LONDON — Prince Harry and his American wife, Meghan, will no longer be known as "royal highnesses," surrendering their top titles in another break with their lives as servants of the crown, a palace statement said Saturday.
The announcement of a new deal for Harry and Meghan both giveth and taketh away.
The couple win their freedom from a palace-centric life of duty serving the queen as "senior working royals," which they found suffocating — especially the intense, often harsh media coverage.
But in exchange, they give up the "HRH."
This means that Harry and Meghan’s titles will be pruned back. Harry’s official title was “His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex,” and Meghan’s was “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.” The statement confirms that they have lost the “HRH” part.
When Princess Diana and Sarah, the Duchess of York, divorced their royal husbands, they, too, lost their royal highness titles.
It seemed clear that Harry and Meghan wanted to keep at least some part of their titles — and hardly surprising given that they use “SussexRoyal” on their Instagram and website, and are reportedly trying to register that as part of a global trademark.
On their new website, SussexRoyal.com, Harry and Meghan included a question-and-answer on titles in the “funding” section of their site.
They ask: “Do any other members of the Royal Family hold a title and earn an income?” and answer: “Yes, there is precedent for this structure and applies to other current members of the Royal Family who support the monarch and also have full time jobs external to their commitment to the monarchy.”
They might have been referring to people like Harry’s cousin Beatrice, or “Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York,” who works in finance.
Harry and Meghan announced they will repay $3 million in British taxpayer funds that was used to refurbish their home near Windsor Castle, a five-bedroom, former fixer-upper known as Frogmore Cottage.
Polls have shown that the majority of Britons are in favor of the couple giving up their life as full-time royals, but they did not want the taxpayer picking up the tab.
The two will also give up the salaries they received to perform as senior working royals.
The loss of top titles was expected.
Harry will continue on as prince, and the couple will still be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, titles awarded to the couple by the queen on the occasion of their wedding.
Plenty of questions remain unanswered, including what Harry and Meghan’s immigration, work and tax status will be in Britain and Canada. It is also unknown where they will live in Canada and who will pay for their security.
Buckingham Palace said it does not comment on the details of security arrangements. “There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security,” it said in a statement.
Meghan returned to the Vancouver area, where the couple spent the Christmas and New Year holidays. She is with the couple’s 8-month-old baby, Archie. Harry is expected to rejoin them shortly. The British media reported that the couple expect to spend the majority of their time in North America.
In a statement, the queen said, “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.”
She continued: “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.”
The queen reached out to her grandson’s wife, thanking the couple for “all their dedicated work,” and adding, “[I] am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.”
In a parallel statement, Buckingham Palace announced: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.”
This new arrangement means “they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties,” the statement added.
Harry, who did two tours in Afghanistan, also has several military titles he will now be relinquishing, including Captain General of the Royal Marines, an appointment handed over by his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh.
The changes will go into effect in spring this year, the palace said.
The palace said, “With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.”
The couple might not mind that their titles are slimmed down. They opted not to give their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, a courtesy title. He wasn’t entitled to be a prince, but he could have been Earl of Dumbarton.
And Meghan has revealed she likes to shorten names. In a documentary aired last fall, she said that she simply calls her husband “H.”