UK’s Prince Harry and wife Meghan to step back from senior royal roles


LONDON (Reuters) – Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, said on Wednesday that he and his wife Meghan planned to step back from their roles as senior members of Britain’s royal family and spend more time in North America.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, leave Canada House in London, Britain January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Harry, sixth in line to the British throne, and Meghan, an American former actress, said they hoped to become financially independent and set up a charity, while continuing some royal duties.

“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 in a statement on Instagram.

Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying discussions with Harry and Meghan over their future role were at an early stage.

“We understand their desire to take a different approach but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” the palace said. “Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage.”

The couple married in May 2018 in a lavish ceremony in Windsor Castle, west of London, and last year Meghan gave birth to their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, who did not receive a royal title.

Splitting time between Britain and North America “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”, Harry and Meghan said.

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, have struggled to deal with the intense attention from parts of the British and international media, and the couple recently took a six-week break from their official duties.

In 2016, before they were married, Harry issued a statement criticising the media for intruding into Meghan’s private life, saying the press had subjected her to “a wave of abuse and harassment”.

Last October, Meghan started legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over the publication of a private letter.

Harry described the treatment of his wife as “bullying”, likening it to that his mother Princess Diana suffered before her death in a Paris car accident in 1997 when her limousine crashed as it sped away from chasing paparazzi.

Critical articles have picked out their use of private jets while promoting environmental causes, and the 2.4 million pound ($3 million) taxpayer-funded renovation of their new home.

Harry also admitted in October to disagreements with his brother, Prince William, who is second in line to the throne.

“We are certainly on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him as I know he will always be there for me,” Harry said at the time. “As brothers you have good days, you have bad days.”

Harry and William received more than 5 million pounds from their father, Prince Charles, last year.

It was not immediately clear how Harry and Meghan would achieve financial independence, although last year it was reported that Harry would be executive producer of a documentary on mental health with Oprah Winfrey, for Apple’s video streaming service.

Additional reporting by Michael Holden and Stephen Addison; editing by Mike Collett-White

Source : Reuters