Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 January 2020

Prince Harry and Meghan's ‘financial independence’ claim questioned

Former Buckingham Palace press officer said intense media scrutiny was likely behind their decision to distance themselves from royal duties

After the surprise announcement that they would be stepping back from British Royal Family duties, questions were raised about how Prince Harry and his wife Meghan would achieve their goal of becoming “financially independent”.

In statement issued on Wednesday, the couple said they would split their time between the UK and US, but would continue to “fully support” the Queen.

The news appeared to have come as a shock to Buckingham Palace, with no other member of the royal family - including the Queen and Harry's brother Prince William - being notified about the decision.

The family were understood to be hurt by the news, which experts say breaks Royal Family protocol.

Attack on the tabloids

Many saw the main reason for the couple’s withdrawal being the amount of media scrutiny they and their son Archie had received in recent months.

Last October, Prince Harry and Meghan spoke candidly about the overwhelming media attention on them. The Prince revealed that friends tried to warn Meghan not to marry him to avoid the intense media scrutiny.

Former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter suggested that the couple's decision on Wednesday showed Prince Harry's "heart ruling his head".

Mr Arbiter said the media frenzy, especially since Archie was born last year, was likely the reason for their decision to distance themselves.

The royal couple released a media rule book on Wednesday on their new website, which seemed to take a shot at the tabloid press.

Among its new aims were to "provide access to credible media outlets focused on objective new reporting to cover key moments and events,” no doubt referring to some of the tabloid media reports about them, some of which commented on Meghan's family background.

Making their own money

Although some have lauded the couple's decision to break away from the Royal Family and financially support themselves, others have questions about how the pair will become “financially independent”.

Commenting on this, Mr Arbiter told the BBC: "I mean, Harry is not a poor man, but to settle yourself in two different continents, to raise a family, to continue to do your work - how's the work going to be funded?

"How is their security going to be funded?

"Because they're still going to have to have security - who's going to have to pay for this? Where's the security coming from? Is the Metropolitan Police going to be providing it and if so whether there's going to be any contribution in covering the security cost?"

Another controversy lies in the couple’s home in Windsor, Frogmore Cottage, which they want to continue to live in when they are in Britain. £2.4 million from the public purse is being spent renovating the building, but their entitlement to those funds has been challenged now the couple have retreated from royal duties.

Future plans

Although Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday night that discussions about The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s future plans were in “an early stage”, some newspapers joked about what their next venture was likely to be.

The Washington Post published a piece entitled “Dear Lifetime and Hallmark: Here are 15 plot ideas for your next Prince Harry-Meghan movies”, featuring film titles like “Coming Back to America” and “A Prince Among men”.

ABC’s Karey Burke quipped that the broadcaster has an office waiting for Prince Harry & Meghan if they want to go into television production.

Others believe Meghan might go back into her old profession, acting.

When she started dating Prince Harry in June 2016, she was playing Rachel Zane in the popular television series Suits.

Royal biographer Penny Junor said: "Perhaps she'd have to be careful about what roles she'd do because she is [still] a member of the royal family.”

Updated: January 9, 2020 11:53 AM

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