Harry and Meghan last night ‘pressed the nuclear button’ on their royal careers by announcing they are quitting their frontline roles.

Their dramatic decision was taken without the knowledge of the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William, who learnt about the announcement as it broke on television news channels.

The couple, who plan to split their time between Britain and North America, made the bombshell announcement just days after returning from a six-week break in Canada.

A senior royal source said the Queen and her family were ‘deeply disappointed’. Another said the royals were ‘shocked, saddened and downright furious’ at the couple.

In a terse statement, Buckingham Palace said: ‘Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work though.’

Well-placed sources made clear that the shock announcement was a personal statement and ‘members of the family were not consulted on the contents’.

One exasperated aide said: ‘People had bent over backwards for them. They were given the wedding they wanted, the house they wanted, the office they wanted, the money they wanted, the staff they wanted, the tours they wanted and had the backing of their family. What more did they want?’

Another royal source said: ‘It’s deeply unfair to the Queen who doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. It is a shoddy way to treat her. The family understands that they want to do something different and is perfectly willing to help them. People are just devastated.’

The Mail has been told the couple ‘secretly plotted’ their decision during their stay in Canada, even conspiring to create a new website independent of the Royal Family and ready to launch it when they returned. This was without the knowledge of their own loyal UK-based press team.

‘The level of deceit has been staggering and everyone from the top of the royal household to the bottom feels like they have been stabbed in the back,’ one source said.

The Queen is said to be furious at Harry and Meghan (pictured, at Canada House on January 7) as they step down as senior Royals

The Queen is said to be furious at Harry and Meghan (pictured, at Canada House on January 7) as they step down as senior Royals

The Queen (pictured at King's Lynn railway station on December 20) is said to be furious at Harry and Meghan as they step down as senior Royals

The Queen (pictured at King's Lynn railway station on December 20) is said to be furious at Harry and Meghan as they step down as senior Royals

The Queen (right at King’s Lynn railway station on December 20) is said to be furious at Harry and Meghan (left, at Canada House on January 7) as they step down as senior Royals 

Pictured: The statement from Buckingham Palace following Harry and Meghan's social media announcement that they would be stepping down from senior Royal duties

Pictured: The statement from Buckingham Palace following Harry and Meghan's social media announcement that they would be stepping down from senior Royal duties

Pictured: The statement from Buckingham Palace following Harry and Meghan’s social media announcement that they would be stepping down from senior Royal duties 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released this statement this evening announcing that they will be quitting as senior Royals

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released this statement this evening announcing that they will be quitting as senior Royals

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released this statement this evening announcing that they will be quitting as senior Royals 

It also emerged last night that:

  • Harry and Meghan want to be ‘financially independent’ and plan to earn their own income, which they say they are currently prevented from doing;
  • They will give up their right to money from the sovereign grant, but could still take money from Prince Charles;
  • They will retain their home at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor as a UK base;
  • They will also keep their police protection – funded by the taxpayer – and have offered to carry out a vastly reduced number of royal duties in Britain and elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

In their extraordinary statement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they wanted to ‘carve out a progressive new role’ and ‘step back as “senior” members of the Royal Family’.

They said they wanted to balance their time between the UK and North America, ‘continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages’.

The Duke and Duchess (pictured, yesterday at Canada House in London) were said to be looking at making the move across the Atlantic where they would be based for a significant part of the year. Rumours abounded before they confirmed this evening that they would be splitting their time between the UK and North America

The Duke and Duchess (pictured, yesterday at Canada House in London) were said to be looking at making the move across the Atlantic where they would be based for a significant part of the year. Rumours abounded before they confirmed this evening that they would be splitting their time between the UK and North America

The Duke and Duchess (pictured, yesterday at Canada House in London) were said to be looking at making the move across the Atlantic where they would be based for a significant part of the year. Rumours abounded before they confirmed this evening that they would be splitting their time between the UK and North America 

Former film and television actress and a keen lover of the arts, the Duchess of Sussex is pictured leaving the Dorfman Theatre - which is part of the National Theatre - in London surrounded by her entourage shortly before she and Harry announced they were stepping down

Former film and television actress and a keen lover of the arts, the Duchess of Sussex is pictured leaving the Dorfman Theatre - which is part of the National Theatre - in London surrounded by her entourage shortly before she and Harry announced they were stepping down

Former film and television actress and a keen lover of the arts, the Duchess of Sussex is pictured leaving the Dorfman Theatre – which is part of the National Theatre – in London surrounded by her entourage shortly before she and Harry announced they were stepping down 

The Mail understands that the couple raised their desire to seek out a new life a week ago and family members agreed to work with them in making it possible. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new life will be funded from their £34million private fortune 

By Terri-Ann Williams for MailOnline

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be walking away from an estimated £5.5 million in Royal funds after they announced they would be ‘stepping back’ from their duties as senior Royals in a bid to become ‘financially independent’.

But just how do the couple, who have an estimated combined net worth of £34 million, fund their lavish lifestyle which in the past has included their six-week Christmas break to Canada and solo trips to the US, such as when Meghan flew to America to watch Serena Williams play tennis.

In terms of what the couple receive from the Royal household, it is thought that the Queen gives around £2 million to Prince Harry from the Crown.  

Meghan and Harry (pictured above on Tuesday) have an estimated joint net worth of £34 million

Meghan and Harry (pictured above on Tuesday) have an estimated joint net worth of £34 million

Meghan and Harry (pictured above on Tuesday) have an estimated joint net worth of £34 million

Her Majesty pays Harry and William jointly £5 million from the £82 million annual Sovereign Grant, which is funded by the taxpayer, and handed to the most senior members of the royal family.

The royal couple will no longer receive funding from the Sovereign Grant, which they claimed covered just five per cent of costs for the pair and is specifically used for their official office expenses.

The £5 million from their grandmother the Queen is not broken down between the royal siblings – but William is believed to get slightly more so Harry and his family probably receive around £2 million from the Crown. 

The brothers also claim a further £3.16 million  a year in ‘non-official expenditure’ and is likely to be split in similar proportions. 

Another source of income for Prince Harry is his annual allowance from the profits generated his father’s £1.2 billion Duchy of Cornwall estate. Charles paid £4.9 million to his sons from that pot last year. 

The couple have significant personal wealth they could live on.

But hours after they had visited the Canadian High Commission in London to thank them for their recent hospitality, the pair decided to go public with their decision – pressing the nuclear button, as one source described it.

Negotiations are at such an early stage that the couple still have no idea where they are going to live in North America, although Canada is clearly the favoured option.

Harry and Meghan have, in the words of one aide, ‘no clue’ as to how they will become financially independent – although for the moment are insisting they will continue to take money from the Queen and the Prince of Wales to fund their official work.

Royals who have tried to go down this route include the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who were forced to give up their television production and PR careers after a series of scandals.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, who famously said they would go anywhere for a hot meal, and the Duchess of York, who made a string of disastrous business deals that led her to bankruptcy, have learned to their cost that it can be perilous balancing their privileged royal status with business matters.

Harry and Meghan have made no mention of giving up their royal titles or status and insist they will keep Frogmore Cottage, the home that was done up for them with £2.4million of public money. They will also keep their state-funded Metropolitan Police protection officers.

‘It’s a masterclass in wanting to have your cake and eat it,’ one royal insider raged. ‘Even their own staff cautioned against them making this public until they actually sat down and discussed it with the family properly.

‘But they are in this weird bubble and have this strange siege mentality. They feel like it’s them against the world and are painting a very unfair picture of how this is a family that supposedly doesn’t understand or support them, which is complete and utter rubbish.’

Another source said: ‘The family is perfectly willing to help them but this was a discussion better had discreetly and quietly. Why on earth they have put it out in the public domain is a decision only they can justify.

‘They have no idea where they are going to live, have no idea how they are going to make their money.

‘The feeling is one of deep disappointment that they have chosen to do this unilaterally and without prior warning or consultation. And no one believes it will actually help them to have these kind of conversations and discussions in public.

‘People understand they want to get things moving and there remains a desire to help them get this right but you do not turn 1,000 years of British royal history on its head in eight days.

‘They have got to start working with people. It’s hugely unfair to paint out that this is a fusty old institution that doesn’t want to help them. People have been bending over backwards looking at different ways of doing things.

‘But they have made clear they still want to be paid by the public purse for their work and they have to accept that things need to be thought through carefully.’ 

Piers Morgan says Meghan has ‘split Harry from William and has now split him from the Royals’ 

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan slammed Meghan as he blamed her for splitting up the Royal Family.

He railed against her, writing on Twitter: ‘People say I’m too critical of Meghan Markle – but she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William and has now split him from the Royal Family. I rest my case.’ 

Piers, who has had a long-running feud with Meghan since he accused the former Suits actress of ‘ghosting’ him, also referenced a quote attributed to Harry after the duke reportedly told Kensington Palace staff ‘what Meghan wants, Meghan gets’ as they prepared to move out in 2018. 

After their seismic falling out with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, followed by the decision to split their joint royal household, Harry and Meghan have battled to find their natural home within the Royal Family.

Sources say Harry told his grandmother more than a year ago that he and Meghan wanted to set up their own ‘court’ independent of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, while retaining funding from them.

The prince was firmly told that this outcome would not be possible and that no one was ‘bigger’ – or more important – than the Queen.

The couple sullenly agreed to set up their new ‘Sussex Royal’ household under the Buckingham Palace umbrella, but have long been branded by insiders as ‘awkward and childish’ for refusing to work harmoniously alongside other members of the Royal Family. ‘The writing was on the wall a long time ago,’ said one source with knowledge of the situation last night.

The couple’s move follows weeks of speculation about their future after they took an extended break from royal duties over the festive period that followed an emotional appearance in a documentary.

In the ITV programme they spoke about the pressures they have been facing and family rifts, and in a separate move Harry issued a damning statement against the media accusing sections of the press of bullying his wife.  

Harry and Meghan have only recently returned from their six-week break spent in the Canadian province of British Columbia with their eight-month-old son Archie.

Their first royal engagement of the new decade was to visit Canada’s High Commission in central London to thank Canadians in person for the warmth of the welcome they received.

It is likely they will be spending their time in the Commonwealth country when not in UK and may travel to America, Meghan’s homeland and where her mother lives.

Any move to Canada, even for a period of the year, would throw up important questions about Meghan and Harry’s long-term future within the royal family.

Meghan, a former actress, lived and worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama Suits, and the couple were famously pictured together when Meghan joined her then-boyfriend Harry at the 2017 Invictus Games in the city.

The cost of security for the couple would also be an issue, and as Canada is a realm, a country where the Queen is head of state, it may have to pay for keeping the couple and their son Archie safe.

The couple’s aim to be ‘financially independent’ may point towards them seeking a job, or a paid role with an organisation whose aims compliment their own beliefs.

Other members of the monarchy who have salaried jobs include the Queen’s grandchildren Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Peter Phillips, who all work for a living.

But the lows included rows over privacy, rifts with relatives, the launch of legal action and an attack on the press which overshadowed an official royal tour.

Even the Queen in her Christmas Day address spoke of the ‘bumpy’ path her family and the nation had experienced.

Harry and Meghan’s statement announcing their decision soon after their return from a six-week break in Canada refers to their ‘many months of reflection and internal discussions’.     

WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG: That glorious wedding captivated the world – but from the festering debacle over Meghan’s father to the fracturing of the Fab Four, the facade soon began to crumble, as revealed by the Mail’s peerless RICHARD KAY

Not even 20 months have passed since that magical day when they stood on the steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor and, with a kiss, enchanted a global audience of millions.

The wedding of Harry and Meghan was a love letter from Britain to the world, from the blue skies over a fairytale castle to the gospel choir and a carriage drive through streets thronged with cheering admirers.

