It’s been nearly one year since Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex‘s shocking announcement that they were exiting the British royal family. Though it was clear that the royal couple were having some difficulty finding their balance as senior working royals, no one expected them to quit.
Since their final royal engagement in March, the Sussexes have made a new life in Santa Barbara, California, where they have purchased their first home together, signed a multi-million dollar Netflix deal, and have begun using their voices for change.
While royal fans and the U.K. press were stunned by Megxit, it looks like Prince Charles and Prince William didn’t see it coming either.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry told the royal family they were stuggling
Even before their revealing interviews in ITV’s Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, it was clear that the Sussexes were not quite finding their stride in royal life. Meghan had become a subject of racist and sexist ridicule in the British press, and though the pair had pressed forward with their duties, nothing they were doing ever seemed to be good enough.
Prince Harry reportedly spoke to his family constantly about his concerns, but he felt that his pleas fell on deaf ears. An insider explained to Daily Mail,
Meghan said Harry made it crystal clear that they could not function in good faith under the current system…and that if it wasn’t revised and updated to their liking, they would have no other choice than to break from the royal family. She said no one took his pleas seriously, so they had to take the issue into their own hands. This was about protecting the family and doing right by Princess Diana. She said the British tabloids have haunted Harry since childhood and should have been kicked out of the media pool long ago. The system is broken and Harry wanted to fix it. She said he needed to take a stand and now they are doing it together.
The British royal family thought they could help Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Though they couldn’t change the royal rules or traditions outright, the royals did try to help the Sussexes in their own way. In his new book Battle of Brothers, royal historian Robert Lacey explains that Queen Elizabeth II hoped the Sussexes would move to South Africa for some time.
“Her Majesty was aware of Meghan and Harry’s wish to live an ‘ordinary’ life, which had reminded her of the years she spent with Prince Philip in Malta,” Lacey explained. “She thought Johannesburg could be their Malta.”
Prince Charles and Prince William also tried to start discussions with the Sussexes. However, they were sidelined following the Prince Andrew BBC News Night scandal in Nov. 2019.
“Charles and William genuinely wanted to find a way forward for what the Sussexes were looking for and to support them in their discussions with the palace,” Nigel Cawthorne wrote in Prince Andrew, Epstein, and the Palace via Mail Online.
Prince Charles and Prince William didn’t think the Sussexes were serious about Megxit
Prince Charles and Prince William knew that the Sussexes needed a change, but Lacey argues that they never expected Meghan and Prince Harry to leave the royal fold.
“Harry had been talking to his father and brother,” Lacey told US Weekly. “Saying, ‘Look, we’ve come to the conclusion we quite like Canada. We’d like being on the side of the Atlantic. We think we want to stay here for a bit, but we think we can still say Royal.’” He added,
It was sort of offhand. They didn’t quite believe they were serious. It’s [like], ‘Put it down on writing paper or chap, you know, sends us an email and we’ll think about it.’ And we know this cause Harry himself and the other palaces have agreed that, like, this must have happened.
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