Whether you’re a royalist or a republican (not to be confused with the US political party), you’ve likely been caught up in the media frenzy surrounding The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
More specifically, their plans to depart The Royal Family less than a year after they tied the knot at Windsor Castle and subsequently renovated Frogmore Cottage on the taxpayer’s dime.
It’s been near-impossible to avoid. Whether you like it or not Meghan and Harry are the crème-de-la-crème of dinner table small talk.
But as we wait with bated breath to see what the future of the monarchy holds, it can be overwhelming to digest the jargon and idiosyncrasies associated with the House of Windsor.
To help you avoid making a royal faux pas the next time Meghan, Harry and Archie come up in polite chit-chat with your family member, friend, colleague and/or acquaintance, we’ve collated the ‘must-knows’ into a handy cheat sheet to #megxit.
It’s just like frantically scouring SparkNotes the night before your final English exam, only way less stressful (maybe).
So, what’s happened?
In a nutshell, the events described below have led to the circumstances where Meghan and Harry currently find themselves.
In a statement published to Instagram on Thursday 9 January 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their intentions to step away from their roles as senior members of The Royal Family.
Instead, they wish to enter a more progressive position while still supporting Her Majesty The Queen. The pair cited their desire to raise son baby Archie under the royal tradition as well as Meghan’s American heritage, while also providing the Sussexes with the “space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”
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“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, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. 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. 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. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
Who are the senior royals?
Prior to #megxit, the senior, working royals comprised of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh (Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip); The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles and Camilla); and The Dukes and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex (Prince William and Catherine, and Prince Harry and Meghan respectively).
It’s most easily identifiable as the line of succession to the throne, despite the fact that as sixth-in-line to the thrown (after Kate and Will’s children) it’s highly unlikely Harry would ever ascend to King.
These are the members of the British Royal Family (BRF) who undertake duties on behalf of The Queen, undertake tours of Commonwealth nations and whose sole work is to be a Royal Family member. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, for example, are not senior members of the royal family despite the fact they will, on occasion, represent Her Majesty and attend events alongside The Queen.
Under the new agreement – struck with The Queen and announced on Saturday – Harry and Meghan will retain their titles as The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Harry will remain a prince. But the pair will no longer be working members of The Royal Family, will no longer use their Royal Highness (HRH) titles, will no longer take part in ceremonial events or royal tours, and will pay their own way in life.
But why would they want to leave?
You could speculate a plethora of reasons as to why the pair would wish to leave the BRF, but there are a few theories that hold particularly strong:
Racism directed at Meghan
Scroll through Piers Morgan’s Twitter feed, flick through a Daily Mail newspaper, or take a look at the fan pages for the Cambridge family and the vitriol directed at Meghan is palpable. You can read more about the plethora of hate directed at Meghan here but essentially, British tabloid media has been aggressive in its treatment of Meghan and the Sussexes more generally, which leads us to our next point.
The Sussexes call Frogmore Cottage in Windsor home and in 2018 it underwent substantial renovations to prepare the house for the new family ahead of baby Archie’s arrival.
This came – like many a royal venture – at the expense of the British taxpayer. Suddenly, everyone lost their minds and forgot that William and Catherine also chose to renovate their home at Kensington Palace on the taxpayer’s pound back in 2012.
Similarly, Harry and Meghan chose to holiday abroad and caught a carbon-offset flight to Spain, paid for by none other than Elton John. Once again, the uproar was unprecedented considering the Cambridge family often holiday abroad without anyone batting an eyelid.
It’s easy to see how the disparity in criticisms levelled at the pair would cause discomfort as it continued to ramp up rather than wind down.
Because Canada is a cool country to live in and maybe Meghan wants to be closer to her Mum?
Ice hockey, maple syrup, Justin Trudeau, Celine Dion… the reasons to move to Canada are seemingly endless. Also, it’s just a nine-hour flight from Vancouver to London which – as we as Australians should know – really isn’t that long.
Has this ever happened before?
Technically no. But there is King Edward VIII, who the couple have been compared to in the past.
In order to marry American-divorcee Wallis Simpson, King Edward VIII was required to abdicate the throne as King and renounce many royal privileges. In 1936, Edward chose love over duty and subsequently, the couple spent the remainder of their life together exiled in France following a stint in the Bahamas and unfavourable behaviour during the World War II. The pair held the now defunct title of Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
While Harry isn’t abdicating the BRF Throne as King, he is withdrawing from the institution in which he has been raised and shunning himself from much tradition and revere in the process.
So, will we see Meghan portraying herself in season eight of The Crown?
We can only hope? (Hello Netflix executives, please work your magic on this one).
Image by Rachael Sharman