The British Royal Family was thrown into turmoil when Prince Harry announced to the world that he and his wife, Meghan, were stepping down from their roles as “senior” members of the Royal Family. The monarchy was officially in a state of crisis, with rumors in the media about how this transition was going to happen and who knew about this before the announcement.
Most importantly, it’s who didn’t know about this announcement, and that the answer to that is – no one in the Royal Family. However, now that some time has passed, Prince William has finally opened up about Harry’s departure – and what he had to share was downright devastating.
As we all know now, Harry and Meghan have decided to walk away from some of their royal responsibilities and in turn become a more independent couple. The shocking news was announced on January 8, 2020 when Harry and Meghan took to Instagram, an unusual move, and made their lengthy statement.
They started their post with: “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.”
The post continued: “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.”
What “financially independent” means for them is that they will no longer be funded by the Royal Family and will have to find income independently.
They stated that they will be splitting their time between the United Kingdom and North America. Their post went into greater detail about their decision, saying:
“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.”
The couple finished off their announcement by saying, “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.”
As the world read this announcement, a state of shock went through the public in the United Kingdom. What’s even more shocking is that the Royal Family didn’t know about this announcement either, they read it for the first time along with the rest of the world.
The news took the world by storm, and the media made quick work with trying to find out more information. It was the press that let the world know just how deep this shock was to the Royal Family. Johnny Dymond, a royal correspondent for the BBC posted the following message on Twitter.
“BBC understands that no other member of the royal family was consulted before Harry and Meghan issued their personal statement tonight. The Palace is understood to be ‘disappointed.’”
The fact that the Royal Family didn’t know was seemingly confirmed when they made a short announcement of their own after Harry and Meghan’s.
“Discussion with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand the desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
What does this mean for William? The brothers were incredibly close growing up, especially after the passing of their mother, Princess Diana. It was William who pushed Harry to seek therapy as young adults.
Mental health is something the two focus on a lot in their philanthropic work as they went through the struggles themselves.
However, months before the announcement was made, there were rumors that there was a rift between William and Harry and that they have been fighting amongst themselves.
Katie Nicholl, a Royal Family expert, told Entertainment Tonight in June of 2019, “It’s absolutely the case that the brothers did fall out. I was told by a very senior royal source that actually they weren’t talking to each other at one point.”
The same day that Harry and Meghan’s announcement hit, an anonymous source essentially confirmed the broken relationship between the brothers. They spoke with Us Weekly and said:
“William was blindsided by Harry and Meghan’s decision and statement… There’s still a rift between the two brothers. It’s sad because when they were younger, William would be the first person Harry would go to with big news like this.”
William was reportedly far from alone in his shock at this announcement. The Daily Mail – the same news publication that Harry and Meghan took legal action against in October 2019 – spoke with a royal aide who confirmed that the deception was done to all.
“The level of deceit has been staggering, and everyone from the top of the royal household to the bottom feels like they have been stabbed in the back.”
Another insider spoke with another British publication, The Sun, about the royal’s reaction to the announcement, and it was not a favorable one in the least.
“There is fury over how [Meghan and Harry have] done this without any thought for the implications for the institution. The Queen is deeply upset. The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge are incandescent with rage… There are so many unanswered questions, but they’ve just up and done it without a thought for anyone else.”
Adding insult to injury, Harry and Meghan’s stunning announcement came just hours before they posted yet again, wishing Kate Middleton a happy birthday. Meghan posted on Instagram, “Wishing a very happy birthday to The Duchess of Cambridge today!”
However, behind the scenes, the Royal Family was in total chaos at the news and were not at all amused with the birthday wishes.
Yet another anonymous source came forward to speak with Us Weekly, saying, “Harry and Meghan rubbed salt into the wounds by making the huge announcement a day before Kate’s birthday. It hasn’t gone down well with William.”
Whether you are a part of the Royal Family or not, making such an announcement before a birthday is not a very sensitive thing to d0.
There were those who defended Harry and Meghan, though. Correspondent Tom Bradby spole with ITV in England on January 10th and said that there was “really bad personal splits” among the Royal Family.