This was a moment to savour, the grandson of the Queen marrying a mixed heritage young woman descended from slaves. But it was also about the fulfilment of a nation’s dreams for a prince, who was fixed in the collective national memory as a 12-year-old following his mother’s coffin.

Tragically, the shared happiness was misplaced. Harry and Meghan were not just a couple who wanted to embrace both modernity and tradition; they were bent on re-writing the rule book of what being a member of the Royal Family actually means.

Pictured: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to view a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) on July 10, 2018

Pictured: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to view a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) on July 10, 2018

Pictured: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to view a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) on July 10, 2018 

We should perhaps have realised; after all, the manner in which the duchess’s father was ruthlessly excluded from the ceremony went beyond mere discourtesy.

At the time, the failure of Thomas Markle to give his daughter away was blamed squarely on his own foolishness.

Nor was much made of the absence of many of Harry’s oldest friends, the mates who had stuck by him through thick and thin. In their place came a new set of chums, megawatt celebrities who had not been around when he was at his lowest ebb, but who would add a glamorous touch of stardust to proceedings.

The tragedy of Harry and Meghan is that they could have been life-long royal heroes. The Prince himself was already much loved, second only to the Queen in popularity.

From seeing action on the front line in Afghanistan not once but twice, and from which he had emerged unscathed, Harry had won over those sceptical about his party prince reputation.

Family fortunes: Smiles at Sandringham for the Fab Four, but the group soon began to crumble after Meghan and Harry wed

Family fortunes: Smiles at Sandringham for the Fab Four, but the group soon began to crumble after Meghan and Harry wed

Family fortunes: Smiles at Sandringham for the Fab Four, but the group soon began to crumble after Meghan and Harry wed

After the Army, affection for him soared following his triumphant visit to the Caribbean, where he posed with another superstar, the Olympic athlete Usain Bolt.

If elder brother William represented the dutiful if dull side of royalty, Harry was the fun side. He was open and amusing, taking everything in his stride. All he needed was to find the love of a good woman and his happiness — and ours — would be complete.

His romantic path had been strewn if not with broken hearts then certainly with trepidation. Before Meghan, he had wooed and lost two other beauties — Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas —who valued a life out of the limelight, rather than marriage and the goldfish bowl of royal attention.

Pictured: Meghan and Harry in South Africa last year

Pictured: Meghan and Harry in South Africa last year

Pictured: Meghan and Harry in South Africa last year

In Meghan he found a soulmate who had at least experienced life in the spotlight. This, they both hoped, would provide an understanding for their future together.

But if anything this understanding has served to drive them apart from the very institution they say they want to support. It has led to William and Harry, once the closest of brothers, being alienated from one another, and to a series of ill-judged interventions that have provoked bafflement and, yes, even resentment.

Their preaching to ordinary people about how they should lead their lives — particularly about climate change — and what has come to be seen as a drip, drip, drip of complaints about how they are treated, has led to a real disconnect. Who would have thought that in recent times the mere mention of Harry and Meghan’s names at Buckingham Palace would lead some of the Queen’s most loyal courtiers to wrinkle their noses and pull a face.

The rot set in even before the glow of that May wedding day had passed. Shortly after returning from honeymoon, Meghan was asked by a younger member of the family how it had gone and, more to the point, where they had gone. ‘We’re not telling anyone,’ the new Duchess of Sussex smiled. Was this merely a symptom of someone still adjusting to royal life, or someone who was not about to make any compromises about their privacy?

It was not long before the Markle debacle over Meghan’s father was again rearing its head. A sweet but naïve figure, Thomas Markle did not help himself with his sudden fascination for giving interviews about his famous daughter.

But here was a man of limited resources suddenly thrust onto a global stage, unsure of protocol and stumbling from one misadventure to another.

Sympathy, at first, was with his daughter, but questions were soon asked about her and Harry’s duty of care towards him. In fact, the seeds of this family fall-out which, I believe, has shaped the way Harry and Meghan are now, were sown through their own casual ineptness.

They should never have allowed Markle to fall into the clutches of the paparazzi with his admittedly crass stunted pictures before the wedding. Why did no one from Harry’s office — or indeed Prince Charles’s — fly to Mexico, where the retired lighting director lived in genteel if reduced circumstances?

He should have been flown to Britain, housed in any number of royal residences, dressed and presented to the world on his daughter’s wedding day.

This lack of care inevitably led to another unseemly domestic outcome — the behaviour of Meghan’s extended family. As unattractive as they undoubtedly were, there was no doubt they had a point when they railed about the duchess’s treatment of her divorced father. Certainly it compared unfavourably with the kidgloves handling of Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, who played a prominent part in her daughter’s wedding.

Even so, many were prepared to cut Meghan some slack, pointing out how hard many young women — particularly Harry’s mother, Diana, had found royal life.

But revelations about the duchess’s apparently high-handed manner were causing unease. It emerged that there had been a row between Harry and one of the Queen’s closest aides over the tiara the duchess wanted to wear at her wedding. Several tiaras had been considered, but the Queen did not want to lend the one Meghan preferred. Words were exchanged and Harry backed down.

Meanwhile, it emerged that Meghan had complained about the mustiness of St George’s chapel and wanted it sprayed with air freshener before the ceremony. This was a young woman who was clearly not going to accept her position quietly.

There was further trouble over the bridesmaids’ dresses, which was an early sign of the great tensions to come. It was reported that Meghan had reduced Kate, her soon-to-be sister-in-law, to tears, because of her manner. Weddings, of course, often lead to domestic tensions but are usually forgotten afterwards. With Harry and Meghan, they just increased.

Meghan’s decision to hold an extravagant baby shower in New York didn’t just shock people, it offended them, too. What possible justification could there be for the private jets — no matter who picked up the bill — as well as luxury hotels, lavish parties and expensive baby gifts?

It was the kind of look associated with the Kardashians, not the Windsors. Then came the biggest shock of all — the secrecy over the birth of baby Archie. Here, not just tradition but common sense was upended. They announced there would be no bulletins on when or where the baby would be born, no traditional photograph and they even declined to say who was in charge of delivery.

This didn’t just upset royal fans but the Royal Family, too. For generations, the births of those close to the throne have been proclaimed on a notice placed just inside the railings of Buckingham Palace. It always includes the names of the doctors in attendance.

Harry and Meghan simply ignored protocol and did it their way. While touching it undoubtedly was as Harry spoke of his pride and joy, the moment was riven with controversy. As for the birth, they cackhandedly arranged for a statement saying Meghan had gone into labour to be issued after the baby had actually been born.

But the real insult came when baby Archie’s christening was shrouded in secrecy. The couple refused to say who the godparents were, and when photographs did appear the infant’s face was largely obscured.

Some may see this as unnecessary carping about a couple who want to ensure their son is not brought up in the royal way, but has the privacy that was denied Harry and William as they grew up. Others suggest that all they were really doing was weaponising their family in their battles for privacy.

Meanwhile, the ‘fab four’, as the royal brothers and their wives had been dubbed, was no more. Harry and Meghan moved to Windsor, separated his office from William’s and split from their highly successful charity, the Royal Foundation .

This was not just a change in direction but a unilateral declaration of independence. Nothing illustrated this more than their decision to give an interview to ITV while on a royal tour of southern Africa last autumn. It was a mistake of historic proportions. Standing against a backdrop of some of the most deprived regions on earth, they complained to the camera about their lot.

At the same time Harry’s comments triggered another wave of disbelief. Questioned about his relationship with William he confirmed what until then had been mere tittle tattle: that the once whisper-close brothers had fallen out. How much this domestic heartache is at the centre of the Sussexes’s bombshell is not yet clear. But the repercussion are going to echo for a long time to come. 

Harry and Meghan’s bitter parting blast at British media 

By Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent for the Daily Mail 

Harry and Meghan last night aimed another blast at the British media and what they call its ‘misreporting’. They announced they would be withdrawing from the ‘royal rota’ system, which allows British newspaper, television and radio organisations to cover their work in recognition of the monarchy being a publicly-funded organisation.

UK media are currently entitled to cover their engagements in an impartial manner without control from royal officials.

The couple say they now intend to offer access to specially-invited media and dispense news via their own official communications and social media channels.

Harry and Meghan released a statement accompanied with this picture on their official Instagram account in which they today revealed that they will be stepping down as senior royals

Harry and Meghan released a statement accompanied with this picture on their official Instagram account in which they today revealed that they will be stepping down as senior royals

Harry and Meghan released a statement accompanied with this picture on their official Instagram account in which they today revealed that they will be stepping down as senior royals 

On their new website, sussexroyal.com, the duke and duchess said they believe this policy will reflect ‘both their forthcoming independence as members of the Royal Family’ and their wish to ‘reshape and broaden access to their work’.

They also attacked the British media’s body of royal correspondents, claiming: ‘Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by royal correspondents are also often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions.’

Harry and Meghan cited their work with publications such as Time Magazine, National Geographic and British Vogue as examples of how they still believe in a ‘free, strong and open media industry’.

They added: ‘Their Royal Highnesses recognise that their roles as members of the Royal Family are subject to interest, and they welcome accurate and honest media reporting, as well as being held to account if appropriate. Equally, like every member of society, they also value privacy as individuals and as a family.’

The couple also said they hoped their decision to release photographs and information on their own social media would prevent publications from ‘profiting’ from their family.

It is not the first time that the duke and duchess have hit out at the British media.

In October last year, while they were on a royal tour of southern Africa, Harry attacked newspaper stories about him and his wife. The prince said: ‘Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.’

Referring to Press coverage of his mother, Princess Diana, before her 1997 death in a Paris car crash while being pursued by paparazzi, the duke said his ‘deepest fear is history repeating itself’. He wrote: ‘I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.’ 

Immune to their privilege. Wrapped up in themselves. And, sadly, throwing in the towel so soon… SARAH VINE asks: ‘Whatever happened to the enchanting happy couple we all fell in love with?’

'For months now, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have had the look of two people who would rather suck lemons than continue to be an active part of the Royal Family', writes Sarah Vine

'For months now, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have had the look of two people who would rather suck lemons than continue to be an active part of the Royal Family', writes Sarah Vine

‘For months now, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have had the look of two people who would rather suck lemons than continue to be an active part of the Royal Family’, writes Sarah Vine

Well, that was about as much of a surprise as a drunk uncle at a wedding. For months now, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have had the look of two people who would rather suck lemons than continue to be an active part of the Royal Family.

Frankly, it’s a surprise they’ve lasted this long. That said, I’m very sad to see them go. And so soon. It feels like they’ve barely got stuck in, hardly had a chance to understand what the job really entails before handing in their resignation.

It’s almost as though they never really had any intention of trying to stick it out at all, as though right from the start the notion was always there in the back of their minds that if life as Duke and Duchess didn’t live up to expectation, they would simply leave.

Being a part of the Royal Family is not easy. It may carry all the trappings of privilege, but there is a hefty price to pay. It takes determination and a deep-rooted sense of duty to withstand both the scrutiny and expectations of the British public and press. A strong backbone and a thick skin are just as vital as an elegant wave.

Successive generations of royals have had to learn these lessons in their own way. None – not even the Queen – have been immune to the pressures that come with such a rarefied existence. The personal sacrifices that have to be made can be hard to bear, all the more so because they have to be borne in private.

And yet, for those who endure, the rewards are great. Not just the undying love and respect of the British people, but also a chance to pursue one’s passions and really make a difference where it matters. Both Prince Charles and Prince William have battled their own demons, and risen finally to the challenge.

Which is why it’s all the more unsettling to see Harry – once the rumbustious soldier, never afraid of getting stuck in among the lads – flying the white flag so early on in the struggle.

I suppose there is a kind of courage in knowing when you’ve had enough, and in that respect Harry has been clear. But, in truth, it’s not entirely obvious what has driven him to such a conclusion: was the £2.4million taxpayer-funded refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage not lavish enough? The outpouring of affection at their multi-million-pound wedding insufficiently fawning? The Queen’s repeated invitations to stay – rebuffed more than once – not hospitable enough?

