It’s been one year since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry surprised the world with their bombshell announcement to step back as senior members of the British royal family. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced the news on January 8, 2020, just one day after they returned to royal duties following a six-week break. On their now-defunct Sussex Royal Instagram account, the couple said, “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.”
In their announcement, the couple expressed their desire to continue to fully support the Queen and balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America. “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,” Meghan and Harry explained.
Following a summit with Queen Elizabeth, it was agreed that the Sussexes would step back from royal duties, including official military appointments, and would no longer receive public funds, nor use their HRH styles, which they retained, since they are no longer working members of the royal family. Buckingham Palace revealed that with the Queen’s blessing, the Duke and Duchess were allowed to maintain their private patronages and associations. The palace said, “While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.”
“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” the monarch said in a statement on January 18, 2020. “I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life. I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family. It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”
Meghan and Harry’s revised new roles went into effect in the spring of 2020, allowing them to “become privately funded members of The Royal Family with permission to earn their own income and the ability to pursue their own private charitable interests.” On their old website, the Sussexes noted: “While there is precedent for other titled members of the Royal Family to seek employment outside of the institution, for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a 12-month review period has been put in place.”
Since stepping back, Meghan and Harry have purchased their first home together, a multi-million dollar Montecito property, which they, along with son Archie, moved into back in July. A source previously told HOLA! USA’s sister brand HELLO!, “They are now in their own family home, which they haven‘t had properly before,” adding, “It’s theirs, it’s their forever home, where they are going to base themselves.”
Over the course of the last year, the Duke and Duchess have signed with the Harry Walker Agency for speaking engagements, inked a deal with Netflix and announced a “multi-year partnership” with Spotify. Meghan and Harry also created their Archewell organization, which includes Archewell Productions to produce programming, their audio-first production company Archewell Audio and their impact-driven non-profit, Archewell Foundation. “At Archewell, we unleash the power of compassion to drive systemic cultural change,” the Archewell site states. “We do this through our non-profit work within Archewell Foundation 501(c)(3), in addition to creative activations through the business verticals of audio and production.”