He continued by saying, “There’ve been a lot of fallouts. A lot of harsh things were said around the time of [Harry and Meghan’s] wedding.”
Bradby went on to say, “And certainly the rest of the family find Harry and Meghan very difficult. [But] from Harry and Meghan’s point of view, they’re just being driven out, as they see it. And it’s sad.”
There was no specific mention of William in his words, he did not say whether or not “the rest of the family” included William or not.
The very day of the announcement, Meghan left the United Kingdom and flew to Canada along with their son, Archie. It was said that Meghan was supposed to return a few days later, but the public didn’t wait to take to social media with their speculations.
This was something so unexpected that the speculation was running wild among the public trying to make sense of what just happened to the monarchy.
During this time, Harry’s friend JJ Chalmers argued Harry and Meghan’s case on British television. He was on the BBC show The One Show, when he said, “The decision that he has made… At the forefront of that is to protect his family, because… the number one rule is to be a father and to be a husband. Any husband wants to protect their wife, and any father wants to protect their children.”
When the rest of the world was looking at Harry in accusatory eyes, his friend’s remarks were one of the only good things that were said about the couple.
Chalmers went on to imply that the reason the couple wanted to the country was also due to the press in the country and how aggressive they are, especially for Harry whose own mother was killed in a car accident that was paparazzi related.
“When [Harry] looks at how the media, for example, reacts and how social media talks about someone, he has to answer to his son one day when he begins to understand this and be able to look him in the face and say, ‘I made the right decision, and I did right by you.’ And ultimately, he grew up in the limelight, and he knows how this can end if it’s not handled correctly.”
From the very beginning of Harry and Meghan’s relationship, the media has been on their trail. Harry’s relationship with the media has always been a complicated one, so this was not easy for him from the get go.
After he began dating Meghan in 2016, he went as far as to make a public statement criticizing the press for the way they treated Meghan in their publications. Harry said that Meghan had “been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment.”
Meghan also found it hard to deal with the British press. She spoke with Tom Bradby in October 2019 for his documentary on them called Harry and Meghan: An African Journey. She was filmed as she was answering Bradby’s questions.
She said, “When people are saying things that are just untrue – they’ve been told they’re untrue but they’re still allowed to say them… I don’t know anyone in the world that would feel like that’s okay.”
In this documentary, Harry confirmed for the very first time that he and his brother had been drifting from each other.
He said, “Part of this role and part of this job, this family, being under the pressure that it’s under – inevitably stuff happens. But look: we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers.”
Harry continued by saying, “[William and I are] certainly on different paths at the moment, but I’ll always be there for him. And as I know, he’ll always be there for me. We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy, but I love him dearly.
The majority of this stuff [in the press] is created out of nothing. But as brothers, you know, you have good days [and] you have bad days.”
So, was the day that Harry made the announcement (January 8, 2020) a good day or a very bad one for the prince brother’s relationship? The public was very curious as to what the answer to this was, and an answer did in fact arrive on January 12th.
On that day, The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, revealed what they say are William’s candid words about the matter.
The newspaper stated that William spoke with a close friend of his in private about what some were calling “Megxit.” Unfortunately for William, his words made their way to the printed press.
William allegedly said, “I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives, and I can’t do that anymore; we’re separate entities.”
Despite that, William said that he feels hope that all of this will work out somehow in the end.
He reportedly said, “All we can do – and all I can do – is try and support [Harry and Meghan] and hope that the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the team.”
The day of the shocking announcement, the Queen took quick action and called a Royal summit for the senior members of the Royal Family to gather and discuss the matter.
The meeting was said to include herself, Prince Charles, William, and Harry. Meghan was supposed to join by way of conference line from Canada where she was with Archie.
About this meeting, a source told People Magazine, “Following a series of meetings and consultations across the last few days, there is a range of possibilities for the family to review which take into account the thinking the Sussexes outlined earlier in the week.
As we have said previously, making a change to the working life and role of the monarchy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex requires complex and thoughtful discussions.”
The source continued, “Next steps will be agreed at the meeting. The request for this to be resolved ‘at pace’ is still Her Majesty’s wish. The aim remains days, not weeks. There is genuine agreement and understanding that any decision will take time to be implemented.”