It’s almost as though nothing matters to this couple apart from their own immediate happiness and gratification, as though they are incapable of seeing beyond their own little bubble of privilege.

It has often been speculated as to whether they might end up walking away from Britain, but the timing of this announcement could hardly be more insensitive, or more indicative of how little either seems to understand the true nature of their roles as Royals.

Prince Philip has only just come out of hospital. The Yorks are still weathering a storm of scandal. In the wider world, Britain’s forces stand in peril in the Middle East. Yet this is the moment they choose to walk away – and without telling the Queen.

Yet for all that, my reaction to this story is more sadness than anger. Especially when you think back to how happy we all were when Harry finally found his bride, how excited we were to share in his delight.

That little lost boy deprived of his mother had had it rough, not helped by the pain that a bitter parental divorce can bring.

All those years of drunken escapades, Nazi uniforms, strip billiards in Vegas, fleeting Sloaney girlfriends – they all melted away when it became clear that Harry had found a woman he felt could be his own rock to cling on to in a turbulent life.

For all those reasons, the nation invested such hope in their union – one which also provided an incredible opportunity to breathe fresh life into the institution of royalty.

Here was a beautiful, successful, independent young woman from a mixed-race background who had made her own way in life against considerable odds, and whose ambition and ability were an inspiration to so many.

But there is a big difference between being a famous soap actress and a member of the Royal Family, and grasping that distinction is something Meghan has clearly struggled with.

For a minor Hollywood celebrity, she has always seemed curiously ill-at-ease with the public nature of her role as royal consort, uncomfortable with the proprietorial nature of the deal.

Now, for whatever reason, Harry seems to have been distanced from his own family in the same way Meghan extracted herself from much of her own, and also walked away from her first husband.

That said, let’s be clear: while the temptation is to blame Meghan for the couple’s decision to walk away, in truth the ultimate responsibility lies with Harry.

Meghan at least has the excuse that she was not born to this role, that she had no previous experience, that she could not have ever truly known how it would turn out. He, by contrast, knew exactly what he was letting her in for.

Harry’s own struggles before he met Meghan may have played some part in his choice of bride. Had he married a more conventional woman, a member of the British upper classes, he would never have had the chance to escape the institution that, in his heart of hearts, he still blames for the loss of his mother. In some ways, Meghan is for Harry the ultimate excuse for an opt-out. She may be the catalyst, but she’s not the cause.

It also, perhaps, explains why he has, time and again, ridden to her defence so passionately. Through her, he has seized the chance to hit back at all the injustices he perceives as having persecuted his late mother, to do for Meghan what as a young boy he could never do for Diana.

On a more straightforward level, to see someone you love judged because of who and what you stand for is so very hard, especially when you have no say in the matter.

Harry was raised to this life, he did not choose it; he has, for all his faults, endured great personal suffering because of it. And to have to stand by and watch it make the woman he loves so clearly unhappy must be agonising.

It is this, I think, that explains his decision. And also, looking back over the past 18 months, his gradual detachment from his family – his brother William, to whom he has always been so close, his father Charles – and some of his oldest friends.

And at the very least he could have warned them of his sudden departure plans. Fired up with a determination to make a success of his marriage at all costs, to succeed where his father failed, he has turned his back on so much of what made him.

It is also why, since he married Meghan, we have witnessed the birth of a new Harry, one shaped less in the image of his own family and more in the mould of Meghan and her fashionable and wealthy international circle.

The woke, somewhat humourless and very entitled Harry we see before us now is almost unrecognisable as the fellow we knew and loved.

Of course, people grow up, they change. We can’t forever expect him to be happy-go-lucky Harry. But still, it’s quite a transformation. And so it’s goodbye Windsor, hello Winnipeg, or whatever corner of North America where they feel most at home. What else is there to say, save to offer our best hopes for happiness with their son. And perhaps to add: be careful what you wish for. 

Their very starry new social circle: From the Clooneys to Oprah, ALISON BOSHOFF reveals the not-so regal A-list celebrity set who’ll welcome them with open arms

Best friends: Meghan Markle with Jessica Mulroney

Best friends: Meghan Markle with Jessica Mulroney

Best friends: Meghan Markle with Jessica Mulroney

Starting at their wedding in May 2018 – which featured a startling number of celebrity pals of the bride – it was abundantly clear that the Sussexes were forging a starry new social circle, away from stuffier royal circles and Harry’s old school and Army pals.

The friends with whom they will be spending more time and, quite possibly, striking high-profile media deals, are the image of what Harry and Meghan want to become.

They are super-successful career-minded sophisticates, based internationally, who have both giant incomes and impressive portfolios of charity work.

Oprah Winfrey – who it appears had barely met Meghan in 2018 (although she had done yoga on her lawn with Meghan’s mum Doria) – has already snagged Harry to contribute to an Apple TV documentary about mental health.

Maybe she will be a conduit for further lucrative media work for the couple as they strive to gain that ‘financial independence’ of the statement. Certainly, she remains the ‘Queen’ in America, where she has a $340million fortune and her own TV network and is generally rated as the most influential woman in media.

Meghan is also very close to Oprah’s best friend and confidante Gayle King, a TV news anchor with CBS. Gayle spent time with the couple at Frogmore as they awaited the birth of Archie. She was among the invited few who came to that baby shower in New York – an event which, curiously, Meghan’s mother did not attend. She will be well placed to smooth their path into any media outlet you could name and there will be no shortage of others to advise them.

So who are the starry bunch who will be sustaining them on this journey out of the Royal Family and into the sparkling if shallow waters of Hollywood, Toronto and all points West?

Meghan and Harry have made it their business to befriend only those with impeccable political and social credentials. No dodgy oligarchs for them.

Barack and Michelle Obama are friends. The former president and his wife hold them in dear esteem and Michelle met up with Meghan while she was in the UK to promote her autobiography, Becoming, last year.

Mrs Obama was reportedly ‘instrumental’ in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s romance – although it’s not clear quite what part she played.

The Obamas and the Prince were first brought together by the Invictus Games, created by Harry for injured, sick or disabled military personnel and veterans.

Wedding guests: The Clooneys

Wedding guests: The Clooneys

Wedding guests: Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian

Wedding guests: Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian

Wedding guests: The Clooneys, and Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian will be among the star-studded set who welcome the Sussexes 

At the second Games in Florida in 2016, Michelle took part in numerous events and said of Harry: ‘He truly is Prince Charming’. In return, the Prince lent support to her ‘Full Effect’ education programme for under-privileged teenagers.

GEORGE AND AMAL Clooney attended the royal wedding in May 2018. It seems that it is barrister Amal, who grew up in Buckinghamshire, who fostered the friendship after being introduced to Meghan by mutual friends at the exclusive London private members club, Soho House. She has since opened her contacts book to Meghan, recommending everyone from hair stylists to interior designers and key staff members. In August 2018, the pair spent a long weekend with actor George and Amal at the Clooneys holiday home on Lake Como, Italy.

Perhaps more surprising is the inclusion of David and Victoria Beckham, actor, comedian and chat show host James Corden and his wife Julia, and fashion designer Misha Nonoo and her billionaire oil heir husband Mike Hess. This new social landscape took shape in 2018 when Prince Harry and Meghan based themselves in a rented house in Oxfordshire.

Meghan’s close friends, the tennis star Serena Williams, and the Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, were entertained at Soho Farmhouse by the couple.

They also saw Jessica Mulroney, Meghan’s best friend for years and sometime stylist. She is based in Toronto and it is here that the Royal couple are expected to buy a temporary base.

Pre-Harry, Meghan spent many weekends in Toronto enjoying family time with her and her husband Ben, a TV anchor, and son of the former Canadian PM. Their children John, Brian, and Ivy were among the page boys and flower girls at the Royal wedding and regard Meghan as an honorary aunt.

Meghan’s best friend, Markus Anderson, who works for the Soho House group, remains a key member of the Duchess’s ‘support team’ and regularly socialises with the Royal couple.

It was Anderson who invited her to join Soho House in Toronto four years ago when she was a little known TV actress based there and he facilitated all of Harry and Meghan’s early dates at Soho Houses in London and in Oxfordshire. He also arranged her low-key hen weekend celebrations – at Soho Farmhouse of course –and persuaded the pair to attend the boozy launch of the new Soho House in Amsterdam.

Markus is also very good friends with New York-based fashion designer Misha Nonoo, who is said to have introduced the couple to each other. She and Harry went to Misha’s wedding.

The royal couple are also close to James Corden and his wife Julia. James made a speech at the eoyal wedding dressed as King Henry VIII, at the reception. Julia now has a new job running the interior design company Charles & Co with Vicky Charles, who used to oversee all Soho House interior design. She is said to have lent her touch to the Sussexes’ house at Frogmore.

Advice on bicontinental living and its complexities can be offered by the Beckhams, who spend time in LA where they used to live, and Miami where David has a football team, as well as having a barn conversion just around the corner from Soho Farmhouse.

Harry is particularly close to the former footballer whom he has known for years through charitable causes, while fashion designer Victoria has become a huge fan of Meghan’s. The entire Beckham clan went to Australia to support Harry at the Invictus Games – for which David is an ambassador – in Sydney.

Other friends include Stella McCartney, another Soho Farmhouse regular, often with her young family in tow.

Meghan has passed through her professional life forging and, if necessary, dropping various friends.

The broadcaster Piers Morgan was once a contact and recipient of her charm when she was a relative nobody on Suits. After she met Harry, he was dropped. Socialite Lizzy Cundy was introduced to her at a charity event pre-Harry: Lizzy says that they were friends but that she too was sent into social Siberia once starrier prospects hove into view.

And the story has been repeated. Others who have proved not quite Meghan’s cup of chai soy latte are Harry’s old crowd of drinking buddies like Guy Pelly, Tom and Lara Inskip and Astrid Harbord. Friends in this set were grumbling last summer that they ‘never saw Harry any more. ‘He’s even thought to have given up shooting under the influence of Meghan, which put him firmly out of those circles in any case. They will surely see even less of him now.

How will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live in Canada? Couple could lose £2m from Royal purse each year – but British taxpayers face picking up ‘£600,000 annual security bill’ 

By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter for MailOnline and Ed Riley for MailOnline

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could lose £2 million-a-year from the Royal purse after they announced they would be ‘stepping back’ from being senior members of the royal family.

Despite the couple having announced they would be splitting their time between North America and the UK, British tax payers could still be picking up a £600,000 annual security bill for the pair and their son baby Archie.

The couple recently returned from a six-week break in Canada over the festive period, where they spent their first Christmas together as a family at a £10.7million home in Vancouver Island.

Just last night it was revealed that the couple had started discussing their plans with senior royals — expected to include the Queen and Prince Charles, but the Palace told MailOnline that they would not comment on ‘speculation.’ 

This evening the couple took to Instagram where they shared the announcement, along with a picture of the pair smiling. 

They snubbed a royal Christmas at Sandringham just days after Prince Philip was taken to hospital, and instead spent time with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland at the luxury retreat.  

ITV News at Ten host Tom Bradby, close friends with the couple, told Good Morning Britain today that it was ‘no big secret’ that they have been considering what their future roles within the royal family will be. 

The move – dismissed as ‘speculation’ by the Palace – comes after a tough year for the couple, with royal insiders saying they felt sidelined by the monarchy, as they launched attacks on the British press and faced criticism over their use of private jets.

They first sparked claims they could be about to step out of the spotlight when they revealed to Bradby in an ITV documentary that they are struggling with the intense media scrutiny they face on a daily basis. 

But if they did move to Canada, how will it work? Will the British taxpayer continue to fund their lifestyle, who picks up the bill for security, and would they step back from their royal duties altogether?

