Meghan Markle and Prince Harry confirm they won't return to royal roles

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4 min read

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed they will not be returning to their roles as senior royals.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made the decision to step back from their royal duties last year, but a 12-month review was put in place to assess the move.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family. Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service. The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family. While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.

The decision means Harry will no longer be Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington and Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command. The honorary titles have reverted to the Queen. It's previously been suggested she may bestow them on her daughter, Princess Anne. Harry also loses The Rugby Football Union, The Rugby Football League, and Meghan loses The Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Markle loses her association with The Royal National Theatre, a patronage that was given to her personally by the Queen and had been seen as a sign of support for the new royal.

The couple also both lose their affiliation with the Queen's Commonwealth Trust. Harry was president and Markle was vice president.

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role. We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”

Markle will maintain her private patronages with Mayhew, an animal charity, and Smartworks, which helps women get back into employment.

Harry keeps his patronages of African Parks, Dolen Cymru, the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, Invictus Games, MapAction, Rhino Conservation Botswana charity, Sentebale and WellChild.

The announcement came more than a month before the official end of the 12-month review period. Harry, 36, and Markle, 39, announced their intention to step back as senior members of the Royal Family in January 2020, following an extended stay in Canada following their tour in South Africa. During that trip, Markle admitted she was struggling, while Harry hinted at a rift with his brother Prince William, saying they were on different paths.

When they made their announcement in January 2020, they suggested they wanted to continue serving the Queen, while earning their own money, and dividing their time between North America and the United Kingdom.

However, after conversations between the palace and the couple, it was made clear the half-in, half-out option would not work. The couple decided to leave, with Harry saying he had not wanted the situation to end that way.

They initially moved back to Canada, but then moved to California in March 2020. After staying for a while in Tyler Perry's home, they bought their own place in Santa Barbara.

The pair have signed deals with Spotify and Netflix, producing podcasts for the former and documentaries, children's programming and scripted series for the latter.

So far one podcast has been released, a Christmas special, which was produced by their company Archewell Audio, and included a short clip of their son Archie, one, wishing listeners a Happy New Year.

They intend to launch a non-profit organization called Archewell.

The announcement of the final decision comes as Prince Philip, Harry's grandfather, has been hospitalized, and shortly before their interview with Oprah Winfrey, who has become a friend of the couple since attending their wedding in May 2018.

It also follows their announcement that Markle is expecting another baby.

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