Harry and Meghan not returning as working members of Royal Family

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not return as working members of the Royal Family, Buckingham Palace has said.

The Queen confirmed the couple would not “continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service”.

A statement from the palace added Prince Harry and Meghan “remain much loved members of the family”.

The couple said “service is universal” and offered to continue supporting the organisations they have represented.

The duke and duchess said last January they would step back as “senior” royals and work to become financially independent.

The couple, who now live in California, formally stepped down in March, with a plan to review the arrangements after 12 months.

The confirmation means Prince Harry and Meghan will return their honorary military appointments and royal patronages, which will be redistributed to working members of the Royal Family.

Under the arrangement agreed last year, the couple gave up using the HRH titles. But Harry retains the title of prince, having been born one.

Their departure follows conversations between Harry and members of the Royal Family.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: “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.

“While all are saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.”

A spokesman for Harry and Meghan 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 organisations they have represented regardless of official role.”

They added: “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”

This could have been a formality – the end of the review period was coming up, it’s very clear what the Sussexes’ direction of travel is and equally clear that the patronages and appointments can’t really be held on to from California. Thanks for your service, goodbye.

But instead the duelling statements – and their bizarre timing, with the Duke of Edinburgh in hospital – look as if there is a fair amount of bitterness remaining.

The statement from the palace lays down the Queen’s philosophy; as far as she is concerned the couple have left the life of public service. That’s why the honorary commands and patronages have to go. You can’t do half in-half out.

Not so fast, the couple shoot back. They remain, they say, “committed to duty and service” – and “service”, far from being a matter of titles and roles, “is universal”. There is more than a flash of anger in their words.

Like all good family arguments it blows up at a sticky moment – Harry’s grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh is in hospital. So why now? One source says the story was all over the place already and would have been in the papers by the weekend. The suggestion: that one party is stampeding the other.

As to the meat of the announcement, the loss of the Captain Generalcy of the Royal Marines will sting. Harry’s military life has defined him. “Don’t cock it up,” Prince Philip told his grandson on the day he passed on the honorary command of the Marines. To yield it up now must be a heavy blow.

Agencies

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