Here MailOnline looks at the move abroad and what it means to Canada, the UK and the royal family itself.

The family spent Christmas in Canada and Harry posed for a picture with his little boy Archie, who the couple have said they will raise with a respect for the tradition into which he was born

The family spent Christmas in Canada and Harry posed for a picture with his little boy Archie, who the couple have said they will raise with a respect for the tradition into which he was born

The family spent Christmas in Canada and Harry posed for a picture with his little boy Archie, who the couple have said they will raise with a respect for the tradition into which he was born 

If they move to Canada, where will they live – and how much is it likely to cost?

Harry and Meghan would naturally be drawn to Toronto, the city where they enjoyed a secret courtship of five months before their relationship was revealed to the world in October 2016.

Harry and Meghan’s statement in full: 

‘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.’ 

Meghan, who was born and raised in California, considered it her home town after filming seven series of Suits there and openly says Canada is her ‘second home’ after Britain. 

The couple recently spent more than £2.4million of taxpayers’ money refurbishing their Frogmore Cottage home – and buying a property of a similar standard in a Canadian city would cost significantly more.

Frogmore House was a gift from the Queen – but any Canadian home would likely be paid from their own pocket. 

Harry first met her in May 2016 when he was in Toronto to promote his Invictus Games for wounded servicemen and met the divorcee actress, who had split with her chef boyfriend of two years, Cory Vitiello. 

While he was there blind date after being set up by a female friend, believed to be fashion designer Mischa Nonoo, and they ‘met for a drink’ in a Toronto bar.

They then spent the rest of 2016 meeting almost every fortnight, with Harry secretly flying to see her as she couldn’t leave the city because of her Suits commitments.   They were holed up together in her flat with her dog Bogart and lived, largely, like a royal couple.

Describing their relationship, Harry has said: ‘I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly… All the stars were aligned – everything was just perfect. It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life – I fell into her life.’

But there decision to head to Vancouver, rather than Toronto, for Christmas as a family could also be telling. Harry, Meghan and baby Archie enjoyed all the luxuries on offer at a £10.7million waterfront mansion in one of the most idyllic spots on Vancouver Island – and are even believed to have taken their two dogs over with them, too. 

The £10million property where Meghan and Harry spent six weeks over Christmas and New Year

The £10million property where Meghan and Harry spent six weeks over Christmas and New Year

The £10million property where Meghan and Harry spent six weeks over Christmas and New Year

They were also seen out hiking locally with friends, including actress Abigail Spencer, a friend of former actress Meghan’s from her days on the television drama Suits, with Meghan even offering to take a picture for one stunned couple they met who were struggling with their selfie stick.

They also posted a picture on Instagram of a delighted Harry holding his son, Archie, taken during their holiday to the delight of fans on New Year’s Eve.

Vancouver also has a high ‘hipster’ and in 2018 Goop, the controversial lifestyle brand founded by Gwyneth Paltrow, held its annual ‘wellness summit’ in the city with meditation sessions, workouts, and yoga classes, a pursuit loved by Meghan.

Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada for cost of living – and the luxury they are used in the United States will cost them millions of pounds. Toronto is the second most expensive.

Will they keep security? If so who will pay?

Harry, Meghan and Archie are understood to have up to six permanent Metropolitan Police bodyguards, funded by the taxpayer.

The officers are estimated to earn more than £100,000 a year including overtime. 

But when Harry was visiting Meghan in the early stages of their relationship, the security officers seen with him outside her apartment were thought to be Canadian, and therefore funded by Canadian taxpayers. 

Whoever pays, the Sussexes would require police protection for the rest of their lives. 

Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline that a move abroad would be a ‘huge undertaking’ and the security costs would be vast.

Harry, Meghan and Archie are understood to have up to six permanent Metropolitan Police bodyguards, funded by the taxpayer. The officers (pictured) are estimated to earn more than £100,000 a year including overtime

Harry, Meghan and Archie are understood to have up to six permanent Metropolitan Police bodyguards, funded by the taxpayer. The officers (pictured) are estimated to earn more than £100,000 a year including overtime

Harry, Meghan and Archie are understood to have up to six permanent Metropolitan Police bodyguards, funded by the taxpayer. The officers (pictured) are estimated to earn more than £100,000 a year including overtime

He said: ‘The speculation that they could withdraw from public life has been going for some time.

‘It was given even more substance by that unwise documentary they gave where they spoke about the pressures they felt in the royal family. 

‘But Harry has a duty to the Queen. 

‘Moving abroad is a huge undertaking, they will have to find a location that wants you, the security costs would be vast and impossible to estimate.’    

How would the Duke and Duchess survive financially and will Harry keep his allowances if the leave the country but remains part of the royal family?

It would be an unprecedented moment – but it is unlikely the Queen, or his father Prince Charles, would cut off Harry and his wife if they chose to move abroad.  

Her Majesty pays Harry and William jointly £5million from the £82million annual Sovereign Grant, which is funded by the taxpayer, and handed to the most senior members of the royal family.

The £5million from their grandmother the Queen is not broken down between the royal siblings – but William is believed to get slightly more so Harry and his family probably receive around £2million from the Crown. 

The brothers also claim a further £3.16million a year in ‘non-official expenditure’ and is likely to be split in similar proportions.   

The couple recently spent more than £2.4million of taxpayers' money refurbishing their Frogmore Cottage home

The couple recently spent more than £2.4million of taxpayers' money refurbishing their Frogmore Cottage home

The couple recently spent more than £2.4million of taxpayers’ money refurbishing their Frogmore Cottage home

Another source of income for Prince Harry is his annual allowance from the profits generated his father’s £1.2billion Duchy of Cornwall estate. Charles paid £4.9million to his sons from that pot last year. 

Harry and Meghan also claim staffing costs, which are currently estimated at just under £1million a year.

They employ a private secretary, who can earn up to £146,000, and a nanny for Archie who would also command a six-figure salary. London ‘super nannies’ who work for the capital’s richest and most powerful families earn an average of £104,000, according to industry sources.  

At Frogmore Cottage they have a housekeeper – but no chef because Meghan loves cooking – two personal assistants and two palace orderlies probably earning between £20,000 and £30,000 each.   

Her Majesty pays Harry and William jointly £5million from the £82million annual Sovereign Grant, which is funded by the taxpayer

Her Majesty pays Harry and William jointly £5million from the £82million annual Sovereign Grant, which is funded by the taxpayer

Her Majesty pays Harry and William jointly £5million from the £82million annual Sovereign Grant, which is funded by the taxpayer

The couple have significant personal wealth they could live on. Prince Harry’s net worth is estimated to be around £30 million. He inherited more than £20million from his late mother Princess Diana and around £7m from his great-grandmother the Queen Mother, who paid it into a trust fund him. Meghan has a net worth of around £4million herself, having earned £40,000 an episode on Suits. 

She also made £150,000 per film appearance and similar amounts from fashion collections modelling each year. Her ‘Tig’ lifestyle blog was worth £60,000 a year to her before she shut it down when she announced she was Harry’s girlfriend. And she is also believed to have a valuable property in Toronto.       

What if they quit as royals completely?

Harry and Meghan would lose millions from this decision – but could keep their titles if they choose.

Overnight the Sussexes would lose access to the the £8million given to him and William each year. Their £1million staffing bill would also be on them. 

When Edward VIII abdicated he still received millions a year from the Duchy of Cornwall estate and it would be unlikely that Charles would cut off his youngest son from this seven-figure income. 

Edward VIII gave up the throne because he wanted to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. 

He was king for 326 days before making a public radio broadcast where he said he wanted to abdicate so he could ‘marry the woman he loved.’

When Edward VIII (pictured with his wife Wallis Simpson in 1936) he still received millions a year from the Duchy of Cornwall estate and it would be unlikely that Charles would cut off his youngest son from this seven-figure income

When Edward VIII (pictured with his wife Wallis Simpson in 1936) he still received millions a year from the Duchy of Cornwall estate and it would be unlikely that Charles would cut off his youngest son from this seven-figure income

When Edward VIII (pictured with his wife Wallis Simpson in 1936) he still received millions a year from the Duchy of Cornwall estate and it would be unlikely that Charles would cut off his youngest son from this seven-figure income

They would also keep their grace-and-favour Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, because it was a gift to them by the Queen.

However, they would be expected to pay for renovations and some of its upkeep and any more taxpayer-funded works would be banned. 

They would keep the royal protection officers who protect them 24/7  

Will they keep their titles?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are said to be looking at relinquishing their royal titles as an ‘option’ as they consider their future. 

A move abroad would not necessarily mean they have to to ditch their HRH titles.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have already made the first step towards doing that after they decided they didn’t wants their son, Archie Mountbatten to have a royal title.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who were the line of succession equivalent to Archie, had titles from birth.

King Edward VIII, who abdicated from the royal family in 1936, did not lose his royal title and was made the Duke of Windsor.

The Prince of Wales (pictured, alongside William, George and The Queen is already moving closer to adopting a modern 'Prince Regent' role, which would see him control day-to-day royal affairs while his mother remains monarch

The Prince of Wales (pictured, alongside William, George and The Queen is already moving closer to adopting a modern 'Prince Regent' role, which would see him control day-to-day royal affairs while his mother remains monarch

The Prince of Wales (pictured, alongside William, George and The Queen is already moving closer to adopting a modern ‘Prince Regent’ role, which would see him control day-to-day royal affairs while his mother remains monarch

Prince Philip had to give up his own royal title as Prince of Greece and Denmark, in order to be able to marry into the British royal family. 

If Harry did give up his title it would have an impact on  the line of succession. 

Currently it stands as Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, then Prince Harry, followed by Archie Mountbatten Windsor, then Prince Andrew.

Without Prince Harry, Andrew would move up two places, as Archie also moves out of the line of succession. 

Will they still work for the Queen and turn up to royal events? 

The couple would continue to work for the Queen and turn up at royal events if they moved abroad.

If they decided to relinquish their royal titles, then they would not be bound by royal protocol.

But if they continued their work as the Duke and Duchess they could in theory step back from the number of official visits they are required to go on.

But royal commentators say it is unlikely they would step back completely, as Harry still ‘has a duty’ to the Queen as her grandson.

Former communication secretary for the Queen Dickie Arbiter told MailOnline that he thought it is ‘highly unlilkely’ they will ever move abroad and withdraw from royal duties.

He said: ‘Harry is a senior member of the royal family, his duty is to the Queen.

The Queen (pictured with Prince William, Prince George and Prince Charles in a photograph released this month) expects her family to do their 'duty' and would probably be asked for her blessing by Harry,

The Queen (pictured with Prince William, Prince George and Prince Charles in a photograph released this month) expects her family to do their 'duty' and would probably be asked for her blessing by Harry,

 The Queen (pictured with Prince William, Prince George and Prince Charles in a photograph released this month) expects her family to do their ‘duty’ and would probably be asked for her blessing by Harry,

‘It is highly unlikely they will move to Canada. They have been over there for six weeks over Christmas.

‘They have had quiet time, they have had getting to know you time, but Harry is a senior royal.

‘Harry is a senior member of the royal family, his duty is to the Queen.

‘They may go over there from time to time, but moving over their full time and withdrawing from his royal duties is just not an option at all.’ 

What impact would leaving Britain have on the royal family?

The Queen expects her family to do their ‘duty’ and would probably be asked for her blessing by Harry, who is close to his grandmother and is known to lean on her for advice. 

But in truth it is Harry’s father Charles who would most need to be convinced of the plan. 

The Prince of Wales is already moving closer to adopting a modern ‘Prince Regent’ role, which would see him control day-to-day royal affairs while his mother remains monarch.

He also wants a slimmed down royal family, costing the taxpayer less money, but sees Harry, Meghan and Archie firmly at the institution’s heart. 

