Thursday 23 January 2020

The signs were there - how Meghan and Harry carefully laid the groundwork for their exit

Royal watchers around the world are still reeling after Meghan and Harry's shocking departure announcement, Caitlin McBride details how the signs were clear to see over the last year

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex(R) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex(L) leave the Youth Employment Services Hub in Tembisa township, Johannesburg, on October 2, 2019 SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex(R) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex(L) leave the Youth Employment Services Hub in Tembisa township, Johannesburg, on October 2, 2019 SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have announced their decision to ‘step back’ as senior members of the British royal family. So, what does it all mean?

In short, a logistical nightmare. Soon after releasing their statement on Instagram, alongside their detailed website Sussex Royal, the backlash began.

If we go over a lot of their decisions over the last 12 months, it’s clear this was a well-choreographed decision that they’ve been privately orchestrating for some time.

Rumours have been abound that the couple are difficult to work for, with Meghan absorbing most, if not all, of that criticism. A number of long-serving members - and new staff - of the Palace left after a relatively short time under their watch.

This left a vacancy for the couple to out-source their needs, including hiring Sara Latham as their Head of Communications, an American woman who was a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Over the course of the next few months, major changes were afoot and the narrative of Meghan being nicknamed ‘duchess difficult’ began to take hold, even during her pregnancy. There was a seemingly endless array of negative media reports about her in the UK - while the American press hailed as this sort of deity, a living embodiment of the American dream.

By September of last year, according to The Sun, she hired a powerful Anglo-American PR firm Sunshine Sachs, which made headlines because they were previously employed by Harvey Weinstein and Michael Jackson to improve their images.

The latter half of 2019 was a chaotic one for Meghan and Harry: they were juggling a newborn baby, while the spotlight was caving in on them. Although she left her acting career in 2017, Meghan also retained the services of her entertainment PR based in Los Angeles, which she confirmed in her legal papers lodged last month.

The final indicator that something big was coming was their decision to take a six-week break from ‘public duties’. As a royal, public duties includes hand-shakes, photo ops and soft diplomacy, but they were in a losing battle for privacy and spent most of the time between Los Angeles and Canada.

It's reported that Pricne Charles is "incandescent with rage" about their statement, which he learned was being publicised just a few minutes before.

The Evening Standard reports that Queen Elizabeth ordered them not to release the statement while they worked out the complicated logistics required to execute their wishes.

"Courtiers can't believe it. There are so many unanswered questions but they've just up and done it without a thought for anyone else. The plan was there to discuss it and work out a way that works for everyone in the family," a source told The Sun.

And the soap opera continues.

Online Editors

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