For what it’s worth, Harry and Meghan look really, really happy
If you’re like me – a longtime Royal Watcher – so many statements from Her Majesty about her Family’s personal life (and, I guess, a little professional mixed in there, too) is staggering. Two in one day on Saturday! Just in case you missed them (one from the Queen and one from Buckingham Palace on behalf of Harry and Meghan), they read:
From Her Majesty:
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 my family.
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 the family.
It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.
Okay so yeah, yeah, yeah. I work in public relations in my day to day life, and that’s a bunch of PR mishmash.
Then, the second statement, from Harry and Meghan:
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.
As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties.
With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.
The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.
Buckingham Palace does not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security.
This new model will take effect in the Spring of 2020.
So, the key takeaways:
· While they still maintain their titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan – and not the Queen, as first reported – chose to strip themselves of their HRH titles. Random aside on titles and proof that this has been in the works for a long time – Archie never was given a title, so he could never have one taken away if things went south. I know Harry and Meghan have been hoping for this for a long time. Also proof that this is not all because of Meghan and she is not the Yoko Ono of 2020 as so many of you have been sending me that meme about 200,000 times – I’ve seen it, so you can stop sending it now – I found a clip from an interview Harry did in 2005 or 2006 where he said if he had it his way, he’d move to Africa and never be seen or heard from publicly again. And that, of course, was a full decade before he met Meghan.
· Whereas originally they wanted to work for the Family part-time, they are now not working for the Family at all – but will still support their patronages. The Sussex Royal Instagram (the big debate now is, now that they aren’t Royal, can they keep Sussex Royal? We shall see) showed Meghan visiting one of her patronages, Mayhew, earlier this month.
· Their home in the U.K. will be Frogmore still, and they will pay back 2.4 million pounds for the refurbishments. I’ve heard conflicting reports this week that Frogmore staff was let go, and I’ve also heard reports that they weren’t.
· Still unsure what the deal is with their security, but I will say that what really pissed me off at original (untrue) reports that the Queen stripped Harry and Meghan of their HRH is that generally, with the loss of the HRH title, one loses security as well, just as Diana did upon her divorce from Charles on August 28, 1996. One year and three days later, Diana was dead, and one of the root causes of her death was the horrible security provided to her in Paris that night – Henri Paul, the drunk driver who ended up killing himself, Diana, and Dodi Fayed, would never have been allowed on Diana’s security detail if she were still under Royal protection. But the Queen is absolved in my eyes because Harry and Meghan chose themselves to no longer be HRH. Disclaimer: No, I’m not saying the Queen killed Diana, but I am saying that her security in Paris was awful and had she still been HRH, that would not have been the case.
Since the release of those statements Saturday, we’ve seen Meghan looking remarkably relaxed taking her two dogs on a walk with Archie, and Harry returning to Canada with a smile on his face as wide as the Mississippi. But before Harry returned to his wife and son in Canada, he gave one of the most emotionally charged speeches I’ve ever heard a Royal give. Here’s the speech in full – printed in full because you need to read it. He delivered it an event for his charity, Sentebale.
Good evening, and thank you for being here for Sentebale, a charity me and Prince Seeiso created back in 2006 to honor my mother’s legacy in supporting those affected by HIV and AIDS.
Before I begin, I must say that I can only imagine what you may have heard or perhaps read over the last few weeks...So, 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.
What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.
I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.
I was born into this life, and it is a great honor to serve my country and the queen.
When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing.
You’ve looked out for me for so long, but the media is a powerful force, and my hope is one day our collective support for each other can be more powerful because this is so much bigger than just us.
It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service.
It has also been a privilege to meet so many of you, and to feel your excitement for our son Archie, who saw snow for the first time the other day and thought it was bloody brilliant!
I will always have the utmost respect for my grandmother, my commander in chief, and I am incredibly grateful to her and the rest of my family, for the support they have shown Meghan and I over the last few months.