Harry’s brother William is also taking an active role in royal decision making, and he and Charles both reportedly took the lead and urged the Queen to sack Prince Andrew from royal duties over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.  

The Duke of Cambridge said last year he was ‘worried’ about his brother after he talked about his mental health in a TV documentary and would be worried about the impact his brother leaving Britain would have on the royals.

But Harry and Meghan would promise to continue many of their key royal duties in the UK – and also argue they can boost the international profile of the Windsors from a foreign base, because a great deal of their charity work is already abroad, especially in Africa. 

Couple complain that royal roles mean they CAN’T earn their own money… but now they’ll need to strike lucrative deals to keep up a lavish transatlantic lifestyle, so how WILL they make a living?   

By Sam Greenhill, Chief Reporter for the Daily Mail 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex last night revealed they plan to relaunch their careers – potentially earning millions of pounds a year.

In an astonishing statement on their new website, they complained they had been unable to earn their own money as senior royals.

They will give up their income from the Sovereign Grant – the money taxpayers give to the Queen every year – and launch themselves onto the international celebrity circuit.

They will need to strike lucrative commercial deals to maintain the lavish lifestyle to which they are comfortably accustomed.

Harry and Meghan are pictured in Toronto in 2017 as they leave the wheelchair tennis at the Invictus Games in 2017

Harry and Meghan are pictured in Toronto in 2017 as they leave the wheelchair tennis at the Invictus Games in 2017

Harry and Meghan are pictured in Toronto in 2017 as they leave the wheelchair tennis at the Invictus Games in 2017

Until now Harry and Meghan have been ‘prohibited from earning any income in any form’ – as they pointed out last night in a lengthy statement on their official website.

The couple issued a declaration that they were looking forward to ‘becoming financially independent’. They said they had ‘made the choice’ to ‘no longer receive funding’ from the Sovereign Grant, adding: ‘Their Royal Highnesses prefer to release this financial tie.’

No one knows how much the grant is worth to Harry and Meghan but in forfeiting it they have effectively liberated themselves from most accountability to taxpayers over their spending.

Royals set to keep cottage YOU helped to renovate 

Despite stepping back as frontline royals, Harry and Meghan have decided to keep Frogmore Cottage.

The public paid £2.4million to fund a renovation of the Grade II-listed property near Windsor Castle. And the couple announced last night they wanted to keep it so they would have ‘a place to call home in the United Kingdom’.

The phrasing raised the prospect that their main home will come to be regarded as being elsewhere, perhaps Canada.

It was decided taxpayers would help Harry and Meghan pay for Frogmore after the newlyweds eschewed their home in the grounds of Kensington Palace, wanting a place of their own.

Royal accounts show £2.4million of taxpayer money has been ploughed into renovating five-bedroomed Frogmore Cottage.

The major work included replacing defective ceiling beams and floor joists, and updating outmoded heating systems.

But the couple are also thought to have installed a luxury kitchen and bathroom in the building. Officials have been keen to downplay suggestions that this was an example of royal profligacy.

Last night, a statement on the official royal Sussex website said: ‘Frogmore Cottage will continue to be the property of Her Majesty the Queen.

‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to use Frogmore Cottage – with the permission of Her Majesty The Queen – as their official residence as they continue to support the monarchy, and so that their family will always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom.’

When the enormous public cost of fixing up Frogmore was first revealed, the couple faced criticism from some quarters.

Even fans of the royals were scathing about the costs, especially as Harry and Meghan ‘could have moved next door’ to a grand apartment within Kensington Palace if they had needed more space.

But amid reports of a rift with Prince William and Kate, the ‘substantial overhaul’ of Frogmore Cottage – a gift to the couple from the Queen – was approved by Her Majesty. The final bill is expected to top £3million.

One critic, Graham Smith, from the campaign group Republic, compared the renovation bill to a charity’s funding of a centre for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), saying: ‘A charity spent £2.4million on a support centre for marines suffering PTSD.

‘The taxpayers then spent the same amount on a luxury private home for Harry and Meghan.’

Defending their new status, they stressed: ‘There is precedent for this structure and it applies to other current members of the Royal Family who support the monarch and also have full-time jobs external to their commitment to the monarchy.’

While the statement on the couple’s website makes great play of the fact they are giving up the money from the Sovereign Grant, it does not say whether they will be making do without the cash they get from Prince Charles via his private £1.2billion Duchy of Cornwall estate – which some argue should be regarded as a public asset.

Charles paid £4.9million to his sons from his duchy income last year, of which slightly less than half is believed to have gone to Harry.

Yesterday the Sussexes said the money from Charles amounted to 95 per cent of their office expenditure. They added: ‘The remaining 5 per cent of funding for the Office of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, covering costs associated with employing members of their official office, is received through the Sovereign Grant.’ 

The couple stressed that ‘wherever possible and unless advised otherwise on security grounds’, they travel using ‘commercial carriers, local trains and fuel-efficient vehicles’.

Harry’s other wealth comes from his estimated £20million inheritance from his mother Princess Diana. He also banked around £7million from his great-grandmother the Queen Mother, who paid it into a trust fund in 1994.

Meghan’s net worth of around £4million came from having earned around £37,000 per episode as an actress in the US drama Suits.

Playing paralegal Rachel Zane, she starred in over 100 episodes, which put her annual pay at an estimated £333,000. She also appeared in several films, including romantic comedies and Horrible Bosses, where she had a 30-second cameo as a delivery girl.

Her role in the 2010 film Remember Me reportedly earned her £140,000, while she was paid £130,000 for The Candidate in the same year. 

By keeping their royal titles – and given their high profiles on both sides of the Atlantic – Harry and Meghan are likely to be offered many lucrative engagements.

The world’s top speakers can command up to half a million dollars (£380,000) for a single after-dinner speech. They may also be able to make money from merchandise.

In the past few weeks, the couple have trademarked their Sussex royal brand on more than 100 items, from T-shirts, books and magazines to teaching materials and emotional support groups.

They submitted trademark applications for textbooks, footwear, headgear, coats, jackets – and even pyjamas. The couple are already hugely wealthy. 

Before marrying Harry, Meghan earned £61,000 a year running her lifestyle blog The Tig, which focused on food, travel, fashion and health and made the most of her celebrity endorsement deals. 

She had to shut it down when she announced she was Harry’s girlfriend. If it is now reactivated, it could make her far more money.

But the road ahead is fraught with danger if past royal commercial ventures are anything to go by. 

Images of the Duchess of York infamously counting bundles of cash in a News of the World sting were hard to shake off.  Prince Edward once tried to combine royal duties with running a television production company, before it flopped.

And his wife Sophie Wessex was also caught by the News of the World uttering indiscretions when touting herself as a PR consultant. 

The costs of Harry and Meghan’s lifestyle are high and likely to rise. They employ a private secretary, who can earn up to £146,000, and a nanny for their son Archie who would also command a six-figure salary. 

London ‘supernannies’ who work for the capital’s richest and most powerful families earn an average of £104,000, according to industry sources.

At Frogmore Cottage in Windsor they have a housekeeper – but no chef because Meghan loves cooking – two personal assistants and two palace orderlies probably earning between £20,000 and £30,000 each.

The couple came under scrutiny in 2019 for their use of private jets when they travelled together. The trips were privately funded by the couple.

They also visited family friend Sir Elton John’s holiday home, but the musician revealed he had paid for the cost of the flight himself and donated to a carbon- offsetting charity.

Harry and Meghan’s Royal romance: From a star-studded wedding and the birth of Archie to a ‘rift’ with Prince William and controversy over their bid to ‘modernise’ the monarchy

By Chloe Morgan and Bridie Pearson-Jones for MailOnline

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced they will be stepping back as senior royals – after a whirlwind two years in the public eye.

The Duke, 35, and Duchess of Sussex, 38, who made their first ever appearance together at the Invictus Games in Toronto on 25 September 2017, have squeezed in endless memorable moments in the time that has followed.  

Among their jam-packed schedule includes their official engagement announcement in November 2017, and the multi-cultural and US-influenced wedding that followed at Windsor Castle, on May 2018.

The star-studded day was filled with VIP guests and dominated by Hollywood stars including the Clooneys, the Beckhams, Idris Elba, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hardy and James Corden.  

Other highlights since their big day include Meghan’s lavish baby shower trip to New York, which is thought to have cost more than $500,000 (£380,000), Archie’s birth on 6 May 2019, and their 10-day tour of Africa as a family late last year. 

Here, FEMAIL looks back at the Duke and Duchess’ engagements since the first moment they stepped into the public eye together. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watched Wheelchair Tennis at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada on 25 September 2017 - in what marked their first public appearance together

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watched Wheelchair Tennis at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada on 25 September 2017 - in what marked their first public appearance together

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watched Wheelchair Tennis at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada on 25 September 2017 – in what marked their first public appearance together

The Duke and and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son (Name later announced as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor), who was born on May 6 2019 during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Berkshire

The Duke and and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son (Name later announced as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor), who was born on May 6 2019 during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Berkshire

The Duke and and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son (Name later announced as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor), who was born on May 6 2019 during a photocall in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle in Berkshire

FIRST PUBLIC EVENT, 25 September 2017

Hand in hand, Prince Harry proudly brought his girlfriend Meghan Markle to a highly public tennis match on 25 September 2017 at the Invictus Games in Toronto – marking their first official appearance together as a couple.

The Suits star made an intriguing outfit choice, sporting a a £221 (retailing for $185 in the States) white shirt named The Husband, designed by her friend Misha Nonoo whose former spouse went to Eton with William and Harry, along with sunglasses and ripped blue jeans.

Their appearance was seen as a sign that an engagement was on the cards for the couple, and within hours of them stepping out together bookies Ladbrokes suspended betting on an engagement announcement.

The love birds arrived, fingers entwined, to the Invictus Games semi-final, in full view of members of the public and photographers.

The couple put on a show of togetherness with Harry leaning close to chat to his then-girlfriend during proceedings on 25 September 2017

The couple put on a show of togetherness with Harry leaning close to chat to his then-girlfriend during proceedings on 25 September 2017

The couple put on a show of togetherness with Harry leaning close to chat to his then-girlfriend during proceedings on 25 September 2017

What a loved-up pair! Prince Harry eschewed royal formality as he affectionately kissed Meghan on the head while holding hands as they made their way to their seat at the wheelchair tennis during today's Invictus Games in Toronto

What a loved-up pair! Prince Harry eschewed royal formality as he affectionately kissed Meghan on the head while holding hands as they made their way to their seat at the wheelchair tennis during today's Invictus Games in Toronto

What a loved-up pair! Prince Harry eschewed royal formality as he affectionately kissed Meghan on the head while holding hands as they made their way to their seat at the wheelchair tennis during today’s Invictus Games in Toronto

ENGAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT, 27 November 2017

Prince Harry told how he was ‘thrilled’ to be marrying Meghan Markle and admitted he knew the Suits star was ‘the one’ from ‘the first day we met’.

Meghan also showed the world her engagement ring designed by Harry himself containing two diamonds from Princess Diana’s own personal collection set in a gold band.

Harry looked nervous but happy as they made their first public appearance since the announcement in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, much loved by his late mother Princess Diana.

A timeline of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s relationship:

October 30 2016 – News breaks that Prince Harry is dating star of US legal drama Suits, Meghan Markle.

November 8 2016 – Protective Harry attacks the media over its “abuse and harassment” of his girlfriend.

December 13 2016 – Harry and Meghan are spotted buying a Christmas tree together in Battersea Park.

January 6 2017 – Harry whisks Meghan off on a romantic break to see the Northern Lights in Norway.

February 2 2017 – The pair are spotted holding hands on a date night in London amid claims Meghan has “virtually moved in” with Harry at Kensington Palace.

March 4 2017 – They attend the wedding of one of Harry’s best friends Tom Inskip in Jamaica, sparking more predictions Harry is about to propose.

