Gather round, internet, because we have a lot to discuss. As you've likely heard, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are getting the f*ck outta England after months of royal feud drama, and honestly the whole thing is a mess. New developments are emerging about the couples' decision every damn minute, and if you're enormously confused by this saga, fear not, friends. We're keeping track of every single update with a handy timeline which you can whip out next time your mom/BFF/annoying royal-obsessed coworker asks for your ~hot take~ on 2020's biggest scandal. Ready? LOL, me neither, but here goes!
January 8, 2020
Meghan and Harry casually hit Instagram and drop the bombshell news that they intend to step back as senior royals, become financially independent, and split their time between North America and the United Kingdom. Wowowowowow. Here's exactly what they put in their Insta caption:
After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” the couple write in a statement posted to their Instagram account. “It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. 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.
Meghan and Harry also reveal a shiny new website outlining how they plan to distance themselves from the royal rota system of reporting, and instead engage with grassroots media organizations and up-and-coming journalists. In other words, they're giving a big FU to the British press (some of whom the couple happens to be suing).
In 2020 Harry and Meghan will be changing how they work with the media, to ensure diverse and open access to their work. Over the months ahead, through a phased approach, they plan to: pic.twitter.com/KyzW9hEcRs— Omid Scobie (@scobie) January 8, 2020
And in a pretty shocking twist, it turns out that the rest of the royal family has received zero heads-up about what Meghan and Harry are up to, with BBC News royal correspondent Jonny Dymond tweeting, “BBC understands that no other member of the Royal Family was consulted before Harry and Meghan issued their personal statement tonight, the Palace is understood to be ‘disappointed.’”
BREAKING. BBC Understands that no other member of the Royal Family was consulted before Harry and Meghan issued their personal statement tonight, the Palace is understood to be ‘disappointed’.— Jonny Dymond (@JonnyDymond) January 8, 2020
Buckingham Palace then goes ahead and drops the most terse and salty statement E-V-E-R, saying “Discussion with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand the desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
Buckingham Palace have sent their own statement out, adding that discussions with the couple are at “an early stage.” pic.twitter.com/aCXyEMQuW8— Omid Scobie (@scobie) January 8, 2020
There are obviously a *lot* of unanswered questions (will the Sussexes keep their titles?!), especially with regards to how Archie's parents will truly distance themselves from the Queen's fortune. But um, is now a good time to mention that both Meghan's *and* Harry's net worth are beyond massive? And their real estate portfolio isn't too shabby, either. They'll be juuuuuust fine.
January 9, 2020
Reports stream in about how the royals are feeling about Prince Harry peacing out, and nope...no one is okay! Let's start with Prince William, because this source quote from Us Weekly is pretty telling:
"William was blindsided by Harry and Meghan’s decision and statement.... There’s still a rift between the two brothers. It’s sad because when they were younger, William would be the first person Harry would go to with big news like this.... William is incredibly hurt, but at the same time, he has his own family to focus on and is trying to move forward with his life."
“People had bent over backward for them. They were given the wedding they wanted, the house they wanted, the office they wanted, the money they wanted, the staff they wanted, the tours they wanted and had the backing of their family. What more did they want?”
“It’s deeply unfair to the queen, who doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. It is a shoddy way to treat her. The family understands that they want to do something different and is perfectly willing to help them. People are just devastated.”
“The level of deceit has been staggering and everyone from the top of the royal household to the bottom feels like they have been stabbed in the back.”
“There is fury over how they’ve done this without any thought for the implications for the institution. The queen is deeply upset. The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge are incandescent with rage. Courtiers can’t believe it. There are so many unanswered questions but they’ve just up and done it without a thought for anyone else. The plan was there to discuss it and work out a way that works for everyone in the family.”
Completely insane, right? But plot twist: In the middle of this total sh*tshow, Kate Middleton reminds everyone that it's her freakin' birthday and drops a casual portrait of herself perched on a fence giving zero effs:
Meghan and Harry comment on her post, writing "Wishing a very happy birthday to The Duchess of Cambridge today! 🎂❤️" which we can all agree is a nice gesture. Buuuuut apparently William isn't having it, and a source tells Us Weekly that “Harry and Meghan rubbed salt into the wounds by making the huge announcement a day before Kate’s birthday. It hasn’t gone down well with William.”
At this point the internet starts to get pretty judge-y about how Meghan and Harry are handling this whole thing, but hark! A new report comes through claiming Harry tried to meet with the Queen about his plans, and was shot down by her courtiers.
According to the Evening Standard, our dude “originally contacted Prince Charles about spending more time in Canada and America just before Christmas,” and then asked for a “summit with the Queen at Sandringham.” She said yes, but THEN the meeting was reportedly blocked by palace courtiers (!!!!) and the queen told Harry not to go public. Which, well...he did anyway.
January 10, 2020
Already exhausted? Sorry, there's still so much to discuss thanks to the extremely !!!! news that Meghan peaced out of England and returned to Canada to reunite with Archie (and her two dogs), leaving Harry to deal with fallout from his family. FYI that the trip is said to be temporary, with royal reporter Chris Ship tweeting that Meghan should be back in the UK within several days:
So Prince Harry remains in the UK - presumably to start/resume/continue/end discussions with his family about his future. Meghan is indeed in Canada. It’s apparently a brief visit. It would appear to pick up Archie who wasn’t brought back to the UK for the big family bust up— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) January 9, 2020
Meanwhile, we finally get some insight into *why* Meghan and Harry want to step down as senior royals, with Harry's friend Tom Bradby saying "really bad personal splits" are behind their decision. He also dramatically muses, “There’ve been a lot of fallouts; a lot of harsh things were said around the time of the wedding. And it’s gone a bit too far. And certainly the rest of the family find Harry and Meghan very difficult, and from Harry and Meghan’s point of view, they’re just being driven out, as they see it. And it’s sad.”
