Filed under “Things we didn’t know were still a thing” is the news that almost a year after making her “Megxit” with husband Prince Harry from the United Kingdom and senior royal status, Meghan Markle, also known as the Duchess of Sussex, has “abandoned plans to become a UK citizen,” reports British news publication the Telegraph.
As CNN reported in late 2017, months before Markle married into the royal family in May 2018, she began the process of establishing citizenship in her new home, one that would prove inhospitable enough over the next two years for her and Harry to decide to relocate while the application was still pending. Reporting on how that development might interrupt the citizenship process, Harper’s Bazaar explained the following in November 2019:
The official government website states, “To apply as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen you must have lived in the UK for the last three years.” It was reported in November 2017 that Meghan had officially moved to London from Canada, ahead of her engagement to Prince Harry. If that was, in fact, the actual date the duchess moved to England, then she has lived in the UK for less than three years.
Further rules stipulate that an applicant must not have “spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the 3 years before your application,” or “spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months.” These rules could potentially make Meghan’s British citizenship application null and void, too.
As Marie Claire pointed out on Sunday, since Meghan departed the UK in January 2020 and has not returned since March of last year, when she attended the Commonwealth Day Service 2020 as the last of her royal duties, she has well exceeded the 90-day limit on out-of-country stays—in fact, presuming that November 2017 started the three-year residency clock, she wasn’t even close. Additionally, she and Harry haven’t only been absent from the United Kingdom but have officially taken up residence elsewhere in the year since leaving, first spending several months in Canada (where Meghan was based for seven years while filming her hit show Suits and reportedly left behind belongings after relocating, according to The Telegraph), and subsequently purchasing a home in Montecito, Calif.—as well as inking several lucrative deals that presumably necessitate the Sussexes remaining in the United States.
In that time, they also launched the Archewell Foundation, so named in tribute to 20-month-old son Archie. Shuttering the Sussex Royal website a year ago when they dropped the “royal” from their branding, the Guardian reminds us that the couple’s social media manager at the time promised that their online presence would continue in another, non-“royal” capacity, despite retaining their duke and duchess titles.
“Yes, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to have a social media platform,” read a response to an inquiry. “They look forward to continuing their use of social media and believe that their updated media approach will enable them to share more, with you, directly.”
Since Archewell has no social media presence or handles (though undoubtedly they’ve been secured), the Sussexes have apparently pivoted away from that decision, perhaps after Markle self-identified as “the most trolled person of 2019" (it’s also worth noting that prior to that, social media guidelines for Buckingham Palace were changed in response to online harassment and abuse of Markle and her sister-in-law Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
It’s now been a year since “Megxit” (made official by the more formally known “Sandringham Summit”) became an admittedly glib catchphrase for the very fraught departure of the Sussexes from Harry’s home country and financial dependence on the royal family—and by extension, the British taxpayers. As People reflected on the decision last week, sources told the outlet the couple does not regret making “a huge leap of faith to embark on their new life.” And for those still intent on blaming Meghan for Harry’s divestiture from “the Firm,” (as it is reportedly called by contemporary royals), a source close to the prince refutes that narrative.
“It was always their dream to be financially independent and pay their own way,” they told People. “Harry was finally doing what he’d wanted to do for years, and to have Meghan and [19-month-old son] Archie with him was all he could have asked for”
“To stay in the royal system is to go along with subservience to those more senior than you,” royal historian Robert Lacey agreed. “He has asserted his own identity.”