Couple drop HRH titles, will REPAY £2.4m spent on Frogmore Cottage and won’t receive any more taxpayers’ cash as Queen says they remain ‘much loved family members’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are to completely give up Royal life after a Megxit deal was sealed, Buckingham Palace announced tonight.
The couple will no longer use their HRH titles and will repay £2.4million of taxpayers’ money spent on renovating their Frogmore Cottage home.
The couple, who will be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will stop carrying out royal duties from the spring.
The announcement tonight marks the conclusion of talks about their future after days of wrangling with senior members of the family and royal aides to thrash out a deal.
It effectively means Harry and Meghan have got their wish to pursue an independent life in North America where they can set their own agenda and make money how they choose. However, they have pledged to ‘uphold the Queen’s values’.
Her Royal Highness, who took control of the crisis that threatened to permanently damage the monarchy, praised Meghan for swiftly becoming a part of the family and thanked the couple for the work they had done, saying she was pleased they had found a constructive way to move forward.
In her statement, the Queen said: ‘Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.
‘I recognise 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.
‘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.
‘It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.’
A statement from Buckingham Palace read: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.
‘As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments.
‘They will no longer receive public funds for royal duties. With the Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations.
‘While they can no longer formally represent the Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.
‘The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.
‘Buckingham Palace does not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly funded security. This new model will take effect in the Spring of 2020.’
The Duke and Duchess’ new website sussexroyal.com has been updated following the Queen’s statement, saying: ‘In line with the statement by Her Majesty The Queen, information on the roles and work of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be updated on this website in due course.’
Their new titles mirror the styling given to Harry’s mother Diana after her divorce when she was no longer allowed to use HRH. She was know as Diana, Princess of Wales.
The change means Harry, who served a decade in the British Army, will give up his military patronages and his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
Despite the official statements saying they would no longer be funded by the taxpayer, it is understood Harry will still be reliant on the Bank of Dad – with Prince Charles bankrolling him from the Duchy of Cornwall.
He currently receives around £2.3million a year. Other key questions remain.
Harry and Meghan’s security needs will still have to be met – in the announcements they refused to divulge who would pay to keep them safe or how much it would cost.
But estimates have ranged between £1million to £7million. Canada is likely to have to pick up a sizeable chunk of the bill.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office declined to comment on Saturday’s news.
The official statements do leave several key questions unanswered over Harry and Meghan’s future.
The future of the couple’s new website venture is unclear. It is not known whether they will hang on to the ‘Sussex Royal’ name if they are no longer officially part of royal life.
They were quick to update the website tonight, but it still described them as ‘Their Royal Highnesses’.
Prince Harry had been forced to delay flying back to Canada to be reunited with Meghan and baby Archie while the negotiations continued.
He has not seen them in almost a fortnight.
The Queen was seen with a steely expression behind the wheel of her Land Rover at Sandringham on Saturday afternoon, as the final touches were put on the Megxit deal.
She had ordered courtiers to hammer out a plan ‘in days, not weeks’ for a stripped-back Royal role for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan and Harry have already begun a transition phase of living in Canada and the UK. The duchess is in the Commonwealth country with son Archie where the Sussexes spent six weeks over the festive period.
The move was agreed by the Queen, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge following the Sussexes unprecedented statement released earlier this month saying they wanted to step back as senior royals and become financially independent.
Alistair Bruce, a commentator on the royals, told Sky News: ‘I think the queen has dealt with this crisis because she has absolutely drawn the line: you can be private people, but you cannot be royal at the same time.
‘There’s no halfway house.’
Royal expert Penny Junor said the new arrangement was ‘the best possible outcome and an outcome which will actually avoid catastrophe’.
She said: ‘I think it is the best possible outcome, and an outcome which will actually avoid catastrophe.
‘The country was so divided about this and so angry and so upset, so I think it was all a big mess and it was getting nastier by the day.’
The announcement from the palace on Saturday confirmed that the duke and duchess will continue their private patronages and associations with the Queen’s blessing.
Ms Junor added that it would have been ‘tragic’ if the pair had to give up their patronages, particularly if Harry was made to leave the Invictus Games after founding it.
‘They’re hanging onto their patronages which I think is absolutely terrific because they both care passionately about making the world a better place,’ she said.
