After days of negotiations, the royal family has decided what's next for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The verdict? They are will no longer use their royal titles and are "no longer working members of the royal family."
Sussex Royal, the official Instagram account of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, released a written statement from Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday, January 18. In it, Queen Elizabeth says that, "I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family."
She continues, "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. 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 our family."
The details for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's new arrangement were outlined in a separate statement from Buckingham Palace. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will still be referred to as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but they will no longer use "HRH" titles, though they have not been stripped of that designation, as Diana was when she and Prince Charles divorced. Since the couple are officially no longer working members of the royal family, they can no longer formally represent the queen. However, the couple assures that "everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty."
Financial arrangements were also shared in Buckingham Palace's statement. The couple (at their own request) will repay the taxpayer money that contributed to the refurbishment of their royal residence, Frogmore Cottage, and will pay rent for any continued use of the property when they are in the United Kingdom. In total, they'll pay back 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million). They'll also stop receiving all public funds for royal duties. However, royal reporter Omid Scobie notes that Prince Charles will continue to offer "private financial support."
The statement also notes that changes are due for Prince Harry's military service. He will forfeit the official military appointments he was given as a senior royal. As for the couple's many charitable works, they are planning to launch a new charitable foundation later this year.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry shared their intentions to step down from senior royal duties on January 8. "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. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment,” the Sussexes wrote in their initial Instagram post.
In their new life, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will split time between the U.K. and North America. Their decision was reportedly a surprise to the royal family, including the queen. However, she released a statement on January 13 in which she offered her support. "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," the monarch said.
Intense scrutiny from the British press likely contributed to the pair's decision to step down from their royal positions. Markle and Prince Harry's relationship has been brutally dissected by tabloids for years—and forced them to take legal action. The couple is currently suing multiple tabloids for hacking private voicemails. In addition, Markle is also suing the Mail on Sunday and its parent company for publishing one of her private letters. The queen seemed to acknowledge their struggles with the media in today's statement and the couple's desire to step back from the royal rota system.
The couple's new arrangement will go into effect sometime this spring, per the statement from Buckingham Palace. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the royal family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives," it read. People reports that the new arrangement will last for a year, at which point the royal family can reevaluate the situation. They note that those doing the reviewing would likely be the same foursome who met at Sandringham earlier this week: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry.
Some questions about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's future still remain. For one, Buckingham Palace did not say whether the couple can still use "Sussex Royal" brand name, which they trademarked in December.
Originally Appeared on Glamour