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Harry and Meghan to lose all honorary titles

  • Published at 02:14 pm February 19th, 2021
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle
File Photo: Prince Harry, left, Meghan Markle Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan formally stepped down as senior royals in March last year

Britain's Prince Harry will relinquish his honorary military appointments and patronages after confirming to Queen Elizabeth II that he and his wife Meghan Markle will not return as working royals, Buckingham Palace announced Friday.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are officially known, rocked the British monarchy when they quit frontline royal duties a year ago and relocated to the United States, where they have embarked on several commercial ventures.

Under the terms of their departure, thrashed out at an emergency summit with the queen in early 2020, Harry agreed the couple would stop using the "Royal Highness" title and no longer carry out duties on behalf of the monarch, but vowed to review the moves a year on.  

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family," Buckingham Palace said.

"The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.

"The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family."

The palace statement added: "While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family."

However, it appears they will retain their official titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Harry remains sixth in line to the throne, with no change in the line of succession.

A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan said the couple had shown they "remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world".

It noted they had offered their continued support to the organisations they had represented "regardless of official role". 

"We can all live a life of service. Service is universal," the spokesperson added.

Titles to go

Prince Harry and Meghan formally stepped down as senior royals in March last year -- dubbed "Megxit" by the British press -- after announcing in January that they intended to "work to become financially independent" and moving to the US.

Also read: British royals Harry, Meghan step back from senior roles in surprise move

It followed reports Meghan was deeply unhappy with life inside the centuries-old institution and increasing complaints from the couple about media intrusion.

The move reportedly caused acrimony with Harry's brother Prince William, who is second in line to the throne.

The couple, who announced they were expecting a second child on Valentine's Day, have launched several legal cases against UK news outlets alleging invasion of privacy -- including one that ended this month with a victory against Associated Newspapers.

The couple are poised to give an "intimate" interview about their lives with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey.

Rugby, theatre say thanks 

Prince Harry, a former soldier who served with the British Army in Afghanistan, holds several honorary military titles related to the Royal Marines, air force and navy.

He also held Commonwealth appointments and some other patronages, including with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League.

The RFU were among the first of the impacted organisations to respond, thanking Harry "for his time and commitment" as patron.

"The RFU has greatly valued his contribution to promoting and supporting the game," it added on Twitter.

Meghan was also handed honorary roles after she wed Harry in a fairytale ceremony at Windsor Castle in May, 2018, including becoming a patron of the National Theatre.

It also thanked her for the support offered during her briefer than expected tenure.

"The Duchess championed our work with communities and young people across the UK, and our mission to make theatre accessible to all," it said on Twitter, noting the process of appointing a new patron had begun.

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