Queen’s secret message in Megxit agreement
Doing what he has done and quitting the royal family is a huge deal for Prince Harry.
He has broken all formal ties with his grandmother, father and brother and also his homeland. He is walking into the unknown. He has always said he wanted 'out' but saying it and doing it are two very different things as he is about to find out. On the face of it looks as if he and Meghan have negotiated an amazing deal for themselves. Meghan has no immediate functions to cover in the UK on behalf of what she sees as a 'toxic' royal family and Harry has only a few.
The adjustment into a non-royal unstructured life will be hard for Prince Harry. At heart he is a military man who swore allegiance to the Queen when he joined Sandhurst Military College as a young man after leaving school. In this case the woman he swore allegiance to was his very own grandmother. She was so proud of him. He was always so gutsy, so feisty and brave. He was also an expert rider, polo player and in the days when he was able to follow the hounds he was always at the front of the field as she too would have been.
In essence he was a sporty, country boy. The kind of grandson his grandmother loved. Had she not had the burden of the monarchy thrust upon her at such a young age she might have been the female equivalent of her grandson. It was never to be, but the Queen understood the unease with Harry and his royal role, because he used to tell her so himself. Like her wayward sister Princess Margaret, Harry felt he never fitted in by being the 'spare' to the heir, which was his elder brother, William, who was the important one.
When Harry became engaged to Meghan Markle, the Queen had doubts, but she was determined to do everything she could to ease Harry's romantic path. She entertained Meghan to tea at Buckingham Palace. She invited her to stay at Sandringham, which was unheard of for a couple who were not yet married, but the Queen wanted it to work for Harry and she adopted a seemingly easygoing attitude to their future, she doesn't want to see any more family upsets during her lifetime and certainly not any more broken marriages.
But within her briefly worded statement lies an iron fist in a velvet glove. She talks about a 'constructive and supportive' way forward and she supports 'their wish for a more independent life'. But they will have no royal status. They will no longer represent the Queen in the Commonwealth. They will no longer be styled HRH's or Royal Highnesses, which may not matter to us, but to the royal family styles and forms of address are important and Harry knows that even if Meghan doesn't.
The queen is saying no-one can be half in and half out of the royal family. When she became Queen in 1952, she gave up everything to take up the reins of the monarchy on the death of her father King George V1. She was a mother with two young children and a feisty attractive husband whom she no longer had time to be with. She had a unique sense of duty which Harry appears to be lacking but admires it in his grandmother. Harry was so enamoured by the Queens sense of duty he remarked on it voicing wonder at the Queens 21st birthday speech when she pledged her life, 'whether it be short or long' to the duty of her people.
This is the biggest shock since Diana gave her interview on BBC's Panorama in which she said, 'there are three of us in this marriage'. The world is agog at the drama and can't wait to see what will happen next.
Some are comparing it to the abdication, but although there are similarities between the Duke of Windsor and Prince Harry, Harry was never going to be king when he fell in love with his American divorcee. Like the Duke of Windsor when he was Prince of Wales he was adored by the ordinary people. They thought he was handsome and charismatic and he seemed to care about the problems of the country. Harry was the same. He cared about the problems of the world and he determined to try and put some of them right. Meghan seemed to share his views and according to the Queen tonight Meghan became part of the family 'quickly', but of course Meghan had no other family to take up her time.
From the spring, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are no longer working members of the royal family.
Harry has to renounce his military appointments such as being Captain General of the Royal Marines, an honour bestowed upon him by Prince Philip in December 2017. The 98-year Duke must be furious. He gave up everything to support his own wife and the institution of the monarchy in 1952.
Now he is witnessing Harry's American wife forcing his grandson to give up his family business and walk away into the unknown.
It is tragic. But it is what Harry wants at least for the present. The Queen has given him an 'olive branch' of an offer to review the situation in a year's time. Hopefully he and Meghan will have made enough money through endorsements and other financial schemes to be completely financially independent. It is exciting times for them. They have achieved what they wanted, but I fear it comes at a bigger price than they both realise.
The 'happy and peaceful new life' the queen says she wishes for them might just not exist.
Ingrid Seward is the editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine.