It started out so well as their relationship bloomed, leading to a star-studded wedding and baby Archie, but unrelenting tabloid scrutiny took a toll.
LONDON — After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met through friends in July 2016, it didn't take long for the British tabloids to get wind of the relationship and shift into overdrive.Speculation mounted that the star of the TV legal drama "Suits" might be the one to finally tame the royal, who was known as much for his partying as his conservation work. But less than three months later, Harry issued a strongly worded statement, suggesting there had been "a line crossed" with some of the coverage."Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment," it said. "Some of this has been very public - the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments."But his entreaty did not stop the tabloids from documenting the pair's every move as Markle and Harry watched the Northern Lights in Norway, attended society weddings and were pictured kissing in public for the first time in May 2017 at the exclusive Coworth Park polo club, around 26 miles west of London.Four months later, Markle appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, speaking openly about their relationship for the first time."We're two people who are really happy and in love," she said.
Later that month, they were joined by Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada, where they made their first official public appearance together at a wheelchair tennis match.With marriage speculation mounting, it emerged that Harry had taken Markle to meet Queen Elizabeth II, whose permission they needed to tie the knot.Then, on Nov. 27, 2017, Prince Charles' office at Clarence House announced their engagement to be married at St. George's chapel in Windsor, a small town about 30 miles west of London. The pair revealed in a TV interview that Harry had proposed over a roast chicken.
Markle appeared to take to the royal role with ease, joining Harry at the Queen's traditional pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace that December, before joining the rest of the family on Christmas Day.The public also seemed enamored with the soon-to-be princess, flocking to see her at a series of public engagements across the U.K.At their first joint engagement with Harry's brother, William, and Kate, at a Royal Foundation forum in February 2018, Markle showed her support for the #MeToo and Time's Up campaigns during an on-stage question-and-answer session.
She would later be praised for her support of LGBTQ issues, which she said were about "human rights," and her support for educating the world's poorest girls.However, less than five days before their wedding, on May 19, 2018, Markle appealed for "understanding and respect" for her father, Thomas Markle, who was the subject of numerous tabloid stories. She later confirmed he would not be attending.But the wedding went off without a hitch. Celebrity guests, including Serena Williams, George Clooney and James Corden, looked on as they became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
After their wedding, crowds flocked to see them wherever they went, particularly in Australia where they conducted their first royal tour as a married couple.That October, Harry and Markle announced they were "very pleased" that they were expecting a baby in the spring of 2019.Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born on May 6, 2019, at the Portland Hospital in London after Markle went into labor in the early hours of the morning.Despite their happiness at becoming parents, rumors of a rift between Harry and William began to emerge. On June 20, the Sussexes confirmed they were separating from the Royal Foundation charity with William and Kate to start their own initiative, Sussex Royal.
Harry and Markle were criticized by some the next month when they broke convention at Archie's christening by not holding a private ceremony. They also decided not to announce Archie's godparents.They were also condemned in August for using private jets to travel to the south of France, which Harry later claimed was to ensure their safety.With press criticism mounting, Harry again rebuked the media in October for its coverage of Markle. The couple also announced it would take legal action against the Mail on Sunday and parent company Associated Newspapers for the "intrusive and unlawful" publication of one of her private letters.In a documentary about their trip to Africa, Harry revealed that he and his brother were on "different paths," and in November he and Markle confirmed they would not be spending Christmas with the Royal Family and instead would visit Canada.On Wednesday, shortly after their six-week stay in Canada, they announced they were stepping back as "senior" members of the Royal Family and are "working to become financially independent" and said they would split their time between the U.K. and North America.> View this post on Instagram“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 honour 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.” - The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on Jan 8, 2020 at 10:33am PST
Their groundbreaking decision took many by surprise, apparently including Buckingham Palace."Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage," a palace spokesperson said. "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."Where they will go or what they will do remain open questions, but whatever happens, the tabloids will likely not be far behind.