This sounded like a promising path to move ahead on, things needed to happen fast in order to give the impression of stability.
In a surprising turn, William and Harry came out with a joint statement in order to make clear that there was a false story out there, and they were not about to let it continue.
“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a U.K. newspaper today speculating about the relationship between the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cambridge.”
Their statement continued, “For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”
It seemed then that the rumors were wrong and that there was nothing wrong with the two brother’s relationship. They were presenting a united front despite it all.
Rebecca English, a royal correspondent used Twitter to share some of her own insight as to this situation.
She said, “It’s clear from my conversations this morning that BOTH brothers are deeply, deeply unhappy about suggestions that Harry feels he has been ‘bullied’ out of the royal family by William.”
On January 18th, the Queen released a statement through the Palace in an attempt to calm the waters and advise the public about their relationship status.
Her statement started by saying, “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.”
The Queen’s official words continued by saying, “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved members of the family. I recognize 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…
It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”
So what did the Royal Family decide on? Well, a more detailed statement from the Palace cleared up some issues by sayng, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the royal family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.
As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for royal duties.”
The message went on to say, “With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations.
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.”
On January 19th, Harry attended an event for his charity, Sentebale. It was there that he spoke out himself, saying, “The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges.
And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.”
He added, “I will always have the utmost respect for my grandmother – my commander-in-chief. And I am incredibly grateful to her and the rest of my family for the support they have shown Meghan and I over the last few months.
I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear and dedicates his life to supporting the causes, charities and military communities that are so important to me.”
And with that, that was it. In fact, The Sun reported on January 20th that Harry and William reconciled behind closed doors.
According to a “senior royal source,” the two brothers had “spent time together privately away from the official Sandringham summit, working on their relationship and discussing their future.”
The source continued, “Given Harry is now permanently moving away, there was a realization [that] if [he and William] didn’t sort things out now, they never would.
Of course, there have been serious differences in opinions, but the family warmth is back.” This seems like the right path for both men.
There are more changes coming for the British Royal Family. The Queen will not remain on the throne forever and with that means a shift in the monarchy. She will step down at some point, leaving the throne for her son, Prince Charles.
There are rumors that there are those who want her out of the throne now. Royal officials who heard this rumor and thought about it, had one very important thing to say on the matter.
The Queen has been on the throne for nearly 68 years. At the age of 93, she is due to step down in the relatively near future. Additionally, Prince Charles has been taking more and more of her responsibilities as he is being groomed for the throne.
The Queen recently took the spotlight to talk about her future plans, you see, she isn’t done being Queen just yet.
There has been a lot of talk about how Charles in a “shadow king,” and that he is set to ascend the throne when the Queen turns 95, which is set to happen in April 2021.
It is not a common thing for a monarch to step down and aside for a regent to take the control but the possibility exists and so it could very well happen.
Even if Charles would become what is known as the Prince Regent, it would not mean the Queen Elizabeth would not be the top member of the Royal Family anymore. No, she would still hold her position as the head of the British state and continue to be Queen.
Charles would take over King duties but would not have the title quite yet.
The British people were not that happy about that thought, though. In June 2019, a poll was taken. It showed that almost half of the public would like Charles to not take the throne but rather give it directly to William to be King.
While this is all nice for the public to want, it is highly unlikely that Charles would allow that to happen, no matter how much the public wants it.
There is more than one person who can agree to have Charles as regent. The Queen needs to have the agreement of a long list of people in order to appoint Charles in that way.
The agreement needs to be secure and legitimate for the law to uphold it. There is a lot of hoops to jump through.
Three out of a specific group of five individuals need to agree in unison that the Queen is no longer fit to rule. The first of these persons is the Queen’s spouse, also known as Prince Phillip.
The next individual is the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Lord Chief Justice, and the Master of the Rolls.
Sally Bedell Smith, an American biographer of the Royal Family, spoke with USA today back in 2016. She pointed out that “the evidence of physicians is required to make the judgement of incapacity.
In other words, there is a set procedure, and it is something that wouldn’t be invoked lightly. It’s a big deal.”