P.S. Meghan's sister Samantha Markle also chimes in (because of course she does), giving this salty statement:
“It is a slap in the face. I think what is shocking is the lack of consideration for the people involved, the British royal family, the promises that were originally made to honor royal duties and to lead by example....They stepped into the spotlight knowing what the duties were, knowing what the media would be like for them. If she wanted to be so private, she wouldn’t have sat at Wimbledon with 40 empty seats around her.”
Harry's friend JJ Chalmers hits up The One Show and spills a bunch of tea on why Harry wants out, saying "The decision that he has made, at the forefront of that is to protect his family, because that’s the number one rule is to be a father and to be a husband." He continues:
"Any husband wants to protect their wife, and any father wants to protect their children. Particularly when he's a very principled individual, and so when he looks at how the media, for example, reacts and how social media talks about someone, he has to answer to his son one day when he begins to understand this and be able to look him in the face and say, ‘I made the right decision, and I did right by you.' And ultimately, he grew up in the limelight and he knows how this can end if it's not handled correctly."
In addition to this insight, a source confirms to Us Weekly that Meghan and Harry were pressured into making their announcement because British tabloid The Sun scooped them. Per the source: "It was the paper’s front page hours before the official announcement, so Harry and Meghan technically didn’t beat them to it."
Meanwhile at the Palace, the Queen tells officials to "turn a crisis into an opportunity" and come up with a plan in case future generations (aka Princess Charlotte or Prince Louis) decide to step down as senior royals.
Ah, this is simply too much! On top of allllllll that, news breaks that Meghan has reportedly inked a deal to do voiceover work with Disney in exchange for a donation to a wildlife charity called Elephants Without Borders. Watch a video of Prince Harry seemingly talking to Disney CEO Bob Iger about the opp here:
January 12, 2020
The Sunday Times claims that Prince William has expressed "sadness" about his severed bond with Harry, reportedly telling a friend:
"I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities. All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope that the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the team."
"The statement was rushed out and part of the reason for that is that Harry knew he needed to take swift action. Meghan has not settled in the U.K. and he knows that and wants her to be happy...He feared staying in the U.K. too long would lead to Meghan having a meltdown."
Clearly things are a mess, so the Queen schedules a summit in Sandringham with Harry, William, Charles, and Meghan (who plans to call in from Canada). A source lays out what they'll discuss, saying:
"Following a series of meetings and consultations across the last few days, there is a range of possibilities for the family to review which take into account the thinking the Sussexes outlined earlier in the week. As we have said previously, making a change to the working life and role of the monarchy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex requires complex and thoughtful discussions. Next steps will be agreed at the meeting. The request for this to be resolved ‘at pace’ is still Her Majesty’s wish. The aim remains days not weeks. There is genuine agreement and understanding that any decision will take time to be implemented."
January 13, 2020
Ahead of the royal summit (and amid speculation that a tell-all interview is coming), Prince Harry and Prince William issue a joint statement through their spokesperson, saying "Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge. For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful."
A joint statement from the spokespeople of Prince William and Prince Harry: pic.twitter.com/H8hqYCHirK— Omid Scobie (@scobie) January 13, 2020
We also find out that Kate Middleton is allegedly super "hurt" by Harry's decision, and "hates seeing her husband so upset.”
But wait, there's more! The Queen releases her first official statement following Meghan and Harry's announcement—and it's pretty shady. Notably, she does NOT call them "Duke and Duchess," which, gulp. Read it in full here:
Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family. Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK. These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.
Shortly after this, the British and Canadian press release opposing stories on whether or not Meghan and Harry's security detail will be covered by Canadian taxpayer money, with Evening Standard claiming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would pay an estimated £500,000 pounds in taxpayer dollars for the Sussexes' security needs. Meanwhile, Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he hasn't come to a decision yet, telling a CBC reporter "No, we haven't spent any time thinking about this issue. We obviously are always looking to make sure, as a member of the Commonwealth, we play a role. We have not had any discussions on that subject at this time."
January 14, 2020
So we’ve now had some clarification from the palace. They said: “In the end, The Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for The Duchess to join [the summit].” But we understand Harry was in contact with his wife while at Sandringham, to keep her in the loop.— Emily Andrews (@byEmilyAndrews) January 14, 2020
We also get a little more insight into Prince William and Prince Harry's drama, with a source telling The Sun they had a "falling out" right before a summer polo match, and that tensions escalated as a result. Yikesssss.
January 18, 2020
The Palace releases a statement from Queen Elizabeth, saying that she's come to an "agreement" with Harry and Meghan:
Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of the family. I recognize 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. I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family. It is my whole family's hope that today's agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.
Details about the agreement are also released, and the major takeaways are that Harry and Meghan are giving up their royal titles, will no longer receive public funds, will pay back the country for their Frogmore Cottage renovations, will pay rent on said cottage, and can no longer represent the Queen. Wow!
January 19, 2020
"I want you to hear the truth from me, as much as I can share—not as a Prince, or a Duke, but as Harry, the same person that many of you have watched grow up over the last 35 years—but with a clearer perspective. The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. I have grown up feeling support from so many of you, and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms as you saw me find the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hurray! I also know you've come to know me well enough over all these years to trust that the woman I chose as my wife upholds the same values as I do. And she does, and she's the same woman I fell in love with. We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride. Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve. For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven't always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option."
On top of that, a royal source tells People that the arrangement, which goes into effect Spring 2020, will last for a year before the royal fam revisits it—presumably to see if it's working out for everyone.
Stay tuned for more updates, because in case you haven't noticed this story is developing faster than you can say "Calm TF Down, 2020."
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