Harry and Meghan: PM says the country wishes them well for the future

The prime minister welcomes the plan for the couple’s future, as the Queen wishes them happiness. …

The Queen arriving at St Mary the Virgin, Hillington, NorfolkImage copyright PA Media
Image caption The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of York, was greeted by well-wishers at St Mary the Virgin Church in Norfolk

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the whole country will want to wish the Duke and Duchess of Sussex well for the future as they give up royal duties.

It came as the Queen went to church near Sandringham, in her first public appearance since it was announced the couple were giving up their HRH titles.

In her statement yesterday she wished them “a happy and peaceful new life”.

But Thomas Markle, Meghan’s father, accused them of “cheapening” the Royal Family.

Earlier this month, Prince Harry and Meghan announced their intention “to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent”.

It prompted intensive discussions between the prince and other senior royals, led by the Queen.

On Saturday, the Queen and Buckingham Palace announced that they had reached a new arrangement – that the couple would no longer use their HRH titles, receive public funds for royal duties or formally represent the Queen from spring.

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Media caption“Nothing like this has ever happened before” – royal correspondent Daniela Relph explains

Speaking briefly to reporters at a summit in Berlin, Mr Johnson said he had been confident the Royal Family would find a way forward for Prince Harry and Meghan, adding: “I think the whole country will want to join in wishing them the very best for the future.”

However in comments made for a forthcoming Channel 5 documentary, Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, accused the couple of “destroying” the Royal Family which he called “one of the greatest long-living institutions ever”.

“Every young girl wants to become a princess and she got that and now she’s tossing that away,” he said.

“It looks like she’s tossing that away for money.”

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Media captionMeghan Markle’s father reacts to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex deciding to step down as senior royals

Dickie Arbiter, former press secretary to the Queen, said the new arrangement had turned a crisis for the Royal Family into a “workable situation” that was “the best sort of deal they could have come up with, without totally upsetting the apple cart”.

Diana Pearl, a former Royal reporter at People, agreed, saying perception of the Royal Family would not ultimately be damaged.

She said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge “look very solid and drama-free after this whole experience – and they really are the future of the family.”

However Katie Nicholl, Vanity Fair royal correspondent, said Harry and Meghan have won their independence, but the Royal Family has lost their “very magical and unique brand”.

‘Everyone has lost’

Who has won?, some ask. Harry and Meghan have got what they want. And for some that is enough. Round one to the Sussexes.

But the price is high, much higher than it was originally thought. The Sussexes and the palace first hoped there might be a way to keep the couple half-in half-out, perhaps with select but high visibility royal duties in and out of the UK.

That’s not happening. Royal through blood and marriage they will always be. But professionally Royal, publicly Royal, they no longer are. They will carry out no duties, no tours, use no royal title. That Royal part their life – all of Harry’s life – is over.

It is a huge step. Only Edward VIII went further, and his is a bitter example.

No one has won. Everyone – family, Crown and country – has lost.

Last year, Prince Harry and Meghan spoke of the difficulties of royal life and media scrutiny, with the duke saying he feared his wife would fall victim to “the same powerful forces” that led to his mother’s death.

In her statement on Saturday, the Queen said she was pleased that a “constructive and supportive way forward for [her] grandson and his family” had been found.

She said she recognised the “challenges” they had experienced “as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years”.

Buckingham Palace said the duke and duchess understood that under the new arrangement, they were required to withdraw from royal duties, including official military appointments, but would continue to “uphold the values of Her Majesty”.

The duke and duchess intend to repay £2.4m of taxpayer money used for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, the statement said.

The house in Windsor, for which they will pay rent, will remain their family home as they divide their time between the UK and Canada.

The pair will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations – the duke currently holds 16 patronages, including the Invictus Games Foundation, the Royal Marines and the Rugby Football League; and the duchess four – the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, London-based animal charity Mayhew, and women’s charity Smart Works.

They will no longer use HRH, an abbreviation of His/Her Royal Highness, which is part of the title of some members of the Royal Family.

Image copyright Yui Mok/PA Wire
Image caption Prince Harry outside Buckingham Palace on Thursday

Some questions about the couple’s future status remain unanswered, including what their tax and immigration status will be in the UK and Canada.

It is not yet known whether Meghan still intends to gain British citizenship, which would entail her spending a certain amount of time in the UK.

Another question is the issue of their security bill when they are in Canada, said David McClure, an expert on royal finances.

“The Canadians are not keen on picking up the tab, so I’m sure there will be quite heated discussions between the Canadian government and the British government as to who pays for it,” he said, adding that the Sussexes might come under pressure to contribute to the cost.

Image copyright AFP/Justice for Girls
Image caption Meghan this week visited a girls’ charity in Vancouver

The couple have already begun a transition phase of living in Canada and the UK.

The duchess is in the Commonwealth country with son Archie, where the Sussexes were for six weeks over the festive period.

On Tuesday she visited a charity in Vancouver which campaigns for teenage girls living in poverty.

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