The bombshell, when it dropped, resonated around the world. No more HRH – from now on it’s all about Harry and Meghan.
‘We intend to step back as “senior” members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent,’ Harry and Meghan announced, ‘while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.’
But the furore about the devastating impact on the British monarchy – and their ‘betrayal’ of the Queen – has simply served to push them further away.
And now, friends say, an even more shocking scenario is up for discussion: the very real possibility that Harry and Meghan may be gone for good.
‘The way she feels right now, the last thing Meghan ever wants to do is come back to these shores,’ a well-placed source tells our sister publication Woman. ‘If she felt upset before they made their announcement, that was nothing compared to how she feels now.
‘Harry would lay down his life to protect Meghan and Archie, and if Meghan says she wants to stay away for good, then he will look to do that, no matter his feelings.’
But is it what Harry really wants to do? The source continues, ‘Harry is heartbroken. He is torn between a sense of duty and the love for his family versus his own life with Meghan and Archie. Would he have chosen to do this if it wasn’t for Meghan? Some commentators would say absolutely not, but that we will never know…’
Harry, who has long strained at the leash of royal responsibility, is now trying to renegotiate the rules of engagement.
Meghan, a self-made woman, has inspired her husband to take control of his own life and if that means bucking protocol, then so be it.
And if the terms offered by the Royal Family are not up to scratch, the couple could be prepared to pull the plug on Britain altogether.
‘Harry has always felt most at ease when he’s travelling the world,’ says the source. ‘Africa is his happy place, where he can make a real difference to people’s lives and, just as importantly, completely relax.
‘He has found the same feeling in Canada with Meghan and Archie. Just being out of the goldfish bowl for a few weeks was a complete revelation. That’s how they want to live all the time – with a feeling of freedom.’
Meghan’s half-sister, Samantha Markle, thinks this decision to start a new life was all down to the actress, explaining, ‘I feel, and it appeared outwardly that she did enjoy it when there was the “fab four” and there were the photographs of her hair blowing in the wind and the smiling and the waving and the contrived British accent. It was all seemingly great and wonderful then, but when the public began to criticise some of the expenditures and behaviours and protocol that had been broken, the tune changed.’
To move to Canada will take money. But experts have predicted that the pair could quickly accumulate a £400 million fortune by cashing in on their global fame. Something many find difficult to align with their very public quest for privacy.
Both Harry and Meghan could command million-dollar fees for speaking engagements, which would arguably benefit more charitable projects dear to their hearts, such as the Invictus Games.
But why now? What has changed in their lives to prompt such a drastic step? Look no further than Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, who Harry and Meghan welcomed into the world amid such secrecy last May.
Claims Harry was worried about being frozen out of the new ‘slimmed-down’ monarchy are wide of the mark. It is his son he worries about. ‘Harry doesn’t want Archie to become some low-ranking royal,’ says our source.
‘He has the chance to make something special of his life, without the royal headaches that have often made Harry miserable. Whether the extremes they have gone to are worth it and no matter who is pushing the accelerator on their exit – Harry will stick by his wife whatever the cost. It’s a massive thing to do and the devastation it has caused for relationships with his blood relatives is nothing short of catastrophic, but he has Archie now to think of too and that’s key. They have high hopes for him. Not to mention any little brothers or sisters who may come along!’
And with her 40th birthday looming next year, Meghan may be keen to add to their brood as quickly as possible. Though it seems very likely any future children of Harry and Meghan will not call the United Kingdom their permanent home, after staff at Frogmore Cottage were ‘moved’, following the announcement of their plans to step back.
According to reports, staff – including a house manager and cleaner – will be posted in other areas within royal households, as Meghan and Harry are now beginning their new lives in Canada.