By Adela Begum, BA Politics and International Relations
Never the family to be concealed from media attention, another royal shock recently hit the news. It was not long ago that the palace was in the spotlight due to allegations against Prince Andrew in his relation to the Epstein scandal. Now it is another prince and a duchess who have made the headlines.
A fortnight ago, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, released an unexpected statement through the unconventional means of Instagram announcing withdrawal from their position as senior royals. The Sussexes took to the platform, reportedly without informing the Queen or any member of the royal family, to express their desire for a ‘progressive new role’ within the institution.
Already a symbol of a new era, their decision has laid a blueprint for a subsequent royal generation to challenge and push boundaries within the establishment.
Anger poured on Meghan and flooded mainstream British media. This Morning host, Eamon Holmes, slammed the duchess as ‘weak’ and ‘manipulative,’ while frequent critic Piers Morgan branded her as a ‘piece of work’ and a ‘spoilt brat’. Larger institutions also demonstrated disapproval, one example being the decision by Madame Tussauds to immediately remove the wax figure of the royal couple.
Talks between the Queen and the Sussexes concluded after ten days. Both sides finally agreed that by spring 2020 the couple will no longer officially represent the Queen or hold their HRH titles, and they will repay the £2.4 million in taxpayer funds that was spent on renovating their home in Windsor. The Queen released a statement thanking them for their ‘dedicated work’ and expressing ‘support’ for their ‘wish for a more independent life’. Moving forward, the royal couple seeks to divide their residence between their homes in the UK and Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the new transition but raised concerns over the issue of funds for the couple’s security, a negotiation which remains to be disclosed.
After only a year and a half into royal marriage, the couple took a bold move to step down. The prince, who has been outspoken against media attention, looks to protect his family from ‘the same powerful forces’ that led to his mother’s death. Royal watchers will not miss the resonance with that of Harry’s great-great Uncle, Edward VIII, who also sacrificed service to royalty for love and family. Already a symbol of a new era, their decision has laid a blueprint for a subsequent royal generation to challenge and push boundaries within the establishment.
The decision has been coined as ‘Megxit’, and comes at a time where the future will undoubtedly bring change to the British monarchy and to the UK.