Remember late 2016, when, faced with the reality of Trump’s not-so-great vision of America, many fantasized about an exodus to nearby Canada, led by a then-seemingly idyllic, pre-blackface-scandal Justin Trudeau? At the time, then-actress Meghan Markle was starring in Suits, a hit show shot in Toronto, and enjoying a new, unexpected romance with Prince Harry, sixth in line to the British throne.
Less than four years later, the Duchess of Sussex is proving you can go home again—even after marrying into the royal family. A mere three days since returning from an extended holiday in California and Canada to drop what was purported to be a bombshell announcement on a reportedly “hurt” royal family, a spokesperson for the couple confirms Harry will continue negotiations with his family solo, as Meghan has already returned to Canada.
That’s right. She’s out, y’all.
In fact, the couple clearly anticipated this quick turnaround, as 8-month-old son Archie stayed behind in Victoria, Canada, with his nanny and Markle’s close friend Jessica Mulroney while his parents returned to England, reports Harper’s Bazaar. And as for reports that the royal family was blindsided by the Sussexes’ decision to “step back” from their positions and obligations as “‘senior’ royals,” Bazaar also maintains:
Senior aides reveal that conversations about the couple’s future plans and ambitions had taken place internally “on all levels” for several months in the run-up to their so-called “bombshell” on January 8. It was information that the couple had planned to hold back from the media until logistics had been further fleshed out among households, but after their agenda was leaked to British tabloid The Sun, “they felt they had been cornered,” says a source close to the couple. “It was a case of act now or lose control of something they had spent a long time working on.”
Surprised, yes, but the royal reaction, says a high-ranking palace aide, was “far from the dramatic emotional response described by some—nobody was ‘incandescent with rage’ and nobody is about to punish anyone. The speed at which this now needs to be dealt with is not ideal, but the plans themselves are not a problem. This is not a ‘crisis,’ it’s a case of helping the couple reach their goal.”
Well, that’s something of a relief, since pretty much everything that has gone awry in the royal family within the past two years has been attributed to its most melanated member. (Seriously, the British press has even managed to guilt-trip her for 98-year-old Prince Philip’s reported “health crisis.”) And it’s additionally a relief since at least one tabloid—The Daily Mail, currently the defendants in a suit brought by the Sussexes—reports that since the couple’s announcement that they will eventually (but not immediately) be seeking “financial independence,” Scotland Yard is “to review Harry and Meghan’s security arrangements.” In fact, a former chief superintendent who led the Metropolitan Police’s royal protection unit claims their detail may “cost millions” if moved to North America.
In the same article, a Met Police spokesman stated: “We never discuss matters of security.”
The British press gonna British press (we guess), but as Bazaar reports, if all goes as planned, they’ll no longer have a monopoly on coverage of the Sussexes:
[T]he couple’s vision remains ambitious but achievable: create a new working model that allows them to blend a balanced mix of official duties in the name of the queen and their own independently funded philanthropic interests, which will be anchored by the forthcoming Sussex Royal foundation. This financial independence, which includes no longer taking from the government-funded Sovereign Grant, will allow the couple to choose charitable projects more freely and, says a source, “work at an uninterrupted pace that present conditions don’t allow.”
One change the couple have been keen to tackle is finally taking control of the coverage surrounding their work, which is currently ruled by the self-governed Royal Rota—a pool system that allows only British newspapers and tabloids to gain up-close access to their official engagements (other outlets are forced to remain in the dark). “The Cartel,” as the couple have come to know the group of royal correspondents, have been a longtime sticking point for the couple. “They saw the current model as outdated and in desperate need of change...It became clear that [for all types of] press, including foreign media and digital outlets, to have access to their work, they would have to self-fund their own engagements.”
While the Sussexes attempt to outmaneuver the media, the “Queen of All Media” has also weighed in, amid initial reports that she “advised” the royal couple on their retreat from full-time royal life. “Meg and Harry do not need my help figuring out what is best for them,” said Oprah, who both attended the Sussexes’ wedding and has partnered with Harry on a mental health series for Apple TV+, in a statement obtained by Page Six. She also stated: “I care about them both and support whatever decision they make for their family.”
According to Page Six, Oprah’s bestie, CBS host Gayle King will likely also score the first post-Megxit interview with the couple, with a source claiming: “It’s hush-hush, but there’s no one else they would turn to.”
In fact, Page Six reports that Oprah and Gayle are only a small part of the very well-heeled circle of friends likely extending support as the Sussexes take this unprecedented step, writing:
They’ve gathered a coterie of powerful US players, including the Obamas, George and Amal Clooney, Serena Williams, James Corden and Meghan’s designer pal Misha Nonoo, whose new husband, oil heir Michael Hess, has offered them a place to stay in one of the family’s three homes in the gated Malibu Colony—dubbed ‘Billionaire’s Beach’—we are told, although they are expected to make Canada their main base.
Will Canada—or even California—prove an effective long-term respite from not-so-jolly old England? Only the Sussexes can decide for themselves, but as Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, wrote for the New York Times on Thursday, the interracial couple’s desire to move their family from the United Kingdom is likely less surprising to its citizens of color.
If the media paid more attention to Britain’s communities of color, perhaps it would find the announcement far less surprising. With a new prime minister whose track record includes overtly racist statements, some of which would make even Donald Trump blush, a Brexit project linked to native nationalism and a desire to rid Britain of large numbers of immigrants, and an ever thickening loom of imperial nostalgia, many of us are also thinking about moving...
Those who claim frequent attacks against the duchess have nothing to do with her race have a hard time explaining these attempts to link her with particularly racialized forms of crime—terrorism and gang activity—as well as the fact that she has been most venomously attacked for acts that attracted praise when other royals did them...Her treatment has proved what many of us have always known: No matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you.
Since racism is also alive and thriving in North America, we’re assuming the royal couple doesn’t consider it a potential utopia, but as a friend told Bazaar: “They’re feeling confident...Harry and Meghan are aware that they’ll be criticized, perhaps even vilified, for taking control of their lives, but creating a positive future for themselves and their family has always been their priority.”