100 days on from Megxit, have Harry and Meghan got what they wanted?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·7-min read
Britain's Prince Harry (L), Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive to attend the Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House in London on March 5, 2020. - The Endeavour Fund helps servicemen and women have the opportunity to rediscover their self-belief and fighting spirit through physical challenges. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Meghan and Harry left their senior royal roles in March 2020. (Getty Images)

At the end of March, 100 days ago, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle formally ended their time as senior royals.

The couple had carried out hundreds of engagements and a handful of royal tours abroad, but decided they wanted to pursue their own path, seeking financial freedom and the ability to live in North America for some of the time.

They remain members of the Royal Family of course, keeping their titles of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and choosing to stop using their HRH stylings.

In a world in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, much of what they hoped and planned to do has been put on hold.

So what did they want, and what have they got in 100 days? And how does the Royal Family look without them?

Harry and Meghan

Greater privacy

In a statement on their website when they stood back, they said the move to be private individuals will remove “the supposed ‘public interest’ justification for media intrusion into their lives”.

The couple moved to Los Angeles, the duchess’s hometown, in late March, which is known to be a city where it is hard to escape paparazzi.

They have found themselves the subject of intrusive photos, with drones flying over their home and photographers walking along a path which looked into their garden.

But the lockdown may have helped them, as they have to carry out much of their work from home, and can choose limited places to go to. For example, they released images through the Homeboy Industries charity after volunteering there.

The duchess’s ongoing court battle with the Mail On Sunday and the MailOnline does mean they continue to attract press, and they are having to reveal some information they perhaps would not want to.

Royal brand

The couple had hoped to use Sussex Royal as their brand when they left their senior royal roles, but they had to agree not to use the word royal in any jurisdiction.

Harry and Meghan had built up a huge following on their Instagram account, but they might have to start again when they launch Archewell, their new non-profit.

The name Archewell comes from the Greek word Arche, which means source of action. It’s also the inspiration for their son Archie’s name.

The couple did not get to use the brand they want, and due to the pandemic, are having to bide their time on launching their new non-profit too.

But with their loyal following, they are likely to pick up plenty of support when they launch.

Read more: Why are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepping back as senior royals?

Financial independence

The couple’s main reason for stepping back was to achieve financial independence, and not rely on the public purse for their income.

As senior royals, about 5% of their annual income was from the Sovereign Grant – the money paid by the taxpayer to the Royal Family to fund their duties, their travel and other expenses.

The rest of their money came from the Prince of Wales, Harry’s father, who funded them through the Duchy of Cornwall.

A hundred days on, Harry and Meghan have signed up as speakers with an agency in New York, who have the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama on their books.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex(L), is watched by Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex(R) as  she delivers a speech at the Youth Employment Services Hub in Tembisa township, Johannesburg, on October 2, 2019. - Meghan Markle is suing Britain's Mail On Sunday newspaper over the publication of a private letter, her husband Prince Harry has said, warning they had been forced to take action against "relentless propaganda". (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP) (Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan are signed up as speakers with a New York agency. (Getty Images)

They appear though to have mostly been working with their charities – patronages set up while they were royals – and so while they don’t represent the Queen on those, it also doesn’t give them any income.

Security is costing the couple £7,000 a day, according to reports last month, as they inherited a firm which was being used at the home they’re living in in California.

They have said they are meeting this privately, but it’s not known exactly how.

Harry and Meghan won’t be the only people whose plans for financial independence are on hold because of coronavirus.

Location, location, location

The couple intended to split their time between North America and the UK, keeping their home in Windsor at Frogmore Cottage.

They were living in Canada, on Vancouver Island, but moved to LA just before the border between the US and Canada was closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The move was met with some criticism, because Canada is part of the Commonwealth, and so basing themselves there reflected the commitment they had made to the organisation.

They can’t move freely between the two nations at the moment because of the coronavirus restrictions, but are paying a rental plus monthly fee on their home in Windsor so that they can keep it as their home and also pay off some of the renovation costs.

It means we could still see the couple and their son back in Britain when travel restrictions ease.

The residence of Prince Harry and and his wife Meghan is seen in Deep Cove Neighborhood  from a boat on the Saanich Inlet, North Saanich, British Columbia on January 21, 2020. - The new neighbors have been spotted out hiking and down at the farmers' market, but residents of North Saanich say they will ensure privacy for Harry and Meghan at their Canadian island hideaway. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, along with their baby son Archie, are living at the scenic, wooded property of Mille Fleurs on Vancouver Island after exiting from their royal roles. (Photo by Mark GOODNOW / AFP) (Photo by MARK GOODNOW/AFP via Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan were living in Canada before they moved to the duchess's hometown. (Getty Images)

Representing the Queen

When Harry and Meghan first announced their plan, they said they hoped there would be a way for them to continue to represent the Queen, while also being financially independent.

They were told that would not be possible, but they were allowed to continue with many of the patronages they were given when they were senior royals.

Nothing they do now is on behalf of the Queen or the Royal Family.

While that is in contrast to what they said they wanted, it could be helpful that they have a new found freedom and they have been more outspoken that might be expected from working royals.

Both of them have spoken about racial injustice and racism in society, and have even appeared to criticise the Commonwealth and its history in a way they may not have felt able to if they were representing the Queen directly.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 10: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018 in London, England. The 100th birthday of the RAF, which was founded on on 1 April 1918, was marked with a centenary parade with the presentation of a new Queen's Colour and flypast of 100 aircraft over Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
The couple don't carry out engagements on behalf of the Queen anymore. (Getty Images)

A new approach to the press

The couple said in January that they no longer wanted to work through the royal rota, the name given to a group of newspapers and broadcasters through which the Royal Family has engagements covered and shares news.

Since they stepped back, Harry and Meghan took the decision to cut off several of the papers who are on the rota, including the Daily Mail, and The Daily Mirror.

They wrote to the editors of four tabloid papers, to tell them they would no longer work with them, accusing them of basing stories on lies and writing for clickbait.

It’s not something they would have been able to do if they were still senior royals.

It hasn’t stopped those papers writing stories about them, but it has allowed the couple to deal directly with other media outlets.

The Royal Family

New roles for royals

There are some Royal Family members who have been more visible since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped back, but no new names have been added to the working royals list.

It’s long been said that Prince Charles has wanted to ‘slim down’ the monarchy, and he may have got his wish in ways he had not foreseen when his second son said he wanted to step back as a senior royal.

The Countess of Wessex and her husband, Prince Edward, were already working royals, but they have moved more to the forefront of royal duties, with Sophie being seen in public frequently during the pandemic.

As the youngest of Charles’s generation of royals, Edward and Sophie were well placed to carry out engagements during coronavirus because they did not need to shield.

And as a confident and engaging public speaker, with a track record on speaking out against sexism and gender based violence, Sophie could find herself filling the role Meghan may have wished to take.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Sophie the Countess of Wessex (centre) during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
Family members like Sophie Wessex have been more visible since Harry and Meghan stepped back. (Getty Images)

The importance of family

The Queen made clear in her statement when she reached an agreement with Harry and Meghan that they would remain “a valued part of my family”.

She showed that would be the case when she invited the couple and their son Archie to spend some of their summer with her in Balmoral.

They accepted, and it is thought were planning to return to the UK for other events, like the Trooping the Colour, throughout the last few months.

However, it’s coronavirus that has put an end to that.

When the Queen celebrated her 94th birthday, she got a video call from Harry, Meghan and Archie in LA.

Whatever happens, the trio will still be members of the Queen’s family.

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