The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they are stepping back as senior members of the royal family.
But the shock move raises many questions about their future, not least of all whether Harry and Meghan’s attempt to redefine their royal lives is sustainable.
– What did Harry and Meghan’s statement say?
The couple said in a “personal message” they intend to step back as senior members of the royal family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to support the Queen.
– Where will they live?
They said they now plan to balance their time between the UK and North America.
– What about their home Frogmore Cottage in Windsor?
They will continue to base themselves at Frogmore Cottage when in the UK.
Taxpayers paid £2.4 million to renovate Harry and Meghan’s official residence, which the couple moved into just nine months ago.
– Where will they live in North America and will they buy a home there?
This is not yet known. The couple have just spent six weeks in Canada so are expected to base themselves there for part of the year.
– How will they become financially independent?
Their new official website Sussexroyal.com said the couple will no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant from the taxpayer for their official office expenses – which it said accounted for 5% of their office costs.
The Prince of Wales currently pays for the remaining cost of their public duties and some of their private costs from his Duchy of Cornwall income.
But it is not clear cut. The Sovereign Grant is also used to pay for Harry and Meghan’s official royal travel, and their website said they “proudly” carry out official overseas visits in support of the Queen, suggesting they will still continue to do so.
– Will they be getting paid jobs?
It looks like it in some form. Sussexroyal.com said the couple “value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing.
“For this reason they have made the choice to become members of the Royal Family with financial independence.”
Harry is a former soldier and Meghan is a former actress but the pair are about to launch their new SussexRoyal foundation.
– Will the British taxpayers still pay for their security?
They seem to think so. Sussexroyal.com, referring to armed security by the Metropolitan Police mandated by the Home Office, said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are classified as internationally protected people which mandates this level of security.”
– But they are no longer senior royals?
Yes this creates a problem. Non-senior royals generally don’t have full-time royal protection officers.
Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie previously faced criticism over the use of taxpayers’ funding for police protection, but the Duke of York now pays for their security himself.
The undisclosed cost of guarding the royal family as a whole is estimated to be more than £100 million a year.
– What about the cost to the Canadians?
If Harry and Meghan base themselves in Canada – a realm of which the Queen is monarch, it raises the question of whether the Canadians will have to contribute to their security costs as well, or even pay for an official residence.
– Will they lose their HRH titles?
Their statement makes no mention of them losing their HRH titles nor of Harry being removed from the line of succession.
The duke and duchess said they have chosen to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution”.
– Does combining private work with royal duties work?
Having a dual role has proved controversial in the past.
In 2002, the Earl and Countess of Wessex stepped down from their businesses to become full time royals after they were accused of cashing in on their royal status.
Harry’s cousin Zara Tindall earns her own income, but does not carry out royal duties nor live in an official residence.
– What about the Queen and the Prince of Wales?
It is understood that the Queen and the Prince of Wales were not aware of the content of Harry and Meghan’s personal statement before it was issued.
The announcement was made just seven weeks after the Queen’s second son Andrew stepped back from royal duties after his disastrous Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Buckingham Palace has warned that Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back will be “complicated” and talks are still at an early stage.
– Why did Harry and Meghan take the decision?
The couple spoke of their struggles dealing with royal life and the intense tabloid interest in a television documentary about their Africa tour.
Meghan said: “It’s not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life. You have got to thrive.”
What do you think about Harry and Meghan’s announcement that they intend to step back as senior royals? Are they making the right decision? Share your views at Speakers Corner