It’s been just three years since American actor Meghan Markle and royal Prince Harry were set up on a blind date. The fateful night in July of 2016 led to a marriage that has reshaped views of the British monarchy. The past three years have seen Meghan and Harry hit both highs and lows. A definitive high was the birth of their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, in May of 2019. However, life in the spotlight and dealing with the United Kingdom’s notorious tabloids have made it difficult for the couple to thrive in their royal roles. The couple has captured the imagination of not only a country but also the world and the pressure that’s been applied is too much to bear.
On January 8th, Meghan and Harry released a statement and announced that they’d be “stepping back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family.” The news shocked many as it seemed to have been done without the knowledge of the queen or coordination with the royal family. In addition to “stepping back,” the couple announced that they’d be splitting their time between the United Kingdom and North America. Further, they plan on becoming financially independent and no longer receive funding from the sovereign grant. The events leading up to the “Megxit” announcement offer clues as to why this occurred and what specifically precipitated the dramatic departure.
November 2016 – Prince Harry put out a statement condemning the press’s coverage of his girlfriend. “This is not a game – it is her life and his.”
Before they were even official, Prince Harry had to release a statement condemning the press coverage of his girlfriend, Meghan Markle. In the statement, there are details about the issues the Prince had with the press:
The past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from the public – the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.
The Prince simply asked the press to reflect on their behavior and change its ways “before any more damage is done.”
September 2017 – Meghan lands the cover of Vanity Fair. She discussed the “challenges” she faced dating Prince Harry.
Meghan was the cover story for the September issue of Vanity Fair in 2017. She gave an extensive interview with details about dating a royal. She told the magazine about dating Prince Harry, “It has its challenges, and it comes in waves – some days it can feel more challenging than others.”
“And right out of the gate it was surprising the way things changed. But I still have this support system all around me, and, of course, my boyfriend’s support,” she said.
Looking back, it really seems like Meghan was downplaying the “challenges” that she faced from the media.
November 2017 – The couple announces their engagement in an interview with the BBC.
Prince Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in an interview with the BBC. During the interview, each had something to say about being scrutinized.
Meghan admitted that she was “naive” about her involvement with Prince Harry and what it would be like to date him. She continued with criticism of the press, “We were hit so hard at the beginning with a lot of mistruths.”
Harry told the BBC that he tried to warn his fiancee about the press “as much as possible,” but they had both been “totally surprised” by the intense interest.
May 2017- Meghan and Prince Harry get married.
It seemed, at the time, like things had begun to cool off for Meghan and Harry before their wedding. Then there was so much fabricated drama around Meghan’s family and their attendance. Meghan’s father did not attend the wedding and Meghan walked herself down the aisle with an assist from Prince Charles.
Meghan held the world’s attention and the wedding was beautiful. The couple managed to pull it off. For many onlookers, it seemed like the wedding would put to bed some of the rumors and dirty reporting coming out about Meghan and Harry. However, after Meghan became officially a royal, things got even crazier.
October 2018 – Meghan announces pregnancy while on tour of the commonwealth.
Prince Harry and Meghan were all over the world, touring the commonwealth when they decided to announce that they were expecting. Many royal-watchers were thrilled for the newly married couple. In the coming months, the British tabloids got dirtier and actively participated in mom-shaming Meghan.
As Meghan’s pregnancy progressed, tabloids ran stories saying that Meghan was “flaunting” her baby bump and accused her of “virtue signaling.” They thought Meghan touched her bump “excessively.”
The Guardian‘s Suzanne Moore criticized the tabloids writing that Meghan was simply being a mom. Moore wrote, “She is not allowed to have those feelings, though, because her job is to breed in captivity. The Duchess of Sussex is public property as far as the media are concerned […] the subtext is that she is devious.”
March 2019 – Meghan and Prince Harry leave Kensington Palace for Frogmore Cottage.
Meghan and Prince Harry leave Kensington for Frogmore Cottage after £2.4 million in upgrades are made to the property. This set off rumors that Prince Harry and Prince William were fighting or in some sort of mysterious rift.
What should have been an extremely exciting and momentous time for this young couple expecting their first child, became a spectacle.
March 2019 – March was a big month for Meghan because it was also announced that she would become Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
As rumors of distance from the monarchy were already in full-force, it was announced that Meghan would be the Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. In her new role, “The Duchess will highlight the Trust’s partnerships with young people across the Commonwealth, and in particular, its work supporting women and girls,” a release read.
