The Duke and Duchess of Sussex—also known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—have just concluded several weeks out of the spotlight as they retreated to North America to celebrate the holidays. But their return came with a major announcement, via the Sussex Royal Instagram page: the duo has decided to “step back as ‘senior’ members” of the British monarchy.
The post, published on Wednesday afternoon and signed by “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” read:
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. 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. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. 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. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.
While this news will likely be welcome to those who feel oversaturated with Sussex drama—or who’d love to see the monarchy dissolve altogether—it’s a tremendous move for Harry and Meghan. The couple has ostensibly been besieged by both public scrutiny and tension within the royal family—not to mention Meghan’s paternal clan—since they began dating in 2016. That tension has reportedly only increased since their 2018 marriage and the subsequent birth of son Archie.
The decision to voluntarily step back and financially divest from the monarchy is a rarity among royals; one that further reinforces the Sussexes’ heretofore progressive approach to royal life and commitment to charitable causes. As for how they will gain financial independence, one could speculate about a return to acting for Markle, but we’re more tempted to look to the Obamas, who have more than successfully transitioned from public to (only slightly more) private life since leaving the White House. Without the constant constraints of being full-time members of the monarchy, who knows what new platforms the Sussexes may build?