By Maggie Crowe, Staff Writer
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently announced they would be stepping back as senior members of the British royal family, and although the unprecedented decision has drawn mass criticism, it is the right move for the young royals.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are the first members of the royal family to ever resign, if partially, and it has not been an announcement without controversy. Harry and Meghan released their official statement on their Instagram and website on Jan. 8. They detail their plans briefly, stating they will no longer fulfill a number of royal obligations, while still remaining loyal to the Queen. This initial message was quickly rebutted by a statement from Windsor Palace that claimed the announcement was premature, and this shift in the Duke and Duchess’ lives was still in early development.
Later, however, Windsor Palace released a more optimistic statement, thanking the Queen and the family for their support during the transition. Additionally, the Queen released a personal statement regarding the partial resignation, in which she voiced her support of the couple. In an unusual display of public affection, Queen Elizabeth refers to Prince Harry as “my grandson” and also praises Meghan for quickly becoming a member of her family.
It is not difficult to understand why Harry and Meghan would seek a retreat from the royal family. Before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were even married in 2018, Meghan began to draw criticism and comparison because the media constantly portrayed her as an anti-Kate Middleton. The Duchess of Cambridge, who married Prince William in 2011, is celebrated as being beautiful and demure, and a loyal member of the Queen’s family. Meghan, however, a biracial American and former actress, has often been attacked by the media for her unconventional decisions while a British duchess. Meghan’s actions, such as wearing French designers or guest editing Vogue, are not wrong or offensive to the Queen or to Great Britain but are merely a more liberal approach to an esteemed position in the royal family.
With the decision to remove themselves as members of the royal family, the Duke and Duchess will be stripped of their royal titles as His and Her Royal Highnesses. It is a small price to pay, however, for the freedom they will attain with their partial resignation. Harry and Meghan will be able to work for their own money, something they could not do while serving as senior members of the royal family. Their desire to work for their own keep is admirable but also not surprising considering Meghan’s history as an actress and blogger.
The couple has also announced they will split their time between North America and the United Kingdom, another choice they could not make previously. The Duke and Duchess’ son, Archie, will be raised on both continents, a triumph for his American-born mother. While in the United Kingdom, Harry and Meghan will continue to reside in their home, Frogmore Cottage, but they will be returning money to taxpayers who supported its recent renovation.
Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back from the royal family may be the biggest controversy since Harry’s mother Diana, former Princess of Wales, lost her title after divorcing Prince Charles. Harry and Meghan, however, are willingly removing their titles. It certainly seems like a continuation of history with a thoroughly modern twist. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are not brashly vacating their positions in the Queen’s circle. In fact, they are choosing to continue to respect her while living on their own terms. The decision is certainly unprecedented but is just the right kind of trailblazing decision for a pair of well-educated and respectable young royals. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are writing their own 21st century fairytale, and the world should take note.