Megxit, Explained


Credit: Official Website of the Prince of Wales

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have recently announced that they will step back as active members of the UK’s royal family. The couple will no longer live off the royal family’s publicly-sourced funds and will split their time between Vancouver and the UK.

“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,” said Queen Elizabeth in a Jan. 18 statement posted to Harry and Meghan’s joint Instagram account. “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.”

Much of their work as a couple has been with organizations such as the HALO Trust and Walking With the Wounded. HALO’s mission is to remove war debris and Walking With the Wounded aims to help former soldiers. Harry himself spent nearly 10 years in the military from 2005 to 2015, and that may be why the couple focuses on efforts aiding veterans and war zones.

Harry and Meghan will repay the public more than $3.2 million dollars for the renovations on their UK home, Frogmore Cottage. In addition, they will keep their titles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but will no longer be referred to as, “their royal highnesses.” According to Today, the Prince will keep his place as sixth in the line of succession.

The decision comes after years of intense media scrutiny and pressure on the couple. Since their marriage on May 19, 2018 and the birth of their son, Archie, on May 6, 2019, the couple has been under the media spotlight.

The media pressure was noted by Buckingham Palace as early as 2016, and a statement was released saying, “Meghan Markle has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”

Many have compared the media’s treatment of Ms. Markle to the heavy media pressure on the late Princess Diana, Harry’s mother. She and Harry’s father, Prince Charles, famously divorced in 1996. In August 1997, months after the divorce, the driver of the car Princess Diana was in lost control at high speed as they entered a tunnel in Paris. Diana and one other passengers, Dodi Fayed, were killed as a result of their injuries. According to the BBC, a key reason the car went out of control was that the driver was trying to speed away from a relentless group of paparazzi who had been following them. Prince Harry was 12, and his brother William was 15.

Many also believe that much of the scrutiny around Markle’s involvement in the Royal family is because she is American. Others, like CC Gray ’21, an American student from Washington, DC, think Meghan’s prior fame as an actress added to the stress of being a Royal.

“I think a big part of it is Meghan,” she said. “I don’t think she adjusted as well to being a Royal as Kate [Middleton] did. I feel like its because she already had a lot of publicity because she was in [USA Network show] ‘Suits’.”

CC also acknowledged the impact of Princess Diana’s death on Harry. “I think that him considering the loss of his mother is big for him,” she said.

While they will continue to live part time in the UK, the family will now reside mainly in Vancouver, Canada.

Queen Elizabeth is not just the queen of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, according to the Commonwealth of Nations website. The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of 53 countries. Most of these nations are former members of the British Empire, but all are now sovereign nations voluntarily part of the Commonwealth. Sixteen of the 53, however, while still independent states, are known as Commonwealth Realms.

In these states, Queen Elizabeth remains the constitutional monarch. This means that, technically, she is not only the queen of the UK but also 16 other states including Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand, and Canada. Despite her position being essentially that of a figure head, it is the Queen’s legal authority as Canada’s monarch that permits Meghan and Harry to live in Canada.

On January 19, Prince Harry released a statement 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 . . . there really was no other option. . . . I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.”