She went on to praise the agreement that Harry and Meghan will be stepping back from royal duties and will not receive public funds as a clean break for the pair.
‘There are no blurred lines. They are starting afresh and they are going with the Queen’s blessing, I think it is the best of all worlds,’ the royal commentator added.
Ms Junor went on to say that the choice to retain, but not use, the HRH title was significant. ‘There is greater prestige to the HRH, it is the title of a working member of the royal family,’ she said.
‘I think holding onto it is very very good because it means that if something was to happen in the future, and who knows what might happen in the future, circumstances might change and they might want to come back.
‘They might want to do royal work again, they might be needed. I think not to burn bridges is a good thing. It does mean that they won’t be able to cash in, one would hope, on their royal status.’
However, the royal expert added it was ‘currently ambiguous’ whether the pair would be able to use the term Sussex Royal, including on their official website Sussexroyal.com.
Although she praised the agreement as positive for both the couple and the royal family, Ms Junor said: ‘The British public have lost out because these are two fantastic people who sprinkle fairy dust wherever they go and we are going to miss that, but clearly it was not making them happy.’
A source said the royal family and the Sussexes ‘were pleased’ to have reached a ‘successful conclusion’ to the talks.
The source said: ‘There has been an acceptance and understanding of what it is the Sussexes want to achieve and a genuine desire to come up with a new way of working to support their wish for a more independent life.
‘The issues involved are complicated, that said the announcement meets Her Majesty and the family’s wish for a speedy resolution, the nature of the issue has necessitated a number of detailed conversations between officials and members of the family.
‘They were all extremely friendly and constructive because the common goal was clear, as was the desire to reach a successful conclusion – everyone was pleased to have got here today.’
Royal accounts published last summer revealed £2.4million of tax-payers’ money was spent on Meghan and Harry’s grade-II listed Frogmore Cottage home near Windsor Castle.
It turned five properties back into a single residence for the couple and their baby son Archie.
The amount spent was heavily criticised at the time by the organisation Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state.
But all fixtures and fittings for the home close to Windsor Castle were paid for privately by the Duke and Duchess.
In a move that reveals the couple may have been trying to avoid a public backlash over the funds spent on the home, they have said they want to repay the amount.
The Queen has said Frogmore will remain their home, and when the couple are in the UK they are likely to stay at the property and will pay a commercial rent on it.
The couple’s statement said they ‘will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties’, one of the requests of the Sussexes who said on their new website they wanted to step away from public money so they could be financially independent.
The Prince had been spotted last night in the capital after spending the evening dining with friends at Brook House Pub in Fulham, west London.
Following a crunch summit between Princes Charles, William and Harry last Monday, the Queen agreed to let the Sussexes step back from official duties and tasked Palace aides with drawing up a blueprint for the couple’s future in double-time.
Harry had been expected to fly back across the Atlantic this weekend after hosting the Rugby League World Cup draw at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
The last time he saw his son was at the $14million Vancouver Island mansion where he and Meghan spent Christmas – and Archie stayed when they returned to the UK say they planned to quit as senior Royals.
As well as splits between the Palace and Sussex households, friends claim that Harry and Meghan are themselves divided over where in Canada to settle down.
The Duke is believed to be happy to continue living on the west coast near Vancouver, while his ex-actress wife is understood to favour Toronto, where she lived during her time filming Suits.
‘Meghan has a lot of connections here. She finds it comfortable and believes it is somewhere they can develop new roles and pursue her interests,’ a source told the Times.
Prince Andrew was also spotted at Sandringham on Saturday, where he was understood do have had lunch with the Queen and Prince Philip.
It emerged today that Meghan’s team pre-approved text and pictures sent out after her carefully-choreographed charity visit in Vancouver earlier this week.
The Duchess of Sussex visited feminist climate change group Justice For Girls in Vancouver on Tuesday in one of the first times she has been seen since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were quitting as senior royals.
Her visit was publicised on the group’s Twitter account but only after Meghan’s team apparently gave the go-ahead, The Daily Telegraph reports.
On Friday, Meghan took full advantage of her newfound independence from the Crown as she drove herself to a Canadian airport to pick up a pilates expert pal who jetted in from the US for the weekend.
The Duchess of Sussex was spotted in photos obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com parked outside Victoria International Airport in a Land Rover Discovery on Thursday afternoon.
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