Harry and Meghan have quit as senior royals and revealed they will live between the UK and North America while working to become financially independent.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their announcement in a statement on their official Instagram account this evening.
They wrote: ‘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.’
Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan slammed Meghan as he blamed her for splitting up the Royal Family, writing on Twitter: ‘People say I’m too critical of Meghan Markle – but she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William and has now split him from the Royal Family. I rest my case.’
Piers, who has had a long-running feud with Meghan since he accused the former Suits actress of ‘ghosting’ him, also referenced a quote attributed to Harry after the duke reportedly told Kensington Palace staff ‘what Meghan wants, Meghan gets’ as they prepared to move out in 2018.
The couple’s move follows weeks of speculation about their future after they took an extended break from royal duties over the festive period that followed an emotional appearance in a documentary.
In the ITV programme they spoke about the pressures they have been facing and family rifts, and in a separate move Harry issued a damning statement against the media accusing sections of the press of bullying his wife.
This evening’s announcement came after Harry and Meghan’s rumoured relocation to Canada this afternoon sparked speculation that they could be about to withdraw from public life.
Her Majesty pays Harry and William jointly £5million from the £82million annual Sovereign Grant, which is funded by the taxpayer, and handed to the most senior members of the royal family.
The £5million from their grandmother the Queen is not broken down between the royal siblings – but William is believed to get slightly more so Harry and his family probably receive around £2million from the Crown.
The brothers also claim a further £3.16million a year in ‘non-official expenditure’ and is likely to be split in similar proportions.
Another source of income for Prince Harry is his annual allowance from the profits generated his father’s £1.2billion Duchy of Cornwall estate. Charles paid £4.9million to his sons from that pot last year.
Harry and Meghan also claim staffing costs, which are currently estimated at just under £1million a year.
They employ a private secretary, who can earn up to £146,000, and a nanny for Archie who would also command a six-figure salary. London ‘super nannies’ who work for the capital’s richest and most powerful families earn an average of £104,000, according to industry sources.
At Frogmore Cottage they have a housekeeper – but no chef because Meghan loves cooking – two personal assistants and two palace orderlies probably earning between £20,000 and £30,000 each.
If they move to Canada, where will they live – and how much is it likely to cost?
Harry and Meghan would naturally be drawn to Toronto, the city where they enjoyed a secret courtship of five months before their relationship was revealed to the world in October 2016.
Meghan, who was born and raised in California, considered it her home town after filming seven series of Suits there and openly says Canada is her ‘second home’ after Britain.
The couple recently spent more than £2.4million of taxpayers’ money refurbishing their Frogmore Cottage home – and buying a property of a similar standard in a Canadian city would cost significantly more.
Frogmore House was a gift from the Queen – but any Canadian home would likely be paid from their own pocket.
Harry first met her in May 2016 when he was in Toronto to promote his Invictus Games for wounded servicemen and met the divorcee actress, who had split with her chef boyfriend of two years, Cory Vitiello.
While he was there blind date after being set up by a female friend, believed to be fashion designer Mischa Nonoo, and they ‘met for a drink’ in a Toronto bar.
They then spent the rest of 2016 meeting almost every fortnight, with Harry secretly flying to see her as she couldn’t leave the city because of her Suits commitments. They were holed up together in her flat with her dog Bogart and lived, largely, like a royal couple.
Describing their relationship, Harry has said: ‘I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly… All the stars were aligned – everything was just perfect. It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life – I fell into her life.’