At an event Meghan for International Women’s Day, Meghan remarked, “If things are wrong and there is a lack of justice, and there is an inequality, then someone needs to say something.”
May 2019 – The couple welcomes their first child, Archie.
Archie was born early morning on the 6th of May, 2019 and weighed 7lbs and 3oz. A truly joyous occasion. In addition to photographs with the Queen, Archie was famously announced by Prince Harry in an impromptu news conference in front of horse stables.
Later, after the announcement was made, the couple made more news by stating that Archie would not have an official title and instead would be referred to as “Master.” Rumors started to swirl that the couple was distancing itself from the rest of the monarchy. What should have not been a big deal, blew up.
June 2019 – Prince Harry and Meghan split from the Royal Foundation Charity.
Further fueling rumors about a rift between Princes Harry and William, the couple split from a charity run by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They decided to create their own charity. This news came after the couple had moved, created their own Instagram account, and by all measures were distancing themselves from the rest of the monarchy.
Before the announcement, the tabloids were publishing pieces saying that Meghan and Kate were fighting. Then the tabloids said Harry and William were fighting. No matter if they were correct or not, this seemed to validate some of the dubious claims.
August 2019 – The couple announced they would only be having two children for the sake of the planet.
Meghan and Harry announced that they would only be having two children for the sake of the planet. Naturally, the British press lost its mind after the announcement and began battering the couple for their use of private jets for travel. They had been posting a lot on Instagram about climate change and organizations intent on fighting it. They also pledged to use their charity to fight for the planet. Many accused the couple of being hypocrites.
September 2019- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex tour South Africa.
In addition to touring southern Africa, the couple agreed to take part in an intimate documentary of their experience. The couple revealed a lot about the pressures of public life and the strain it was causing. Meghan admitted that friends had advised her not to marry the Prince because of how horrible the British tabloids would be.
“I really tried to adopt this sensibility of the British stiff upper lip, but I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging. I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair,” Meghan said in the documentary describing her treatment by the press.
Harry went further stating that he and Meghan were considering moving to Africa part-time to escape the press. He described the experience as painful. “For me and my wife, of course, there’s a lot of stuff that hurts … especially when the majority of it is untrue.”
October 2019 – The Duchess of Sussex sues the publisher of Mail on Sunday.
British tabloid, Mail on Sunday published a personal letter Meghan had written to her estranged father. Meghan announced that she was suing the tabloid for its behavior. Shortly after the lawsuit was announced, Prince Harry launched an unprecedented attack on the British tabloid press saying, that he could no longer be a “silent witness to her private suffering.”
Prince Harry’s statement continued, “There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one … I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
It was a bold statement that the media should have taken to heart.
November 2019 – Christmas in Canada.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they would not be spending Christmas with the rest of the family. Instead, the couple decided to take a 6-week vacation to Canada.
We should have known something was definitely going on when this was announced.
January 2020 – On the 8th, Meghan and Harry announced their split from the monarchy.
In a shocking announcement, the couple said in a statement:
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
It’s been an eventful few years leading up to the announcement by Meghan and Harry. From the relentless press to the constraints of the monarchy, it’s now clear that the couple needs to forge their own unique path. After looking back at all the couple has gone through, we’re happy they’re making the change.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 November 2016 – Prince Harry put out a statement condemning the press’s coverage of his girlfriend. “This is not a game – it is her life and his.”
- 2 September 2017 – Meghan lands the cover of Vanity Fair. She discussed the “challenges” she faced dating Prince Harry.
- 3 November 2017 – The couple announces their engagement in an interview with the BBC.
- 4 May 2017- Meghan and Prince Harry get married.
- 5 October 2018 – Meghan announces pregnancy while on tour of the commonwealth.
- 6 March 2019 – Meghan and Prince Harry leave Kensington Palace for Frogmore Cottage.
- 7 March 2019 – March was a big month for Meghan because it was also announced that she would become Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
- 8 May 2019 – The couple welcomes their first child, Archie.
- 9 June 2019 – Prince Harry and Meghan split from the Royal Foundation Charity.
- 10 August 2019 – The couple announced they would only be having two children for the sake of the planet.
- 11 September 2019- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex tour South Africa.
- 12 October 2019 – The Duchess of Sussex sues the publisher of Mail on Sunday.
- 13 November 2019 – Christmas in Canada.
- 14 January 2020 – On the 8th, Meghan and Harry announced their split from the monarchy.
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