April 7 2017 – Meghan announces she is ending her lifestyle blog thetig.com which is taken as a sign she is preparing for life as a royal.

May 7 2017 – They are photographed kissing in public for the first time at Cowarth Park polo club in Ascot, Berkshire.

May 20 2017 – Meghan joins Harry at Pippa Middleton’s wedding reception but stays away from the church service.

September 5 2017 – The actress graces the cover of US magazine Vanity Fair and speaks openly about Harry for the first time, revealing: “We’re two people who are really happy and in love.”

September 24 2017 – Meghan makes her first appearance at an official engagement attended by Harry when she attends the Invictus Games opening ceremony in Toronto, Canada – although the pair sit about 18 seats apart.

September 25 2017 – Hand in hand and beaming with delight, Harry and Meghan make their first official public appearance together at Invictus’s wheelchair tennis.

September 30 2017 – The prince is seen kissing his girlfriend on the lips inside a darkened VIP box at the Invictus closing ceremony.

The pair were joined by Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland.

October 19 2017 – It emerges that Harry has taken the Suits star to meet his grandmother the Queen, whose permission they need to marry.

November 21 2017 – Meghan is spotted in London, getting a facial – prompting speculation she is preparing for an engagement announcement.

November 27 2017 – Clarence House announces the engagement.

Harry and Meghan pose for pictures at Kensington Palace, and record a television interview.

They reveal how Harry proposed over a roast chicken during a cosy night in.

November 28 2017 – The wedding venue – St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle – is confirmed. Aides reveal Meghan intends to become a British citizen and will be baptised and confirmed ahead of the ceremony.

December 1 2017 – Harry and Meghan carry out their first joint engagement in Nottingham as the actress takes to the royal role with ease.

December 15 2017 – The wedding date is announced as May 19 2018.

December 20 2017 – Meghan joins Harry at the Queen’s traditional pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace.

December 21 2017 – The couple’s romantic engagement photos by celebrity photographer Alexi Lubomirski are released.

December 25 2017 – Meghan celebrates Christmas with the royals, joining them at church in Sandringham on Christmas Day – a first for a royal fiancee.

December 27 2017 – Harry guest-edits BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, and says Meghan had a fantastic Christmas with the royals, adding: “It’s the family I suppose that she’s never had.”

December 31 2017 – The couple fly to France to spend New Year together in the French Riviera.

January 9 2018 – The couple visit youth-orientated radio station Reprezent FM in Brixton, south London. Meghan shuts down her dormant social media accounts.

January 18 – On an away day to Cardiff, Harry and Meghan wow the crowds, visit Cardiff Castle, are given love spoons, and play Jenga in a community centre.

January 25 – Harry heads to Botswana on a solo private fact-finding mission to learn about the latest developments in wildlife conservation.

February 1 – Meghan attends her first official evening engagement with Harry at the Endeavour Fund awards.

February 13 – Meghan wears tartan for her first official visit to Scotland on a series of engagements with Harry in Edinburgh.

February 22 – Police investigate white powder and racist material sent to St James’s Palace.

February 28 – The couple take part in their first joint engagement with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a Royal Foundation forum. Meghan shows her support for the £MeToo and Time’s Up Campaigns during an on-stage Q&A.

March 6 – Meghan is baptised and confirmed into the Anglican faith during a secret ceremony led by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Chapel Royal.

March 8 – Harry and Meghan carry out engagements in Birmingham on International Women’s Day.

March 12 – Meghan attends her first official engagement with the Queen when she joins senior royals at the Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey. She sings the national anthem and tells schoolchildren she is “very very excited” about her wedding.

March 23 – On a trip to Belfast, Meghan jokes when shown baby products “I’m sure at some point we’ll need the whole (lot)”.

March 29 – Meghan reportedly heads back to the US to see her mother Doria for Easter and to talk wedding plans.

April 6 – Harry and Meghan meet Invictus hopefuls trying out for the UK team at Bath University.

April 11 – US ambassador Robert Wood Johnson describes the wedding as a symbol of the special relationship between Britain and America, and Harry launches the Walk of America expedition.

April 16 – Harry is made a Commonwealth Youth ambassador by the Queen and says Meghan is hugely excited to be working with him on his Commonwealth duties.

April 19 – Meghan supports LGBT issues saying it is about “human rights” as she attends a Youth Forum reception with Harry as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting

April 20 – The pair join Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at a Women’s Empowerment reception, in support of a pledge to offer the world’s poorest girls schooling.

April 23 – William and Kate’s baby son Prince Louis is born. Harry and Meghan attend a memorial service celebrating the life and legacy of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, 25 years after his death.

April 25 – Harry and Meghan attend a dawn service, and a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark Anzac Day.

May 14 – Meghan’s father Thomas Markle looks set to miss the wedding amid reports he staged photos for the paparazzi and suffered a heart attack. Meghan appeals for “understanding and respect” for her father.

May 17 – Meghan confirms her father will not be attending her wedding, saying he needs to focus on his health.

May 18 – Bride-to-be Meghan says she is feeling “wonderful” as she arrives with her mother Doria at Cliveden House Hotel the night before the wedding.

May 19 – Harry and Meghan marry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

May 22 – The newlyweds carry out their first official engagement as a married couple, attending a Buckingham Palace garden party in honour of the Prince of Wales’s patronages in his 70th birthday year.

June 9 – The Duchess of Sussex takes her place on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the first time during the Trooping the Colour celebrations.

June 11 – Kensington Palace announce that the duke and duchess will make an official visit to Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga and New Zealand in the autumn.

June 14 – Meghan undertakes her first joint engagement with the Queen on a day trip to Cheshire, and body language experts say the pair got on famously.

June 16 – The couple are guests at the wedding of Harry’s cousin Celia McCorquodale.

June 18 – Thomas Markle says he expects his daughter and Harry will try for children soon, and that Meghan has wanted a child for a long time.

June 19 – Harry and Meghan join the carriage procession and present a trophy at Royal Ascot, where winning jockey Frankie Dettori takes the chance to kiss the duchess on the hand.

June 26 – Harry and Meghan join the Queen at the Young Leaders awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

June 30 & July 1 – Meghan watches Harry play polo at Coworth Park, Ascot.

July 5 – The couple attend the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House in London with Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland QC.

July 9 – Meghan and Harry join the Cambridges for Prince Louis’s christening at the Chapel Royal.

July 10 – The royals mark the centenary of the RAF, attending a service at Westminster Abbey, a presentation of a new Queen’s Colour on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, and a flypast.

July 10-11 – The pair pay an official visit to Dublin, and carry out engagements at Croke Park and the Famine Memorial.

July 17 – The couple visit the Nelson Mandela centenary exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London.

July 26 – The duchess watches the duke play polo in the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club in Windsor, and the couple share a kiss at the trophy presentation.

August 4 – Meghan spends her 37th birthday at the wedding of Harry’s friend Charlie van Straubenzee.

August 16 – The pair holiday with George and Amal Clooney in Lake Como in Italy.

August 29 – Harry and Meghan watch a gala performance of the musical Hamilton, in support of Sentebale.

September 4 – The couple attend the annual WellChild Awards – a cause close to Harry’s heart. Meghan gives a rose to one of the winners Matilda Booth, and the seven-year-old makes Harry a ‘pinky promise’ that she will never stop smiling.

September 6 – The duke and duchess attend the 100 Days to Peace gala marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.

October 12 – Harry and Meghan return to St George’s Chapel for Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank just five months after they pledged their love for one another in the same Windsor Castle venue.

October 15 – The duke and duchess touch down in Australia ahead of their first royal tour as a married couple.

October 15 – The duke and duchess are “very pleased” that Meghan is expecting a baby in the spring of 2019, Kensington Palace announces.

February 2019 – Meghan makes a surprise trip to New York where she enjoys a two-day baby shower with close friends including Serena Williams and Amal Clooney.

March 14 – Rumours of a rift between Harry and William emerge after the Sussex’s split from Kensington Palace to form their own royal household.

April 4 – The couple move into Frogmore Cottage following taxpayer-funded renovations that reportedly cost around £2.4 million.

May 6 – Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is born at the Portland Hospital in London after Meghan goes into labour in the early hours of the morning. It is a break from tradition with previous royals, including the Duchess of Cambridge, who have previously visited the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in London to give birth.

May 8 – The duke and duchess present baby Archie to the world at a press briefing at St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle. The couple later reveal they chose not to use the courtesy title Earl Dumbarton, which Archie was allowed to use, nor to style him Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, opting for plain “Master” instead.

June 20 – Harry and Meghan confirm they are splitting from the Royal Foundation charity with William and Kate to start their own initiative, Sussex Royal. It is later revealed it will officially launch in 2020.

July 7 – Archie is christened at an intimate ceremony attended by close family. Royal baptisms are traditionally private but Harry and Meghan went one step further by going against convention and deciding not to announce Archie’s godparents, with the couple facing criticism from some quarters.

July 28 – It is announced Meghan is guest editing the September issue of British Vogue and she chooses to put the faces of 15 “changemakers” – including activists, politicians and artists – on the cover rather than herself. Prince Harry also interviewed anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall and tells her he will only have two children for the sake of the planet.

August 2019 – The couple are heavily criticised in the press for using private jets to go on holiday with Archie to the south of France. In September, Harry defends the use of the transport and claims it was to “ensure their safety”.

September 23 – Harry and Meghan take Archie on a two-week Royal Tour of South Africa, while the duke also visits Botswana, Malawi and Angola alone. In Angola, Harry visits a minefield where his mother was pictured walking through 22 years previously while on charity work to call for an end to landmines.

October 1 – Prince Harry issues a statement criticising the press for its coverage of his wife. At the same time the Sussex’s release a statement confirming they will 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.

October 21 – Meghan reveals her struggles with royal life in an ITV documentary filmed during the duke and duchess’s trip to Africa and says “It’s not enough to just survive something… You’ve got to thrive.” In the same programme, Harry reveals he and brother William are on “different paths”.

November 14 – The duke and duchess confirm they will not spend Christmas at Sandringham with the Royal Family. It is later announced they are taking a six-week break and they spend the holidays in Canada.

January 7, 2020 – Harry and Meghan return from their break and visit Canada House in London to thank the country’s High Commissioner for the hospitality they received.

January 8 – The duke and duchess announce in a statement released by Buckingham Palace they are stepping back as “senior” members of the Royal Family and are “working to become financially independent”. They also reveal they will split their time between the UK and North America.

His fiancee stroked his arm lovingly as they spoke to reporters, who asked him: ‘When did you know she was the one?’ and he replied: ‘From the very first time we met’.

He refused to say how he proposed saying: ‘That will come later’ but when asked if it was romantic he said: ‘Of course it was’ – but the couple didn’t kiss for the cameras.

The prince said he was ‘thrilled, over the moon’ adding: ‘Very glad it’s not raining as well.’ Meghan said she was ‘so happy, thank you’ before they wandered back into Kensington Palace beaming.

On November 27, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appeared in public for the first time following their engagement announcement as they posed for photographs in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in west London

On November 27, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appeared in public for the first time following their engagement announcement as they posed for photographs in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in west London

On November 27, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appeared in public for the first time following their engagement announcement as they posed for photographs in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in west London

THE ROYAL WEDDING, 19 May 2018

Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in a multi-cultural and US-influenced wedding at Windsor Castle on 19 May, 2018.

The newlyweds shared tears, laughter and a passionate kiss in front of their hundreds of VIP guests dominated by Hollywood stars including the Clooneys, the Beckhams, Idris Elba, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hardy and James Corden.

Elton John, who sang at Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, performed at the lunchtime reception hosted by the Queen in a poignant nod to Harry’s late mother.

All the senior British royals were also there to support the couple including Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Philip, Harry’s best man Prince William and his wife Kate, who brought George and Charlotte but left baby Louis with the nanny.

