Royal split: What is Harry and Meghan's 'clean break' from royal family?

Royal split: What is Harry and Meghan's 'clean break' from royal family?
Copyright AP Photo/Tim Ireland, fileTim Ireland
By Lauren Chadwick
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Harry and Meghan are getting a clean break from the royal family, commentators said, as they analysed what lies ahead for the couple.


Prince Harry and Meghan will "no longer [be] working members of the Royal Family", Buckingham Palace said, in a surprise announcement that fuelled speculation about the state of affairs in the British royal family.

Headlines across British newspapers on Sunday described the royal schism as a "Megxit" as Harry and Meghan agreed to repay the £2.4 million (€2.8 million) to the UK government's Sovereign Grant for the refurbishment of their house and no longer use the HRH "his/her royal highness" styling for their titles.

Some observers previously said the couple wanted to be "half in and half out" but. instead, the pair are getting what's been described as a "clean break" from the royal family with no titles, no public funding and no military appointments.

But what does this transition mean and why is it happening?

What does the transition for Harry and Meghan mean?

The couple "will still retain the titles but they will not be allowed to use them," said royal biographer Penny Junor which will prevent them from "capitalising on their royal status".

Not losing the titles means that "if anything were to change", Harry and Meghan could be allowed to become working members of the royal family again.

They will remain the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but there are dukes that are not members of the royal family - which is why the title styling HRH is significant.

The Queen has previously removed "royal highness" titles. In 1996, she removed the styling from "former wives" of the royal family with the exception of widows.

That meant that Princess Diana was no longer referred to as her royal highness, a decision that was unpopular at the time.

"Harry and Meghan have actually done nothing disgraceful all they have done is say that they can’t put up the pressure with being royal," said Junor.

Harry will also be relinquishing military appointments including as captain-general of the royal marines but both he and Meghan will keep their personal patronages. Prince Harry will continue his work as founder of the Invictus Games, for instance.

But without Harry and Meghan, there could be a lot "more work to go around" forcing other members of the royal family to take over their royal engagements.

Why is this happening?

Harry and Meghan said earlier this month that they wanted to scale down their royal engagements and become "financially independent" in a monumental announcement that jumpstarted "crisis talks" in the family about their future roles.

The couple had previously spoken about the pressures of media attention with Meghan admitting that she was struggling in the spotlight.

In an October statement announcing legal action against select British tabloids, Harry said he had been "a silent witness to her private suffering for too long."

"The treatment of Meghan at the hands of sections of the media hasn’t just been ‘negative’ or ‘bad’ - it has been downright racist. That’s what should bring shame on our country, not so-called ‘Megxit’," Wes Streeting, a Labour MP tweeted in reaction to criticism from British presenter Piers Morgan.

"Only surprised it took her so long to get Harry to ditch his family, the Monarchy, the military and his country. What a piece of work," Morgan had tweeted.

But many observers have said British tabloid coverage of Meghan is racist, comparing what was said about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge and what has been said about Meghan.


"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 this society racism will still follow you," author Afua Hirsch wrote in a New York Times editorial piece.

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