind of way, anybody would ask for help, ask the system of which you are a part of, especially when you know there’s a relationship there, that they could help and share some truth or call the dogs off, whatever you want to call it. So, to receive no help at all and to be told continuously, ‘This is how it is. This is just how it is. We’ve all been through it,’” he said at the time. “It was like, ‘I need to do this for my family.’ This is not a surprise to anybody. It’s really sad that it’s gotten to this point, but I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s, and for Archie’s, as well, because I could see where this was headed.”

Scroll down to read more about all the drama that ensued following the couple’s step back:

Harry and Meghan’s Announcement

After the royal couple announced their transition in January 2020, a source confirmed to Us Weekly that they were forced to share the news early because The Sun was prepping a story on the same topic. A source previously told Us that Harry and Meghan issued the statement without the blessing of the queen. “It’s not that they didn’t care — it was a miscommunication,” the source said.

Buckingham Palace Responds

Hours after the announcement, Buckingham Palace issued its own statement. “Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” the palace said at the time. “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”

Agreement Reached

The queen announced in a statement that she and the couple had come to an agreement about their new roles, which will see Harry and Meghan lose their His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness titles and completely step down as working members of the royal family. “Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” the monarch said. “Harry, Meghan, and Archie will always be much-loved members of the family. I recognise 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.”

Buckingham Palace stared in a statement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they wish to repay the Sovereign Grant money that was spent on refurbishing Frogmore Cottage at the queen’s Windsor estate, which will remain their U.K. home.

The agreement will also see the couple keeping their patronages, except for Harry’s three military roles: Captain General Royal Marines, Royal Air Force: Squadron Leader, Small Ships and Diving, and Royal Naval Command: Commodore-in-Chief, ABC News reported.

Their transition period will be complete in spring 2020, but Harper’s Bazaar’s royal correspondent Omid Scobie reported that there is the option for the agreement to be reviewed in 2021.

Harry Speaks Out

Following the queen’s announcement regarding the couple’s new roles within the family — and the loss of their HRH titles — Prince Harry addressed his step back from senior royal duties for the first time at a dinner for supporters of his Sentebale charity in London.

“The U.K. is my home and a place that I love,” he told the room of supporters. “That will never change.” Harry, who is sixth in line for the British throne, then admitted that although he and Meghan were “hopeful” and “were here to serve” once they got married, things have changed. He admitted that the new arrangement “brings me great sadness” and the choice to step back was “not one I made lightly.”

The former military captain reassured the British people that his family is not “walking away” from them despite their change in duties and splitting time between two countries.

“Our hope was to serve the queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible,” he explained. “I’ve accepted this knowing that it doesn’t change who I am, or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had come to. That I would step my family back from all I have ever known to take a step forward into what I hope will be a more peaceful life.”

Harry Returns to Canada

Prince Harry returned to Vancouver Island, Canada, in January 2020 to reunite with Meghan and Archie, who’ve been in the country for more than a week without him. Harry was seen deboarding a plan that morning with a bag slung over his shoulder and dressed casually in cold-weather gear, including a beanie. The prince spent much of the day prior in London attending the 2020 U.K.-Africa Investment Summit while his wife was photographed out with Archie and their two dogs in Vancouver Island.

Leaning on Their Wives

A source told Us that William and Harry are utilizing “different coping mechanisms” as they deal with the fallout of their rift. “Harry’s more sensitive and emotional than William – he takes everything so personally. He can be rather impulsive at times,” the source told Us in February. “Harry wants the world to know that no one should suffer in silence, which is why he opened up about [his late mother] Princess Diana and going to therapy. Meghan is his rock. He first opened up to Meghan about the trauma he went through dealing with his mom’s death shortly after they met — it was during their trip to Africa.”

The insider noted that William is “a more logical thinker.”

“He doesn’t let things get to him, like Harry does. That’s not to say William has a heart of steel — he’s actually an incredibly loving and kind man, he just has a different way of dealing with emotions and is more level-headed than his brother,” the source said. “If William has a problem, he’ll talk to Kate about it. William confides in her about everything.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Drama: What to Know

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