Meghan became the first mixed-race member of the royal family in an extraordinary journey for a girl born in LA to a white father and African-American mother who fought her way through the tough world of showbusiness to land a plum role in the TV series Suits. 

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry walked down the steps of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in Windsor, near London, following their wedding on May 19, 2018

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry walked down the steps of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in Windsor, near London, following their wedding on May 19, 2018

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry walked down the steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in Windsor, near London, following their wedding on May 19, 2018

FIRST OUTING AS THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX, 22 May 2018

Meghan Markle made her first outing as the Duchess of Sussex on 22 May 2018 as the newlyweds arrived at Prince Charles’s 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace.

The Duchess of Sussex was given a warm welcome into the family, with Prince Harry explicitly referring to the garden party as a ‘family celebration’ during his speech.

Harry and Meghan enjoyed only a brief private getaway following their wedding, and delayed their full honeymoon to honour the Prince.

But their newlywed energy was on full display as she rubbed her hand up and down her husband’s back as they made their way out. 

The Duke and Duchess attended the Prince of Wales' 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration at Buckingham Palace in London on 22 May 2018, which was their first official engagement following their wedding

The Duke and Duchess attended the Prince of Wales' 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration at Buckingham Palace in London on 22 May 2018, which was their first official engagement following their wedding

The Duke and Duchess attended the Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration at Buckingham Palace in London on 22 May 2018, which was their first official engagement following their wedding

PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENT AND FIRST ROYAL TOUR, October 2018

Meghan and Harry announced they were expecting in a statement via Kensington Palace on October 15, 2018.

The statement read: ‘Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019. Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public’.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh said they were ‘delighted’ to be welcoming their eighth great-grandchild in a joint statement with Prince Charles, who became a grandfather for the fourth time when Baby Sussex was born.  

Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland said she was ‘very happy about this lovely news’ and ‘looks forward to welcoming her first grandchild’.

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were told in person at the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank at Windsor Castle two days prior.

The baby news was released in a statement by Kensington Palace saying the baby was due in Spring 2019

The baby news was released in a statement by Kensington Palace saying the baby was due in Spring 2019

The baby news was released in a statement by Kensington Palace saying the baby was due in Spring 2019

Harry and Meghan attended the wedding of his cousin Princess Eugenie in Windsor on 12 October 2018 (pictured) - where they told the Queen and the royal family they were expecting and she was wearing a wide fitting coat

Harry and Meghan attended the wedding of his cousin Princess Eugenie in Windsor on 12 October 2018 (pictured) - where they told the Queen and the royal family they were expecting and she was wearing a wide fitting coat

Harry and Meghan attended the wedding of his cousin Princess Eugenie in Windsor on 12 October 2018 (pictured) – where they told the Queen and the royal family they were expecting and she was wearing a wide fitting coat

Rumours were rife that Meghan may be pregnant after her mother Doria Ragland was seen taking baby-care classes in Pasadena with a view to looking after her new grandchild. 

The news came as the couple were seen beaming as they touched down in Sydney to start their three-week tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga – their first major international trip since they married in May.

They were later photographed holding hands in the grounds of Admiralty House, where the Queen stays Down Under, when their happy news was announced to the world. 

Their 16-day tour of Australasia included a trip to Fiji and Tonga despite advice that pregnant women should not travel to the region because of its moderate Zika risk.

LAVISH BABY SHOWER, February 2019

At seven-months-pregnant, the Duchess of Sussex celebrated the impending arrival of her first child Archie with a lavish baby shower trip to New York, which is thought to have cost more than $500,000 (£380,000).

Meghan’s pricey – but privately-funded – party, which took place in a $75,000-a-night penthouse, included a flower arranging class for guests, using a variety of blooms from Upper East Side florist Lady Fleur.

Guests at the lavish baby shower left the intimate gathering with high-end gift bags filled with luxe leather tote bags filled with the royal’s favourite products. 

According to People, Serena Williams, Amal Clooney, and Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney were among the attendees who were gifted Cuyana leather totes that were filled to the brim with products, much like Oscars swag bags. 

Meghan Markle took a trip to New York where she hosted her lavish baby shower in February 2019

Meghan Markle took a trip to New York where she hosted her lavish baby shower in February 2019

Meghan Markle took a trip to New York where she hosted her lavish baby shower in February 2019 

The Duchess of Sussex celebrated the impending arrival of the royal baby with a spectacular baby shower in New York, costing an estimated $500,000 (£380,000) in total

The Duchess of Sussex celebrated the impending arrival of the royal baby with a spectacular baby shower in New York, costing an estimated $500,000 (£380,000) in total

The Duchess of Sussex celebrated the impending arrival of the royal baby with a spectacular baby shower in New York, costing an estimated $500,000 (£380,000) in total

ARCHIE’S BIRTH, 6 May 2019 

Prince Harry revealed his delight at baby Archie’s arrival during a TV statement in which he heaped praise on his ‘incredible’ wife.

The Duke of Sussex announced that Meghan had given birth at 5.26am to a boy weighing 7lbs 3oz, having been more than a week overdue.

Prince Harry gushed that the ‘little thing is absolutely to-die-for’ as he announced the news on after Meghan went into labour in the early hours.

Speaking from Windsor at the time, a visibly-excited Prince Harry shared his immense pride as he joked of getting just two hours’ sleep the night before, before calling the birth ‘the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined’.

In a statement shortly after the birth was announced, Buckingham Palace said Meghan and her baby were ‘both doing well’, and that the Queen and other members of the royal family were ‘delighted’ with the news.

Speaking hours after his wife went into labour, an overjoyed Prince Harry (pictured) revealed that his wife had given birth to a healthy baby boy

Speaking hours after his wife went into labour, an overjoyed Prince Harry (pictured) revealed that his wife had given birth to a healthy baby boy

Speaking hours after his wife went into labour, an overjoyed Prince Harry (pictured) revealed that his wife had given birth to a healthy baby boy 

FIRST PICTURES OF BABY ARCHIE, 8 MAY, 2019

Meghan and Harry made their first public appearance with baby Archie two days after he was born in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The move differed from the announcement of royal babies in the past, where new mothers  had shown of their newborns on the steps of the hospital where they were born. 

The baby boy was lovingly cradled by his adoring father and watched attentively by Meghan, who was herself pictured for the first time in over a month since withdrawing from public life ahead of the birth. 

The couple appeared to be beside themselves with joy, giggling and looking into each other’s eyes as they spoke, while Harry could not resist sneaking a peek down at his son as he apparently slept. 

Speaking from inside the majestic St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, a radiant Meghan declared: ‘It’s magic, it’s pretty amazing. He’s just been the dream so it’s been a special couple of days. 

Baby Sussex (pictured) made his very first public appearance at a photocall alongside a thrilled Prince Harry and Meghan in the grounds of Windsor Castle

Baby Sussex (pictured) made his very first public appearance at a photocall alongside a thrilled Prince Harry and Meghan in the grounds of Windsor Castle

Baby Sussex (pictured) made his very first public appearance at a photocall alongside a thrilled Prince Harry and Meghan in the grounds of Windsor Castle

The world was given its first ever glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's newborn son on 8 May 2019 as his beaming parents finally showed off their 'own little bundle of joy' to millions of royal fans across the globe

The world was given its first ever glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's newborn son on 8 May 2019 as his beaming parents finally showed off their 'own little bundle of joy' to millions of royal fans across the globe

The world was given its first ever glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s newborn son on 8 May 2019 as his beaming parents finally showed off their ‘own little bundle of joy’ to millions of royal fans across the globe

‘I have the two best guys in the world so I’m really happy. He has the sweetest temperament, he’s really calm.’ 

As they both laughed, Harry said: ‘I don’t know who he gets that from.’ 

Asked who the baby takes after, Meghan said: ‘We’re still trying to figure that out.’

Harry said: ‘Everyone says that babies change so much over two weeks we’re basically monitoring how the changing process happens over this next month really. But his looks are changing every single day, so who knows.’

Asked how he found parenting, Harry added: ‘It’s great. Parenting is amazing. It’s only been two and a half days, three days, but we’re just so thrilled to have our own little bundle of joy.’

Harry said they were looking forward to spending some ‘precious times with him as he slowly, slowly starts to grow up.’

Asked about going to see the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Meghan said: ‘We just bumped into the duke as we were walking by which was so nice. So it’ll be a nice moment to introduce the baby to more family and my mum’s with us as well.’  

CHRISTENING: JULY, 2019 

Archie Mountbatten Windsor was christened exactly two months after he was born on July 6, last year.

The young royal was pictured sitting on the lap of his mother, the Duchess of Sussex, as she nestled into the shoulder of his father, the Duke of Sussex.

The image, shot against the opulence of Windsor Castle’s Green Drawing Room, was one of warmth and family joy.

Archie did not be take an HRH title at the request of his parents but he did, however, enjoy all the trappings of a Royal christening. 

This official christening photograph released by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shows the Duke and Duchess with their son, Archie and (left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, The Prince of Wales, Ms Doria Ragland, Princess Diana's sisters Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle

This official christening photograph released by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shows the Duke and Duchess with their son, Archie and (left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, The Prince of Wales, Ms Doria Ragland, Princess Diana's sisters Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle

This official christening photograph released by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shows the Duke and Duchess with their son, Archie and (left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, The Prince of Wales, Ms Doria Ragland, Princess Diana’s sisters Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle 

Finally baby Archie's face is revealed! The stunning snap shows off the adorable royal, with the little boy being held by mother Meghan Markle

Finally baby Archie's face is revealed! The stunning snap shows off the adorable royal, with the little boy being held by mother Meghan Markle

Finally baby Archie’s face is revealed! The stunning snap shows off the adorable royal, with the little boy being held by mother Meghan Markle

He was wearing the cascading ivory Honiton lace and satin gown used for all Royal babies’ baptisms since the reign of Queen Victoria. The one Archie wore is a 2008 copy of the 1841 original, and was handmade by the Queen’s dresser Angela Kelly.

The ceremony was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, using the silver gilt Lily Font. Commissioned in 1840 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for the birth of their first child, it is part of the Crown Jewels and had been brought from the Tower of London for the occasion.

The names’ of Archie’s godparents have never been revealed, but Prince Harry’s former nanny Tiggy Legge Bourke was among the 25 guests at the private event, sparking speculation she was godmother. 

In the main picture, Archie is flanked by three of his proud grandparents, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland 

In a touching tribute to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana’s sisters Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale were prominent in the official picture.

In the second image, which was black and white, Meghan was seen gazing into Harry’s eyes as the proud father looked down at Archie, while placing a hand on his wife’s arm.

A second shot in black-and-white shows Meghan dressed in white gazing into Harry's eyes as she cradles baby Archie and her proud husband looks at their baby son. Windsor castle's Rose Garden can be seen in the background

A second shot in black-and-white shows Meghan dressed in white gazing into Harry's eyes as she cradles baby Archie and her proud husband looks at their baby son. Windsor castle's Rose Garden can be seen in the background

A second shot in black-and-white shows Meghan dressed in white gazing into Harry’s eyes as she cradles baby Archie and her proud husband looks at their baby son. Windsor castle’s Rose Garden can be seen in the background 

Prince Harry's former nanny Tiggy Legge Bourke was among the 25 guests at the private event in Windsor today, sparking speculation she could be one of Archie's godparents

Prince Harry's former nanny Tiggy Legge Bourke was among the 25 guests at the private event in Windsor today, sparking speculation she could be one of Archie's godparents

Prince Harry’s former nanny Tiggy Legge Bourke was among the 25 guests at the private event in Windsor today, sparking speculation she could be one of Archie’s godparents

TOUR OF AFRICA WITH BABY ARCHIE, September 2019

At the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Harry and Meghan visited South Africa, Malawi, Angola and Botswana between September 23 and October 2, 2019.

