Megxit: 10 things to know about Harry and Meghan's step back from the royal family
From who'll pay for their security to the signs that a split was in the air
We may only be nine days into the year, but already the biggest celebrity "divorce" of 2020 appears to be upon us. In a landmark move, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex announced yesterday that they would be stepping back as senior members of the British Royal Family, instead choosing to "carve out a progressive new role within this institution".
Following the news, newspapers, magazines, websites and social media have been alight with speculation about the future of the Sussexes. Below, we round up 10 things known about the revelation to save you reading 2,477 Twitter posts.
1. They've got a new website
Mere hours afters the duke and duchess announced their intention to step back from royal duties, their new website went live: sussexroyal.com. The site outlines their intention to support the community, the monarchy and the Commonwealth with their work going forward, and answers questions about how their future will be funded.
2. They're pushing back against the tabloids
As part of their new website, the Sussexes revealed their new media policy, in a bid to "share information more freely with members of the public". As they will no longer take part in the "Royal Rota", their work will no longer be covered by a dedicated group of print and broadcast reporters given special access to royal engagements. The media outlets with access to the Royal Rota are: The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Times and The Sun.
Instead, the couple will "invite specialist media to specific events to give greater access to their cause-driven activities, as well as work with grassroots media organisations and young, emerging journalists. The pair will also continue to use their active social media channels to promote their causes in a digital-first fashion.
"The current structure makes it challenging for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to personally share moments in their lives directly with members of the public (via social media for example), without first going through the filter of the Royal Rota," their website states.
In their media mission statement, the Sussexes addressed coverage of their work and lives so far, revealing their disappointment at incorrect and false articles. "Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by Royal Correspondents are, also, often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions," Sussexroyal.com details.
3. They will no longer be taking cash from the Sovereign Grant
In a section entitled Funding on their new website, the Sussexes address their intention to become "financially independent" from the Royal family, which receives money from the Sovereign Grant.
The taxpayer-funded grant, allotted to the Royal family by the UK government, is designed to cover the work of the Royal family, and can be used to maintain royal residences and workplaces, and pay staff. In turn, Queen Elizabeth II hands over the revenue of the Crown Estate, a portfolio of property and land, to the government.
"They value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing," the website states, adding that the Sussexes will continue to support charitable initiatives. "Their Royal Highnesses feel this new approach will enable them to continue to carry out their duties for Her Majesty The Queen, while having the future financial autonomy to work externally."
According to the Sussexes, their allotment from the Sovereign Grant covers just 5 per cent of their costs, which they are now expected to absorb through their own money. The remaining 95 per cent of costs, their website reveals, have been covered by income allocated by Prince Charles, which is generated through his royal estate, the Duchy of Cornwall. They did not confirm if they will continue to take income from Prince Charles.
4. They will, however, keep their UK home
Windsor's Frogmore Cottage, which the Sussexes moved into last year from Kensington Palace's Nottingham Cottage, is owned by the Queen. However, the couple stated they will continue to use the property, with the permission of the monarch, as their official residence "so that their family will always have a place to call home in the UK".
The couple also addressed criticism of Frogmore Cottage's recent renovation, estimated to have cost £2.4 million (Dh11.5m), revealing that they privately funded fixtures, furnishings and fittings. The rest of the refurbishment was funded by the Sovereign Grant, "reflecting the monarchy’s responsibility to maintain the upkeep of buildings with historical significance".
5. They will pay for travel, but not security
Expanding on their funding arrangements, the Sussexes confirmed that travel taken during their private time has always been, and will continue to be, paid for privately.
"Wherever possible and unless advised otherwise on security grounds, their logistical arrangements are undertaken via commercial air carriers, local trains and fuel-efficient vehicles, be it for official or personal travel," their website states.
However, their security guards, supplied by London's Metropolitan Police, will continue to be taxpayer-funded as required by the Home Office, since the duke and duchess "are classified as internationally protected people". Any overseas visits they make at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also continue to be paid for out of the Sovereign Grant, as is the case for all members of the Royal family.
6. It looks like they will retain their titles
While no statement has yet directly addressed if Meghan will remain HRH Duchess of Sussex, their social media statement, announcing their step back from duties, was signed Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
7. Their announcement reportedly blind-sided the Royal Family
According to multiple media reports, Queen Elizabeth II was not consulted about the Sussexes' official statement before it was released. Neither were heirs Prince Charles and Prince William, with sources telling the BBC the family was "hurt".
The official Buckingham Palace statement, swiftly issued after the Sussexes' Instagram announcement, was decidedly terse and worded to suggest no concrete decision had yet been made.
"Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage," the release detailed. "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work though."
8. They'll split their time between the UK and North America
American-born Meghan and British Prince Harry will raise their son, Archie, between the UK and North America, their statement revealed.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages," the couple said.
Whether the family will make a base in the US or Canada has not been confirmed; while Meghan was born and raised in California, she spent several years living in Toronto while filming TV show Suits. The couple have also just returned from a six-week jaunt to Canada.
"This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter," the Sussexes added.
9. The signs have been there for a while
While the Royal family may not have had forewarning that Prince Harry and Meghan intended to "resign", their have been signals in recent weeks that suggested a change was to come.
The Sussexes spent Christmas in Canada, instead of at Sandringham with the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family, and Princes William and Harry's separation of the charitable Royal Foundation last year signalled to many that a wider splintering could take place.
Additionally, Queen Elizabeth II did not include a photograph of Meghan and Harry during her Christmas address last month. During her festive message, images of Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince Philip, her father King George VI, and the Cambridges were instead in full view. A photograph of the Sussexes, however, had been included during the Queen's 2018 address.
10. There are more announcements to come
While the Sussexes' initial statement has sent ripples across the world, it will likely not be their last for a while. As part of their social media post, the couple revealed they will launch a new charitable entity, following their split from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's foundation last year.
"We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, and all relevant parties," they said.
The couple are expected to also retain their current patronages, which are listed on their website. Their new charity will be something "different", Sussexroyal.com states, adding that the pair have previously supported well-being, women's empowerment, gender equality and the environment.
Updated: January 9, 2020 03:46 PM