I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear and dedicates his life to supporting the causes, charities and military communities that are so important to me.
Together, you have given me an education about living. And this role has taught me more about what is right and just than I could have ever imagined. We are taking a leap of faith - thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.
So...welcome to Richard’s garden – minus the fountain!
First, may I echo Johnny’s words earlier and thank in particular Patricia and Richard, and all the teams involved in making tonight so very special and such a success...at least so far...
Thank you also for turning up!
I’m sure Lewis was the draw factor, but I know you will all be leaving tonight with a better understanding about what we’re trying to achieve at Sentebale, and that’s what really matters to us.
I first visited Lesotho many years ago, back in 2004, and was shown around by my dear friend Prince Seeiso – who sadly isn’t able to join us this evening.
Struck by the hardship and challenges so many children faced, and with the support of local partners, we set up Sentebale two years later. The word Sentebale means “forget me not” in Sesotho and also serves as a memory of both Prince Seeiso’s mother as well as my own.
Since the beginning, we’ve developed a series of programs and created the purpose built Mamahato center to help a generation of children break through the stigma that is allowing the HIV epidemic to thrive. Half of those children had lost either one or both of their parents to the virus.
But today through our networks of clubs, camps and programs across both Lesotho and Botswana, we help children and young adults to learn that they can go on to live happy and productive lives, despite being HIV positive.
We teach them that this human immunodeficiency virus doesn’t have to be a death sentence for anyone anymore, that the real enemy we are fighting is stigma, and the antiquated attitudes that work against young people coming forward when wanting to take an HIV test. This is relevant in every part of the world today, including here in the UK, where there are an estimated 110,000 people living with HIV.
Here, I can’t not mention my dear friend Gareth Thomas – who in my mind – has quite literally changed the way people think about HIV – so thank you bud.
By being here tonight, every one of you are helping to fight that stigma and helping a generation of children and young adults to becoming the generation that ends it.
My work and commitment for this charity, that I founded 14 years ago now, will never falter. I and all those at Sentebale, be it here in London, Lesotho or Botswana – will continue the work to make real long-lasting impact for all those that have been left vulnerable.
There’s a lot to do, but it’s only possible by working together and receiving support from people like yourselves... and like Lewis Capaldi...who has so generously flown here directly from Malaysia, via Dubai – taking tonight out as a detour on his way to the Grammys in Los Angeles – where he is nominated for Best Song. Lewis, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us this evening. We are all incredibly grateful.
An excellent summation from Harry, one that, I think, backs up what I said on the blog a couple of days ago. The only part of that speech that left my tongue wagging for more information was when he said there was “no other option,” leading me to speculate what happened? Was it racism-related? Andrew-related? Media-related? What happened? What was the final nail in the coffin? I hope that will come out in time, and I believe it will.
The whole Sussex fam is finally reunited in Canada. So now, it remains to be seen, is what’s next. I’ve heard talks of everything from Meghan is going to do Disney voiceovers and produce and maybe even star in film and television projects, to the Sussexes are signing deals here and deals there with Netflix and are being paid $15 million for a memoir and on and on and on. The dust will settle, and it will be fascinating to see what’s next for these two. And, yes, The Duchess Commentary will still cover both Kate and Meghan, even though Meghan is no longer a working member of the Royal Family; she is, after all, still a duchess.
Other tidbits – Charles will still pay Harry money, so the Sussexes won’t be going broke anytime soon. (Harry is reportedly worth about $40 million, and Meghan, $7 million.) Also, you can still expect to see the Sussexes at big Royal events like Trooping the Colour. Also, Meghan has already threatened more lawsuits against the paparazzi, as they’ve chased her while driving to pick a friend up for the airport, chased her while walking the dogs, chased her everywhere. As we’ve already seen, the Sussexes do not mess around when it comes to being litigious, so please, paparazzi, let them enjoy their new life in peace and don’t wipe those happy, relaxed smiles off of their faces.
Let them be.