As soon as Harry and Meghan issued their staggering statement announcing they “intend to step back” as senior royals, become financially independent, and split their time between the U.K. and North America, the questions came thick and fast. Will Harry keep his position in the line of succession? Will Prince Charles continue to use his private income to fund them? How will this work?
One place where there are—as yet—absolutely no answers to these questions is at Buckingham Palace. Indeed, no one except the Sussexes appears to have had any time to figure out how their “new working model” might actually work. At the same time as Harry and Meghan sent their personal message out via email, content was ready for a new Sussex Royal website about how they hope to operate from now on. In contrast, the rest of the royal family was left blindsided, eventually managing to issue a two-sentence statement almost two hours later describing things as “complicated.”
The mood at the palace? “Disappointed” is one way of putting it. Royal fury is an over-used phrase, but it might just be the most appropriate in this case.
Aides stressed tonight that the statement by the Sussexes was a “personal” one. They pointed out that while the royal family were recently made aware of Harry and Meghan’s intent to look at new ways of doing things, discussions were at a “really early stage.” However, the Sussex Royal website is full of information including details of how they see themselves operating. Much of it raises more questions than it answers.
They state that they are looking forward to “financial independence” and will no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, public money given to the Queen for royal duties. However, they also make it clear that they intend to continue to use Frogmore Cottage—renovated using money from the Sovereign Grant—as an official residence when in the U.K. And they indicate that they will undertake official tours representing the Queen and at the request of the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which are paid for by the Sovereign Grant, except in the case of visits to Commonwealth Realms which are funded by the host country.
It’s clear that a big motivating factor for the Sussexes is the desire to liberate themselves from a structure that currently gives British media outlets preferential access to their work. An entire section of their website is devoted to media relations, detailing their assessment of the current “royal rota” situation and the fact that they want to “reshape and broaden access to their work.”
It seems that they interpret not receiving Sovereign Grant funding as an opportunity to act autonomously and exit the current reporting system. However, as with everything about this plan, nothing seems to have been finalised with the rest of “the firm.”
What is obvious is just how determined Harry and Meghan are to make a big change. Their unhappiness was laid bare for all an ITV documentary last October following their tour of Africa. “It is not enough to just survive something. That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive and feel happy,” Meghan told Tom Bradby. It may be that a new arrangement gives them the chance to thrive. But what that arrangement looks like—and how it fits in with the rest of the royal family—is currently anything but clear.
– Town & Country