Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have confirmed to the Queen they will not return as working members of the Royal Family, and will return their honourary military appointments and royal patronages as a result, Buckingham Palace says.
The news comes just shy of one year on from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final engagement as senior royals, which saw them step out with other members of the Royal Family to the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2020.
"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," Buckingham Palace's statement reads.
"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.
— Emily Nash (@emynash) February 19, 2021
"While all are saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family."
Harry and Meghan immediately released their own statement, in which they said they will continue to work for the good of the world, despite no longer having military appointments and royal patronages.
"As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to organizations they have represented regardless of official role," a spokesperson for the Sussexes said, according to HELLO! UK.
"We can all live a life of service. Service is universal."
The news means Harry will no longer serve as Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington or the Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands' Small Ships and Diving. He will no longer be president of The Queen's Commonwealth Trust, while Meghan is also losing her role as vice-president of that organization.
Harry will also no longer be patron of the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League, or the London Marathon Charitable Trust. He will retain his patronages and presidencies with organizations such as African Parks, the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, Invictus Games, MapAction, Rhino Conservation Botsawana, Sentebale and WellChild, since he holds them privately.
Meghan will no longer be patron of The National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities, but will retain Smart Works and animal rescue charity Mayhew as patronages, since she holds them privately.
Harry and Meghan will retain their titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and though they will not use His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness, they will also retain those.
Several of the Sussexes' now former patronages immediately expressed their heartfelt thanks to the couple for everything they had done for them following the news.
"The Queen's Commonwealth Trust exists to support young people around the world who are delivering practical help to those who need it most," that organization said in a statement. "We have been very lucky to have had the keen support and encouragement of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in our formative years.
A statement from QCT following today’s statement from Buckingham Palace. We would like to thank The Duke and Duchess of Sussex for their support and commitment to Team QCT: pic.twitter.com/lzBG9ExnUL
— The Queen's Commonwealth Trust (@queenscomtrust) February 19, 2021
"They have enabled us to make fast progress and have helped us to take the organization to readiness for its next phase.
"We are glad that they remain in our circle of supporters.
"Our focus, as always, is on the young people we work alongside. We will be pressing on with vigour to help them reach even more people with the essential services they provide."
Prince Harry will be stepping down from his role as RFU Patron.
We would like to thank Prince Harry for his time and commitment to the RFU both in his position as Patron and Vice Patron. The RFU has greatly valued his contribution to promoting and supporting the game. pic.twitter.com/9Gp3oyuYnD
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 19, 2021
"We would like to thank Prince Harry for his time and commitment to the RFU both in his position as Patron and Vice Patron," England Rugby tweeted. "The RFU has greatly valued his contribution to promoting and supporting the game."
The Rugby Football League thanks The Duke of Sussex for his time, care and commitment in supporting Rugby League at all levels in recent years – from the children’s game to the Challenge Cup, the England teams and RLWC2021. pic.twitter.com/tijl55hWsJ
— Rugby Football League (@TheRFL) February 19, 2021
"The Rugby Football League thanks The Duke of Sussex for his time, care and commitment in supporting Rugby League at all levels and in recent years – from the children's game to the Challenge up, the England teams and RLWC2021," the Rugby Football League tweeted, sharing photos of the duke with players and children through the years.
A statement regarding the National Theatre’s patronage following today’s statement from Buckingham Palace. pic.twitter.com/YpsubODgHV
— National Theatre (@NationalTheatre) February 19, 2021
"The National Theatre is very grateful for the support offered by The Duchess of Sussex throughout the course of her patronage," that organization said in a statement. "The Duchess championed our work with communities and young p people across the UK, and our mission to make theatre accessible to all."
In 2020, when Harry and Meghan announced they would be stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family, an agreement was reached to allow them to work toward their goal of becoming "financially independent." The deal gave them the ability to make their own income. The agreement was set to be reviewed as of March 31, 2021.
The Sussexes spent much of 2020 working toward their goal of financial independence, signing a major production deal with Netflix and an agreement with Spotify, which carries their Archewell podcast. They also signed a deal with the agency that manages speaking engagements by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Barack and Michelle Obama. The couple also began the process of setting up their non-profit organization, Archewell.
2020 was a year of transition for the couple and their young son, Archie, now 21 months old. The Sussexes began the year in Canada, where they had spent a break from royal duties at the end of 2019 by staying on Vancouver Island. March 2020 saw them relocate to Los Angeles, and later to Santa Barbara's Montecito neighbourhood, where they now count the likes of Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres as neighbours.
Just this past week, Harry and Meghan announced the happy news that Archie is soon to have a sibling. They are expecting their second child. That announcement comes after Meghan revealed she had gone through a miscarriage in July 2020 in an emotional and moving piece published in The New York Times this past November.
Harry and Meghan's confirmation they will not return as working royals falls just before an interview they're set to have with Oprah on March 7. The couple will sit down with the talk show host and lifestyle guru for a primetime interview that will be broadcast on CBS. The conversation will begin with Oprah and the duchess speaking about "everything from stepping into life as a royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure."