By now, you’ve seen the countless stories swirling around the internet about Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to step down from being senior members of the British royal family. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and we’ll probably never know the full truth.
Four things are for certain, though. First, it’s really none of our business because we don’t even know half of the details. Second, a 35-year-old man should be able to move out and provide for himself (and, no, the Queen probably wasn’t blindsided). Third, Meghan Markle hasn’t been treated fairly (just look at this comparison of the headlines written about her and those about highlighting her sister-in-law, Kate). Finally, this has been a long time coming. Let’s go over a very simplified version of the timeline of events …
A Royal Wedding
When Lady Diana Spencer walked down the aisle to marry Prince Charles on July 29, 1981, she was a fresh-faced 20-year-old. He was 32. In the years leading up to their wedding day, Charles had a love affair Camilla Shand who, for reasons unknown (some believe royal pressure played a significant role), married Andrew Parker Bowles instead.
As Diana recited her vows and became the Princess of Wales, her husband’s ex-girlfriend, future mistress, and eventual second wife was in attendance. Can you imagine how foolish and embarrassed she must have felt years later when the truth about their relationship came to light? There’s no way most women would want their spouse’s ex hanging around at their wedding!
Diana stumbled on a gift Prince Charles bought for Camilla, which was how she found out they were having an affair. After that, many sordid details came to light and Diana engaged in indiscretions of her own. By 1992, it was clear that this marriage wasn’t going to survive.
Diana’s Rocky Departure
Before the separation, Diana later revealed that she tried to talk to Queen Elizabeth and received no support. She also shared the cruelty she felt she experienced as a member of the royal family. As a result, she struggled with insecurity and even battled bulimia.
When the divorce was finalized, Diana was given a settlement and allowed to keep her home at Kensington Palace, as long as she gave up her title “Her Royal Highness.” This, of course, was in spite of the fact that she was the mother of Prince William, the future king of England, and Prince Harry.
Diana’s Death & The Aftermath
The world seemed to stand still when Diana, along with her boyfriend, Dodi al-Fayed, were killed in a car crash on August 31, 1997. Just 10 months earlier, her trusted butler, Paul Burrell, claims she gave him a note stating that someone was “planning ‘an accident’ in [her] car, brake failure, and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry.”
As people across the globe mourned, it took the Queen five days to publicly comment on Diana’s death. It was a time of confusion and accusations, but the royals stuck to protocol. Hours after learning they’d lost their mother, William and Harry were expected to attend church where there was no mention of the tragedy.
Then, despite being just 12 and 15 years old, Harry and William were forced to walk behind their mother’s casket as the world watched. For several hours, they had to sit quietly and emotionless during the televised funeral. It’s something that Harry, and Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, have said was cruel and unnecessary.
“My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” Harry shared during a 2017 interview with Newsweek. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”
Over the years, many secrets about Princess Diana has been revealed. At the same time, al Fayed’s father, Mohamed al-Fayed, has maintained that the crash was premeditated and intentional. In fact, there are many conspiracy theories about that devastating moment in history.
Harry’s Military Service and Emotional Trauma
Many may not realize that Prince Harry spent 10 years in the armed forces. In fact, he’s the first royal in more than 25 years to serve in a war zone. He spent time in Afghanistan, served as an Apache commander, and shot at Taliban insurgents. He left the Army in 2015, but said that being in the military would “stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Since then, he’s been very committed to charity work aimed at supporting mental health among veterans. He also founded the Invictus Games in 2014. The international multi-sport event is adaptive and allows wounded veterans to compete and participate in something positive.
During an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Harry opened up about how he’d shut down his emotions for almost two decades to avoid thinking about his mother. This had “quite serious effect” on his life, leaving him close to a breakdown “on numerous occasions.”
Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate worked together to form the Heads Together campaign in an effort to raise awareness and shed the stigmas associated with mental illness.
Relationship With Meghan Markle and Racism
When Harry and Meghan (former star of the series, Suits) started dating, he was forced to address the rampant racism she was facing online. In a 2016 statement, he outlined the harassment and described “nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers.”
Unfortunately, this was in addition to some of the racially-insensitive things they faced from their own family (remember when Princess Michael of Kent wore that brooch to Christmas?). The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, has also been accused of intolerance, but he’s also said a number of questionable things over the years.
Of course, there’s also been family drama on her side with her half-sister and father making things exceptionally hard for them. Recently, a tearful Meghan explained that withstanding the attacks from them along with the media was particularly challenging while she was vulnerable and pregnant.
Public Resentment Towards Royals
It’s surprising that people have reacted with such shock and sadness when there’s been resentment towards the royals for decades. Not weeks, not months, not even years, but actual decades. Just watch The Crown to get an idea of how taxpayers complained about covering the royal expenses during the earliest days of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
Those complaints continue to this day. In fact, when the Queen’s granddaughter, Princess Eugenie, was married in 2018, there was plenty of griping about the costs. You’d think people would be more receptive and supportive of Harry and Meghan wanting to become financially independent.
Of course, we can’t leave Prince Andrew out of this discussion, either. Prince Charles’ brother has been accused of participating in Jeffrey Epstein’s horrendous global sex ring. The prince gave a disastrous interview to address the accusations of Virginia Giuffre, a woman who claims he had sex with her while she was underage. Who wouldn’t want to distance themselves from that?
The Future for Harry and Meghan
Things continue to evolve and new headlines crop up all day every day. Much of it is speculation, but after a family meeting on Monday, the Queen released the following official statement:
“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.
Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK. These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”
That’s as good as you can expect at a time like this. It was nice of The Queen to say that she would have “preferred” they remain full-time royals, though. She does reiterate that Harry and Meghan no longer want to rely on public funds, so where will their money will come from?
They’re a brand. They are two competent adults who have a lot to offer the world. They’ve both been heavily involved in charitable work for years before they even met. Together, they could be an absolute powerhouse. They also might carve out a new way for royals to exist among us, without being a drain on the system.
A final word — there’s been some chatter about Prince Harry speaking to Disney CEO, Bob Igor, about Meghan doing voiceover work. If your spouse could put in a good word for you somewhere, wouldn’t you take advantage of that? I would.