On this day last year, the Queen issued a rare personal statement to update the public on the crisis sparked by a bombshell announcement published by Meghan and Prince Harry on their now-defunct Instagram account Sussex Royal. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex expressed their intention to “step back” as full-time working royals on January 8 2020.
Just 10 days later, following an emergency summit taking place at Sandringham between Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Prince William and the monarch, the Queen and Buckingham Palace made clear which new positions would take on the Sussexes within the Royal Family.
While the palace’s statement was a formal announcement detailing the terms of the so-called Megxit agreement, the Queen’s message was in first person and free of many of the royal formalities usually found in official statements.
In her address, the monarch ditched royal titles and chose to call the Sussexes by their name in a rare move.
Moreover, she spoke candidly about the Duchess of Sussex and her efforts to fit in the Royal Family.
The Queen said in her statement last year: “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.
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“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.”
The Queen ended this deeply personal message expressing hopes for the future of Meghan and Harry.
She said: “It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”
During what has become known as the Sandringham Summit in January last year, Prince Harry agreed on relinquishing his three military patronages.
Meghan and Harry have retained their full royal titles – but have been asked not to use their His/Her Royal Highness styles after the end of March 2020, when they officially started their lives as non-working royals.
In their first statement on Megxit, Meghan and Harry had mentioned their desire to continue to serve the Crown by carrying out royal tours and engagements while also pursuing financially profitable deals.
This position as part-time working royals was reportedly deemed impossible during the summit, and the Sussexes had to give up their rights to carry out royal visits.
However, they were allowed to retain their patronages, with which they have remained in touch throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
From Megxit, Meghan and Harry gained the freedom to live abroad with their son while retaining Frogmore Cottage as their base in England.
This groundbreaking move also allowed the couple to pursue commercial deals.
Prince Harry spoke about the terms agreed with his family members hours after the deal was struck, confessing he did not get everything he was hoping for from the talks.
Speaking during an event organised in honour of his charity Sentebale, Harry said: “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.”