Meghan Markle and Prince Harry said their move away from the UK was 'years in the making'

meghan markle prince harry
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in December 2017.Jeremy Selwyn/WPA Pool/Getty Images
  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said in their Netflix series that they tried to leave the UK beginning in 2018.

  • Before moving to the US, they said they tried to move to Commonwealth countries as working royals.

  • They presented the royal family with plans to move to New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had wanted to move away from the UK for years, as they shared in "Harry & Meghan."

Volume II of the Netflix docuseries dropped on Thursday, exploring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's time as senior royals and their step back from the royal family.

In episode five, Harry and Meghan revealed they had presented the monarchy with three different plans for them to remain working royals but move to Commonwealth countries outside the UK before they ultimately stepped back.

"We thought it would be good to give ourselves some breathing space, but also we were really passionate about continuing our work throughout the Commonwealth, to support the Queen," Harry said.

queen elizabeth, meghan markle, prince harry
Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry on July 10, 2018, in London, England.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Meghan also said leaving the UK was important to her and Harry because the royal rota system is based in London, which would mean the press couldn't track them as easily and other members of the royal family could be the focus of news stories.

First, Meghan and Harry said they presented the idea of moving to New Zealand to the royal family in 2018, but it didn't happen. Then, at the beginning of 2019, they suggested they move to South Africa, where they could support charities.

"The job is a lot of cause-driven work. So I thought, 'Well, this is great,'" Meghan said of her thinking on why South Africa could be a good place for them. "There's an asset in having a woman of color when you have 50 plus Commonwealth countries, the majority of which are people of color."

Harry then said the Queen's office, Charles' office, and William's office all signed off on the couple moving to South Africa after reviewing an "internal document" the public didn't know about.

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Meghan Markle visits the Nyanga Township with Prince Harry during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019, in Cape Town, South Africa.Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

"Then it was leaked to The Times newspaper," Harry said, referring to a story published by The Times in April 2019.

"Then that whole plan was then scrapped because it's now become a public debate," Harry said of the response to the public story. "Once plans like that become public debates, nine times out of 10, it's gonna fail."

Finally, at the end of December 2020, Harry and Meghan spoke to Charles about moving to Canada.

"By the time I was speaking to my father from Canada, the family and their people knew that we were trying to find a different way of working for a minimum of two years," he added.

Harry said Charles then asked him and Meghan to put a plan for their move to Canada in writing. Harry said he preferred not to write the plan down because of the previous leak about South Africa, but Charles responded, "I can't do anything unless you put it in writing."

Prince Harry, King Charles during Queen Elizabeth II's funeral
King Charles III walks with Prince Harry as they arrive at St. George's Chapel inside Windsor Castle on September 19, 2022.DAVID ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Harry then wrote a plan and sent it to Charles via email on January 1, 2, and 3, 2020, he said in the series.

"In one of those, I'd mentioned that if this wasn't going to work out, then we would be willing to relinquish our Sussex titles, if need be," Harry said. "That was the plan."

Harry's email proposal to move to Canada was leaked to the press as well. The Sun wrote about the potential move by January 7, 2020.

"It became clear that the Institution leaked the fact that we were going to be moving back to Canada," Harry said, adding that he knew the email had been leaked because stories included the fact that he and Meghan would be willing to relinquish their titles in order to leave the UK.

Meghan and Harry ultimately moved to California in July 2020.

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