How Harry And Meghan Will Survive As Non-Royals
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they will 'step down' as senior royals to pursue financial independence -- but logistically speaking, what does this actually involve?
To shine some light on the complicated situation, 10 daily spoke to royal expert Gavin Grey about what we can expect next from the disruptive royal couple.
The surprise news came via an Instagram post on Thursday morning from the royal couple's official account, where they confirmed their intentions to split their time between the UK and North America.
"We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen" read the statement alongside a photo of their pair holding hands and smiling.
"It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages."
Buckingham Palace issued their own statement shortly after, revealing that "discussions" were only in early stages.
The statement read: "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's transition towards "a progressive new role within this institution" is an unprecedented move. And it appears that the palace and the public are equally as in the dark in regards to what the future has in store.
Royal expert Gavin Grey has weighed in on the situation, which he describes as "a seismic change beyond which I think we’ve seen for many many years in the royal family."
How will they make money?
The desire to be financially independent appears to be a major driving force behind the couple's decision, leaving many questioning how it is they plan to support themselves and their family once they break away from their tax-payer funded lifestyles.
"Harry gets roughly five million pounds (eight million Australian dollars) a year in terms of a grant from his father Prince Charles, and also the tax payer," Grey said.
The expert estimates that Harry's total personal fortune is roughly between 38 to 40 million Australian dollars, and Meghan's is between five or six million.
Aside from his royal duties, Prince Harry's only other 'job' has been with the British Army, where he served for 10 years and undertook two tours of Afghanistan.
Before marrying Harry, Meghan was an actress on the popular American television series 'Suits'.
"I suppose in theory, she could go back to acting," said Grey. "But consider every role that she undertook, every line of her script would have to be very very carefully [vetted] if she were to go back to acting for any sort of nuance that there might be about the royal family or any particular comment about anyone in the royal family."
Security is thought to be the most costly factor in their transition.
"They have roughly six full time bodyguards, with each one, I reckon, on an annual salary of about $140,000," Grey said.
"Now if those bodyguards have to spend time here in the UK and Canada, that is going to be colossally expensive and if they are going to be self-sufficient, they’ll have to pay that for themselves."
At this stage, it's not clear what financial ventures the couple will take up to support themselves, but returning to their pre-marriage careers does not appear to be an option.
Where will they live?
In their statement, the couple outlined that they will be balancing their lives between the UK and North America.
And after their recent six week sabbatical to Vancouver Island, and Meghan's own previous residence, many are speculating they will soon call Canada home.
Grey believes that California is another likely option, largely due to Meghan's close relationship with her mother, Doria Ragland, who lives in the American state. But LA life might not suit the couple's desire for privacy.
"Security in California would be colossally difficult for them to achieve and I also sense, although California is a big place in its own right, it may not afford the privacy that they are desperately trying to seek," Grey said.
"Whereas Canada with its huge open reaches with very little population, I would suggest is probably going to be something that they’re more interested in."
Will they be stripped of their royal titles?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a history of rejecting royal titles.
In May 2019 they gave birth to their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. He was given no royal title, despite protocol that entitles him to take on his father's earldom and become the Earl of Dumbarton.
It was reported at the time that Meghan and Harry decided against giving their son a royal title in the hope he may live a more 'normal' life.
In December last year, well before the recent news broke, a petition organised by two city councils, both based in East Sussex, called upon the Queen to strip Harry and Meghan of their royal titles. It attracted thousands of signatures but went no further.
Grey believes that the couple's claim to royal titles hangs in the balance: "I think the likelihood is if he’s going to do royal duties, then I think he will retain that royal name and the royal title."
"But on the other hand, if they are to completely cut themselves off, then perhaps that would be something different again," Grey said.
What about their charities?
The couple's statement made mention of their plan to continue to "honour" their patronages, and also launch their "new charitable entity."
Meghan and Harry, both philanthropists in their own right, are patrons to a number of charities and organisations.
Despite the couple's claim that they will uphold their ties to their patronages, Grey is critical about their ability to feasibly do so.
"How often can you be a good patron to all the charities that you promised to help here in the UK?," he asked.
There's no information at this stage regarding what to expect from the pair's new charitable venture, with their statement reading: "We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course."
What does this mean for their relationship with the Queen and the rest of the royal family?
There's been rumours of a 'royal rift' between Harry and his brother William since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex' for months now. Grey believes that plenty has happened to substantiate, rather than deny, these claims.
"My sources say have said that when Prince William first met Meghan, he did take Harry to one side and said: 'Are you sure this is right? An actress, like this, an American like this, they don’t always understand what we're about in the royal family.'
"My sources said that went down very very badly with Prince Harry who thought his brother was trying to intervene in his getting married."
It has long been reported that the Queen is not as close to Archie as she is her other great grandchildren, and Grey believes this is likely because she has not been given the time.
He thinks it "may have hurt the Queen" when Meghan, Harry and Archie spent Christmas in Canada.
"It was interesting to see that on the Christmas Day message, there were no pictures on the Queen’s desk of Harry and Meghan," Grey said.
"Perhaps that was a foretaste for what we’re now seeing."
While the royal family have certainly seen their fair share of scandal and disruption, even in the last few months alone, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's announcement comes as completely unprecedented, brand new territory.
Royal expert Gavin Grey agrees, stating: "In a sense the royal family is quite dysfunctional, but what they are quite good at operating what they call ‘the firm’."
"In other words, the whole operation of being a royal family and this has thrown one almighty spoke in the wheel."
Featured image: Getty
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