She later ordered royal aids to thrash out the details of their transition “within days”. A sticking point might be how much money they request from Prince Charles, and whether they can keep their rent-free UK home, Frogmore Cottage.
Constitutional experts latched onto the fact that the statement twice used the couple’s first names as evidence that they might be stripped of their titles.
“I do think it was very striking, particularly in a statement from the Queen,” royal commentator Victoria Arbiter tweeted. “Are they having to give up their titles? This would be an indication they are...” Harry’s mother, Diana had to give up her HRH title, but remained ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’.
The statement also acknowledges that they will be financially independent, seemingly allowing them to sign commercial deals that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Meghan’s representatives are reportedly already negotiating deals with major TV networks for in-depth interviews and possible talk shows.
Footage emerged this week of Prince Harry suggesting to Disney boss Bob Iger that he give Meghan a job. At last year’s Lion King premiere, the prince is hear saying, “You know she does voice-overs?” Iger replies, “Oh, really?” Harry then goes on, “Did you know that?” and Iger responds, “I did not know that.” Harry then whispers, “You seemed surprised, but yeah, she’s really interested.”
Hours before the Sandringham meeting, The Times reported that Harry felt “pushed away from the royal family by the bullying attitude of his brother, the Duke of Cambridge.” The article prompted an angry response from both princes, who rushed out an extraordinary joint statement: “Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a U.K. newspaper today speculating about the relationship between the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cambridge. For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”
Privately, some senior royals blame Meghan for pushing Harry to choose between his family and her, and are worried about his mental health. Royal author Penny Junor thinks the Queen was anxious to take some of the pressure off his shoulders.
“They’re in a very vulnerable state at the moment,” she said. “I think they’re unhappy, they feel isolated and unloved, unappreciated and they needed careful handling. My reading from that statement is that the family has been sensitive to their vulnerability.’
After reports broke that Meghan had begun discussions with US TV networks, Oprah Winfrey, who attended the couple’s wedding and is friends with Meghan’s mum, Doria Ragland, was forced to deny that she had persuaded Meghan to quit.
“Meghan and Harry do not need my help in figuring out what’s best for them,” she said. “I care about them both and support whatever decisions they make for their family.”
Oprah’s best friend, and CBS anchor Gayle King is another front runner to land the exclusive chat, but she is staying tight-lipped. “Gayle says she has had absolutely no conversations with Meghan & Harry (or their representatives) about doing an interview with them,” her representative told The Sun.
The couple’s decision last week to stand down as senior royals blindsided everyone, including The Queen. Yet the signs that the couple were going to take “the nuclear option” were there. Meghan even alluded to it in her infamous interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby during their trip to South Africa in October last year. “It’s not enough just to survive something, right? That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive,” she said. “I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried. But I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging.”
Speaking last week, Bradby said that “there have been a lot of fallouts” ever since Meghan came into the picture. “A lot of harsh things were said around the time of the wedding. And it’s gone a bit too far. Certainly, the rest of the family find Harry and Meghan very difficult and, from Harry and Meghan’s point of view, they’re just being driven out as they see it. It’s sad. My impression is they’re pretty philosophical about it. [It’s] ‘We are making a break for independence and freedom here. You wanted a slimmed-down monarchy. There’s no place for us in it. We need to learn to live on our own. We want to get on and do that.”
He added ominously that if they did do a no-holds-barred interview, “I don’t think it would be pretty. This is a new war of the Windsors. It’s not over yet.”
Meghan’s happiness does indeed seem to be a key factor in their efforts to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” as the couple’s statement read. “Everyone is convinced Meghan is the driving force behind this move to quit the royal family,” a source previously close to Harry told the New York Post. “She is the one who most wants to be back living in Canada and California, where she feels happy, and to bring their son up away from the restrictive and intrusive politics of Buckingham Palace.”
As for their working life, the couple could take up paid positions, but it seems more likely they’ll start their own empire, having already filed paperwork to trademark Sussex Royal for more than 100 items including magazines, calendars, posters, greeting cards, pyjamas, hoodies, gloves and socks.
“The possibilities right now are endless for them,” Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan tells WHO, noting they will “without a doubt” have the opportunity to make “millions and maybe hundreds of millions of dollars.” Additionally, a book deal would be lucrative, says Regan, “if they can really provide insight into what life is like as a royal. Another obvious thing might be something like a talk show.”
The first details about what the media have dubbed ‘Megxit’ are expected to emerge in the next few days.