Behind the scenes

Megxit anniversary: how Prince Harry and Meghan Markles’ departure hit the Royal Family

Insiders say couple ‘love’ their new life in US - but relations with monarchy remain frosty

Exactly a year ago today, the Royal Family was rocked by an announcement that made headlines worldwide and triggered a series of crisis meetings at the Palace.

The decision by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to step down from official royal duties marked the beginning of a turbulent transition that has taken place against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And as with 2020 in general, “it’s fair to say that ‘Megxit’ hasn’t quite worked out how either side might have expected”, writes The Telegraph’s associate editor Camilla Tominey.

Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams agrees, telling the Daily Express that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “precipitated a crisis” that kicked off just weeks after Prince Andrew announced that he would be temporarily stepping back from public duties.

But while Buckingham Palace has faced major headaches, a “source close to the couple” has told People magazine that the Sussexes have flourished since quitting the so-called Firm.

“Despite everything that has been going on this year, they don’t regret their move to the US,” the insider said. “They love that they are able to focus on projects and causes that are important to them.” 

Hopes of improving the “still-frosty Royal relations” have been “kiboshed” by Covid, however, with restrictions on travel likely to leave Harry unable to attend transition talks with his family due to take place in March, says The Telegraph’s Tominey.

“It’s slowly thawing between William and Harry,” royal author Phil Dampier told Tominey, “but I don’t think things will ever be the same. I’m sure the brothers will put on a united front for the statue unveiling, but behind the scenes things are still extremely fraught.”

Dampier believes the Sussexes would be well advised to extend an olive branch by volunteering to relinquish their titles.

“It’s obvious Harry and Meghan are not coming back, and have very much made their life in America, so the best thing for all is for a line to be drawn,” he argues.

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