Prince Harry, Meghan Markle fix March 31 for royal exit
London, Feb 19: Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Wednesday announced March 31 as the date of their formal exit as frontline royals following discussions with Buckingham Palace on formalising their new financially independent roles.
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will no longer have an office at Buckingham Palace in London as they stop carrying out formal royal duties for Queen Elizabeth II from April 1, with the formal arrangements of the split to be assessed after 12 months.
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will formally step down as senior royals from March 31," a spokesperson for the couple said.
Harry, 35, will retain his military ranks of Major, Lieutenant Commander and Squadron Leader and will not use his honorary military positions or perform any official duties associated with these roles. The couple will retain their His and Her Royal Highness (HRH) titles but would not be permitted to use them. The use of the word "Royal" as part of their Sussex Royal brand is reportedly still under discussion with palace officials.
The spokesperson for the couple, who are expected to settle down in Canada and spend some time in the UK "regularly", said that they will unveil further details of their non-profit charitable foundation later in the year.
Meanwhile, the duo will be back in the UK in the next few weeks to complete around six formal engagements, including Harry's attendance at an Invictus Games event with singer Jon Bon Jovi next week. Markle, 38, is set to attend an International Women's Day event in early March, with the couple joining other senior royals for a Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.
Last month, in a royal family first, the couple had signed up to a formal exit deal, which saw them give up their UK taxpayer funding. The deal, which now comes into effect from April 1, means the couple will no longer be representing the Queen in an official capacity. Queen Elizabeth II said the agreement followed months of discussions and was a "constructive and supportive" way forward for her grandson and his family after Harry and Meghan had announced plans to step back as senior royals.
"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family," the 93-year-old monarch's personal statement read at the time. "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," she said, as she thanked the couple for their work for the UK and across the Commonwealth.
The couple have been in Canada since the agreement was clinched with their nine-month-old son Archie. They had a particularly difficult year in 2019 when they spoke out about the media glare on their role in a television documentary and decided to take legal action against British tabloids over breach of privacy. "The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," Harry said in a speech last month. "The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change," he added.