Harry, Meghan to quit royal jobs, give up ‘highness’ titles

LONDON (AP) — Goodbye, your royal highnesses. Hello, life as — almost — ordinary civilians.

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, are quitting as working royals and will no longer use the titles “royal highness” or receive public funds for their work under a deal announced Saturday by Buckingham Palace.

Releasing details of the dramatic split, triggered by the couple’s unhappiness with life under media scrutiny in the royal fishbowl, the palace said Harry and Meghan will cease to be working members of the royal family when the new arrangements take effect within months, in the “spring of 2020.”

The couple will no longer use the prestigious titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness, but they are not being stripped of them.

They will be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Harry will remain a prince and sixth in line to the British throne.

The agreement also calls for Meghan and Harry to repay 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million) in taxpayers’ money that was spent renovating a house for them near Windsor Castle, Frogmore Cottage. The use of public funds to ready their home had raised ire in the British press.

The couple’s departure is a wrench for the royal family, but Queen Elizabeth II had warm words for them in a statement Saturday.

The 93-year-old queen said she was 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 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,” Elizabeth said.

“It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life,” she added.

The announcement came after days of talks among royal courtiers sparked by Meghan and Harry’s announcement last week that they wanted to step down as senior royals and live part-time somewhere in Canada.

Despite the queen’s kind words, the new arrangement will represent an almost complete break from life as working royals, especially for Harry. As a devoted military man and servant to the crown, the prince carries out dozens of royal engagements.

While he and Meghan will no longer represent the queen, the palace said they would “continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty” while carrying out their private charitable work.

The withdrawal of Harry from royal engagements will increase the demands on his brother,Prince William, and William’s wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Buckingham Palace did not disclose who will pay for the couple’s security going forward. It currently is taxpayer-funded and carried out primarily by a special unit of the Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard.

“There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly funded security,” it said.

Harry and Meghan have grown increasingly uncomfortable with constant media scrutiny since the birth in May of their son, Archie. They married in 2018 in a ceremony that drew a worldwide TV audience.

It is not known where in Canada they plan to locate. They are thought to be considering Vancouver Island, where they spent a long Christmas break, or Toronto, where Meghan filmed the TV series “Suits” for many years.

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