Prince Harry and Meghan have confirmed their final split from the Royal Family one year after stepping away as “senior royals” but say they will continue a “life of service” in their own way.
Buckingham Palace broke the news first, releasing a statement saying the Royal Family was “saddened” by the decision which will see the pair lose their honorary military appointments and royal patronages.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family,” the palace said.
“While all are saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.
“The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the royal family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service,” the palace said.
The news comes as the Queen’s 99-year-old husband – and Harry’s grandfather – Prince Philip is in hospital and expected to remain there until next week and after the couple announced they were expecting another baby.
Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, sent shockwaves through the monarchy in January 2020 by suddenly announcing they were splitting from the family and embarking on a new future across the Atlantic Ocean – one of the most extraordinary royal exits in decades.
Under a deal brokered by the Queen last year, the Sussexes got their freedom from royal duties but had to agree not to use the word “royal” in their branding and a 12-month review was agreed.
That split has now been formalised after discussions with the 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth.
The decision amounts to an abdication from the royal family whose senior members such as the Queen have long prioritised duty and service above personal wishes.
Harry and Meghan released their own statement afterwards saying through a spokesman they remained committed to service.
“As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role,” the spokesman said.
“We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role.”
Harry and Meghan are due to appear on Oprah Winfrey in March, their first sit-down interview since moving to North America and will have more freedom to talk once they are no longer constrained by the palace.
The Palace confirmed the pair will lose their associations with The Royal Marines, RAF Honington, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving as well as with The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, The Rugby Football Union, The Rugby Football League and The Royal National Theatre.
These will revert to the Queen and will be distributed among other family members.
They will retain their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles, and Prince Harry is still sixth in line to the British throne.
Harry and Meghan moved with their son Archie to California to live a more independent life and escape the British media.
They announced on Sunday that they were expecting another baby.