The Duke and Duchess of Sussex officially announced on Wednesday that they will be taking a “step back” from senior royal duties to work on becoming financially independent.
In a statement on their official Instagram account on Wednesday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said the decision was made after months of reflection and internal discussion.
They said they will split their time between the United Kingdom and North America, with many royal experts speculating they will move to Canada.
“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the statement said, adding the two would continue to support Her Majesty the Queen.
“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.”
Buckingham Palace released a short statement following the announcement, saying the discussion with the duke and duchess was at an early stage.
“We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” the palace said.
How will they earn money now?
With the desire to become financially independent, there are questions around how Markle and Prince Harry will now financially support themselves.
On their official website, the couple said they no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant. The Sovereign Grant is supported by the government and covers things like royal travel, communications and information and the maintenance of all royal palaces.
Prince Harry and Markle said five per cent of their official office was supported by this grant.
By turning away from the Sovereign Grant, the couple says they want to focus on earning a professional income on their own — something they were not able to do as official senior members of the Royal Family.
“Their Royal Highnesses feel this new approach will enable them to continue to carry out their duties for Her Majesty the Queen, while having the future financial autonomy to work externally,” their site noted.
While Markle and Prince Harry will no longer receive grant money, their official office was primarily funded — 95 per cent — through the Duchy of Cornwall, which is overseen by Prince Charles.
The Duchy of Cornwall is an estate that includes land in 23 counties, mostly in southwest England, including agricultural, commercial and residential property.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stress they want to make money from their own ventures. They also said they look forward to their new charitable entity.
At this time, it is unclear exactly how they plan to make money through non-royal business opportunities.
Speaking with Global News on Wednesday, Carolyn Harris, a royal historian and author in Toronto, said Prince Harry has inherited money from his mother Diana and his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.
Harris believes Markle may also have savings from her time as an actor on shows like Suits.
“It remains to be seen if Harry and Meghan will continue to receive support from Prince Charles’s private funds from the Duchy of Cornwall or the Queen’s private funds from the Duchy of Lancaster,” said Harris.
What about housing and royal duties?
Markle and Prince Harry have made it clear they will still support the Queen and stay committed to certain royal duties. On their website, they said they will keep their current U.K. residence of Frogmore Cottage when they are in England — with the permission of the Queen.
While unclear, it is perceived that when the Duke and Duchess are performing royal duties, associated security expenses will be covered by British taxpayers. There are also questions as to whether there will be costs to Canadian taxpayers if they do, in fact, spend half their time here.
It is also important to note that Markle and Prince Harry’s statement does not mention them losing their royal titles. It also does not say Prince Harry will lose his spot in line to the throne.
The couple’s child, Archie, does not have an official royal title, as far as the public knows.
Paying for a royal wardrobe
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Previously speaking with Global News, royal expert Victoria Arbiter said Prince Charles, Markle’s father-in-law, typically paid for her wardrobe.
It is unclear if Markle and Harry will get a wardrobe allowance from Prince Charles any longer.
— With files from Global News’ Meaghan Wray, Meghan Collie