Meghan ‘may never return to UK’ in official role after royal separation deal

Prince Harry and Meghan will continue to live in Frogmore Cottage. Photo: AP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

LONDON, Jan 19, 2020, SMH. A former press secretary to the Queen has joined a chorus of voices warning that Meghan may never return to Britain in an official capacity after a deal was struck to formalise the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s exit from the royal family, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Prince Harry and Meghan will no longer use their “royal highness” titles, receive public funds or represent the monarchy abroad, under the agreement outlined in statements from the Queen and Buckingham Palace.

In a breakthrough announced on Sunday (AEDT) following days of negotiations over the pair’s future, Buckingham Palace said the couple would cease to be working members of the royal family when a series of new arrangements are implemented over the next four months.

Prince Harry and wife Meghan will no longer be working members of the royal family as they embark on a more independent future, Buckingham Palace says.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” the Queen said in a personal statement released early Sunday morning Australian time.

“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.

“It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”

The Queen added she was “particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family” – an observation that has prompted scepticism given the royal rupture that has torn at the family for two years. Dickie Arbiter, who served as press secretary to the Queen for more than a decade, was among the sceptics.

“I doubt whether Meghan will actually return to the UK, which is a great shame because she was a great asset to both the royal family and to the UK,” he told Nine’s The Today Show.

Reports from Arbiter and several British tabloids that staff at the couple’s official UK residence are being reassigned to other postings within the royal family have further fuelled speculation that the duchess will not return in any meaningful or permanent capacity.

Arbiter’s prediction was echoed by several British newspapers including London’s The Telegraph, which carried an article saying that after 72 working days as a senior member of the royal family, a visit to military families in Windsor in November may have been Meghan’s last official engagement as a royal.

Royal commentator Dickie Arbiter says the arrangement for Harry and Meghan’s future is “the best they could have hoped for”.

A bombshell January 9 announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wanted to step aside as senior members of the royal family, earn their own income and split their time between Britain and Canada caught the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William off guard.

The trio, supported by palace officials, have been working every day since to devise a new model that gives Harry and Meghan the freedom they want but does not threaten the monarchy or risk a public backlash.

Under the new arrangements, the pair will be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. They will not use their “royal highness” styling but, in a move designed to avoid the appearance of looking petty, will not be stripped of it.

In a surprise development, the pair have agreed to repay to taxpayers the £2.4 million ($4.5 million) cost of recent renovations on their Frogmore Cottage in the shadow of Windsor Castle. They will live in the property when they are in Britain.

In a separate statement, Buckingham Palace said Harry and Meghan were “grateful” to the Queen and family for their support.

“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.”

Harry and Meghan will now be free to earn their own income in North America, however it is unclear whether they will be able to use their “Sussex Royal” brand after registering it as an official trademark last year. Experts have suggested the pair could attract tens of millions of dollars in revenue a year from speeches and sponsorships.

Harry has also accumulated substantial wealth after inheriting millions from his mother, Princess Diana, and a large share of the tens of millions of pounds the Queen Mother transferred to a trust fund before her death.

He will also continue to receive funds from Prince Charles, though it is not known whether that will be via the profits earned by the Duchy of Cornwall – a huge grouping of mostly regional land and buildings managed by the Prince of Wales. Profits from the 700-year-old private estate have long been used to fund the public, private and charitable activities of Prince Charles’ household and those of William and Harry.

The palace said it would not comment on who would fund the couple’s security arrangements, but hinted the British taxpayer would continue to carry the cost via the Home Office.

“There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security,” it said.

Bevan Shields is the Europe correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Share it

Exclusive: Beyond the Covid-19 world's coverage