The royals took baby Archie, who was just four months at the time, along with them on the trip.

During the trip they unveiled three new Queens Commonwealth Canopy projects, protecting forests and planting trees, and worked with the British Government to announce investment of £8m in technology and skills in the region. 

The Duke also travelled to Angola to focus on the ongoing mission to rid the world of landmines – following in the footsteps of the work that was pioneered by his mother, Diana.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement:

‘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.’

But the highlight of the trip was when baby Archie made his first appearance by meeting one of the heroes of the anti-apartheid movement, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.   

The Sussexes released adorable footage of them carrying their four-month-old, with the caption, ‘Arch meets Archie!’.

Video posted to their Instagram account shows the couple beaming as Meghan holds little Archie – who giggles at his mother – as they are greeted by Archbishop Tutu and his daughter, Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe. 

Meghan joked with the Archbishop’s daughter Thandeka Tutu Gxashe that the little royal would have to get used the cameras in his life, while Ms Tutu Gxashe joked little Archie was ‘going to be a ladies’ man’.

The veteran Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-apartheid campaigner – who effectively became the leader of the liberation struggle during Nelson Mandela’s long imprisonment – said he was ‘thrilled by the ‘rare privilege and honour’ to meet the royals.

THE ITV DOCUMENTARY THAT FOLLOWED, 20 October 2019

In Tom Bradby’s hour-long documentary, ‘Harry & Meghan: An African Journey’, which followed the royal couple during their official tour of Africa, Prince Harry admitted that he and William are travelling on ‘different paths’ in the first public acceptance of a rift between the brothers.

In a candid interview, the Duke of Sussex acknowledged there had been deepening tensions between himself and William, following months of speculation about the state of the brothers’ relationship.

He made the comments in a TV documentary broadcast where he also attacked the press over the public scrutiny that he and wife Meghan Markle have faced.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took Archie on a tour of South Africa, Malawi, Angola and Botswana between September 23 and October 2, 2019. Pictured, during a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town on 29 September 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took Archie on a tour of South Africa, Malawi, Angola and Botswana between September 23 and October 2, 2019. Pictured, during a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town on 29 September 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took Archie on a tour of South Africa, Malawi, Angola and Botswana between September 23 and October 2, 2019. Pictured, during a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town on 29 September 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex met a group of dancers at the Nyanga Township in Cape Town, South Africa, on the first day of their tour of Africa on Monday September 23

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex met a group of dancers at the Nyanga Township in Cape Town, South Africa, on the first day of their tour of Africa on Monday September 23

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex met a group of dancers at the Nyanga Township in Cape Town, South Africa, on the first day of their tour of Africa on Monday September 23

Meghan met health workers and families during a visit to the mothers2mother charity organisation in Cape Town

Meghan met health workers and families during a visit to the mothers2mother charity organisation in Cape Town

Meghan met health workers and families during a visit to the mothers2mother charity organisation in Cape Town

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal career in numbers

600 days – the time Meghan has spent as a royal since her wedding to Harry on May 19, 2018, when she became the Duchess of Sussex.

26 – the couple’s combined charities and patronages. Harry has 20 including the London Marathon and Rhino Conservation Botswana. Meghan has six, including Smart Works, which provides interview training for unemployed women, and the National Theatre in London.

16 – the time in months Harry and Meghan were involved with William and Kate with the Royal Foundation between their first appearance in February 2018 and their split from the charity in June 2019.

£2.4 million – of taxpayer money used to renovate Frogmore Cottage, the Sussex’s home in Windsor.

Three years, six months – the length of Harry and Meghan’s relationship after the pair met on a blind date in July 2016.

Between £2 million and £4 million – the cost of policing the duke and duchess’ wedding with around 5,000 officers on the day.

Six – weeks the couple and Archie spent in Canada over the festive period as they took an extended break from royal duties. Meghan, a former actress, lived and worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama Suits.

10.1 million – the amount of followers the couple have on their official SussexRoyal Instagram page, started in April 2019 after the pair distanced themselves from Kensington Palace, which had previously managed their social media presence.

£89,000 – the increase in the bill the Prince of Wales paid to fund the public duties of Harry and Meghan and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Royal accounts showed that the prince’s bill for the Sussexes’ and the Cambridges’ activities, plus some other expenditure was £5.05 million in 2018-2019, up from £4.96 million in 2017-2018.

Eight months and three days – the age of Archie on the day of the announcement, after his birth on May 6, 2019. 

Harry said: ‘I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.’

The 35-year-old initially laughed in response to the question, then added: ‘Part of this role, part of this job and this family being under the pressure it is under, inevitably stuff happens.

‘But look, we are brothers, we will always be brothers. We are certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him and, as I know, he will always be there for me.’

He added: ‘We don’t see as much as we used to because we are so busy but I love him dearly and the majority of stuff is created out of nothing. As brothers, you have good days, you have bad days.’

Prince Harry refused to deny reports of a rift between himself and brother William in a candid interview

Prince Harry refused to deny reports of a rift between himself and brother William in a candid interview

Prince Harry refused to deny reports of a rift between himself and brother William in a candid interview

FINAL ENGAGEMENT BEFORE STEPPING BACK AS SENIOR ROYALS, 7 January 2020

Yesterday marked Prince Harry and Meghan’s final appearance before stepping back as royals. They put on a public display of affection to thank the people of Canada for hosting their private holiday.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex held hands and walked closely next to each other as they visited Canada House to meet the country’s High Commissioner in London, Janice Charette.

They were warmly greeted by Ms Charette and her deputy Sarah Fountain Smith, after saying they wanted to meet staff to ‘thank them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay’.

Meghan wore a mix of tans and camel colours for her appearance – pairing a coat from Reiss with a polo neck and £85 skirt from Massimo Dutti.

The Duchess was joined by Prince Harry at their first public appearance today marking the end of their six-weeks hiatus from royal duty – to thank the people of Canada for hosting their private holiday.

‘Meghan has ruined the royal family!’ Stunned social media users react to royal statement

By Danyal Hussain for MailOnline

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s sudden decision to quit the royal family has been met with disbelief on social media.

The move, which has been dubbed Megxit, has split fans, with some hailing the couple for stepping back from the family – though others have criticised them. 

Several slammed Meghan over the move, with one saying: ‘Meghan Markle has ruined the royal family.’ Another said: ‘Meghan Markle has ruined Prince Harry. Now separating him from his family.’

Others were more supportive of the decision. One said: ‘Harry worries and cares for Meghan. He just wants to protect her. Remember he lost his Mum, he doesnt want to lose his wife.’

A second commented: ‘Harry and Meghan don’t need to be in the Royal Family they can survive on their own. They seem so happy together why put up with all the royal stuff when you can just go live your life how you want.’ A third simply said: ‘Go Harry and Meghan.’ 

Announcing their decision, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement today: ‘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 six-week Canada trip that changed everything – and how Harry and Meghan now want to set up an eco-charity

By By Jake Hurfurt for the Daily Mail 

Just days ago Harry and Meghan were all smiles as they told crowds how ‘energised and refreshed’ they felt after their six-week break to Canada.

But last night, the couple confirmed that the commonwealth country could soon become a second home. ‘We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America,’ they said in a statement.

Their extended trip, which began in November, saw the pair spend the Christmas and New Year break away from Sandringham, where royals traditionally gather with the Queen.

Pictured: Mille Fleurs, the 18 million dollar property where Price Harry and Megan Markle were staying on Vancouver island in British Columbia

Pictured: Mille Fleurs, the 18 million dollar property where Price Harry and Megan Markle were staying on Vancouver island in British Columbia

Pictured: Mille Fleurs, the 18 million dollar property where Price Harry and Megan Markle were staying on Vancouver island in British Columbia

A source said it was while holed up in a multi-million pound mansion on Vancouver Island that the couple ‘secretly plotted’ their decision to exit the Royal Family.

Although negotiations are still at an early stage regarding where they will base themselves in North America, Canada is understood to be the favoured option.

The couple said the decision to step down, made public just days after their return, came after ‘many months of reflection and internal discussions’.

Splitting their time between North America and the UK would provide ‘geographic balance’ for baby son Archie, they claimed.

The shake-up would allow the eight-month-old to be raised both with ‘an appreciation for royal tradition’ and ‘space’ for the family to focus on their ‘next chapter’.

While on Vancouver Island, a celebrity hotspot favoured by the likes of Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and singer Nelly Furtado, the Sussexes enjoyed hikes and morning jogs.

And while members of the firm were photographed at Sandringham on Christmas Day, it was only through a post on Instagram that the public were given a glimpse into their festive period.

On New Year’s Eve, the couple thanked fans for ‘continued support’ in a post, adding: ‘We hope 2020 brings each of you health and continued happiness’.

In a picture shared on Instagram Harry, 35, could be seen lovingly gazing at Archie, who was wearing a similar grey hat to his father.

The shot was taken as the family enjoyed a day out from the sprawling waterfront mansion, which boasts a pizza oven, wine-tasting facilities and a games room.

Within days of arriving back in the UK, the pair visited Canada’s high commission in London, marking their first public engagement since returning to the UK. It is unheard of for a British royal to make an official engagement in relation to a private trip. But the couple said they wanted to thank the people of Canada.

The country was ‘wonderful’, Harry told commission staff, adding: ‘The warmth and hospitality that we were shown while there was unbelievable.’

Meghan, 38, added: ‘My goodness, it was just such an incredible time we were able to have there, and with our son too. Just to be able to take in the warmth that we experienced from the people but also just to walk around and see the beauty of Canada.’

Even Archie had been wowed, the former actress said, adding that he had murmured ‘Ahhh’ when visiting beauty spots. Locals spotted the pair hiking in a national park.

And Bev Koffel, who owns a waterfront restaurant on Vancouver Island, told a local paper that the royals had been turned away from her restaurant because their security requirements would be too difficult to arrange. Describing sightings of the couple, she said: ‘They jog around, so they’ve been seen. It’s kind of exciting.

They’re breaking away from tradition and I just wish them all the best.’ The five-bed, eight-bathroom mansion where the couple stayed is owned by an unknown US billionaire.

Even when the pair initially began their relationship, back in 2016, it was in Canada that they hid away from the limelight in Meghan’s Toronto apartment. The US actress had moved to the city for her role in sitcom Suits.

During the early days, the Sussexes are said to have spent time at home relaxing with her rescue dogs Bogart and Guy. It was also in Canada where the pair were first publicly pictured together at the 2017 Invictus games in Toronto.

The couple will establish a new charity as they prepare to step back from being senior royals. They said supporting ‘the shared strength and spirit of community’ will be at the centre of their voluntary work.

A post on the Sussexes’ new website says they will create ‘a charitable entity that will not only help complement these efforts, but also advance the solutions the world needs most’.

The focus will be on environmental issues, the wellbeing of society and female empowerment. The sussexroyal.com website says: ‘The call to protect our environment is more urgent now than at any other time in human history.

‘The Duke of Sussex believes that we can meet the challenges by working together to build truly sustainable communities.’

Harry’s work to protect the environment in Africa, including his role as president of African Parks, is lauded as an example of his green credentials alongside his ‘Travalyst’ initiative, which seeks to change how travel impacts local communities. He has also backed other African initiatives, including Rhino Conservation Botswana and education projects in Uganda.

The website also notes that Meghan is ‘deeply committed to advancing gender equity, empowering women and girls, and working within the community on a grassroots level to encourage women to recognise their inherent value’.

The duchess has shown an interest in the arts and animal welfare and, in a nod to her past career, she became patron of the National Theatre last January.

Last year the Sussexes said they would set up their own foundation, although no details have been announced. The couple have registered the ‘Sussex Royal’ brand as a trademark for more than 100 products, ranging from counselling services to books and clothing. A number of the trademarks concern campaigning and fundraising and could provide a platform to any charity.

 

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