Meghan and Harry are transitioning into their new life after giving up their royal responsibilities. And it's left many people wondering: Did the former actress ever really want to be a member of the Royal Family?
Meghan and Harry's Reign
From the moment Meghan Markle joined the Royal Family, she's done things her way; Marching to the beat of her own drum within a strict society. Not once did she put her own beliefs aside to conform to Royal ways.
Many people viewed this as a red flag. But evidently, Harry respected her efforts to remain a strong, empowering woman - even if it clashed with longstanding Royal traditions. Meghan and Harry have officially made their Royal exit, but were there signs that Meghan wanted to leave the British monarchy all along?
An Actress Walks Into the Palace
In 2016, rumors first surfaced that Prince Harry was involved with an actress: Meghan Markle, famous for her role in Suits. They were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend, and according to Markle, she went in with zero expectations. "I didn't know much about him," she recalled.
But right away, Meghan knew that Harry was indeed her Prince charming. The two couldn't be kept apart. They announced their relationship in November of 2016, and immediately, the public had strong opinions. Harry revealed that there was a "wave of abuse and harassment" being directed at Meghan.
Planned the Wedding in an Unlucky Month
But the scrutiny didn't seem to bother Meghan. The only thing she could think about was her blossoming relationship. A year later, they announced their engagement, and the couple seemed to be head over heels for each other. However, some saw a few red flags about Markle joining the Royal Family from the start.
When the couple revealed that they'd be getting married in the month of May, members of the Royal Family were in disbelief. Why? There's some superstition that it's unlucky for Royals to marry in May. However, this didn't matter to Meghan as she continued marching to the beat of her own drum.
She Broke Royal Protocol Immediately
At Meghan and Harry's engagement photocall, the first thing that many people noticed was Meghan's wardrobe. She had refrained from wearing stockings under her dress. "You never see a Royal without their nude stockings," said Royal expert Victoria Arbiter. "It doesn't look like she was wearing tights or stockings."
You might have noticed that Kate Middleton typically wears her hair in a sleek updo, but this simply wasn't Meghan's style; Many photographs show Markle with her hair in a loose bun, with strands hanging out. These might seem like minor details, but for a future Royal? Choices like this can make or break their reputation.
Royal Rules Were Broken
Also, Meghan was frequently spotted wearing clothing that had practically never been seen on a Royal before. For example, she'd been photographed wearing ripped jeans, short skirts, and even dresses with slits up the side. But even as the wedding date got closer, Markle continued wearing what she pleased.
When it comes to PDA, Royal couples typically refrain from showing affection in public. As for Meghan and Harry? Well, as soon as Meghan entered Harry's life, it seemed she couldn't keep her hands off him, even at formal events. Could these have been signs that Markle never intended to be a fully-committed member of the Royal Family?
Their Nontraditional Wedding
When it came to planning her wedding, nothing could get in the way of Meghan's vision coming to life - not even long-standing Royal traditions. According to Royal biographer Katie Nicholl, Meghan and Harry's wedding was a "turning point for the monarchy," starting with the bridal party.
Not all wedding party members were of Royal descent, which broke tradition; But that wasn't all. "Complete with a gospel choir and an African American bishop, the ceremony was a departure from tradition and captured the imagination of the world," Nicholl added.
Meghan Hugged a Young Fan
When attending public events, it's customary for Royals to embrace attendees with a handshake or a wave, nothing more. However, Meghan was never one to adapt to such policies. On International Women's Day in 2018, she and Harry attended an event that was meant to encourage young women to pursue their dreams.
A 10-year-old girl told Harry that she dreamed of becoming an actress. Immediately, he introduced her to Meghan. Despite breaching Royal protocol, Meghan didn't hesitate to give the fan a hug. She wanted to make this girl feel special, and she certainly did. "It was a dream come true," said the girl.
Harry's Views on the Royal Family
During a 2017 interview with Newsweek magazine, Meghan's partner might've hinted that he and his bride didn't plan to remain active members of the Royal Family forever. "We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people," Harry revealed.
"Is there any one of the Royal Family who wants to be King or Queen?" he continued. "I don't think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time." Did Harry harbor resentment towards the British monarchy? Or perhaps could Meghan have impacted his beliefs?
They Didn't Follow Royal Baby Protocol
In May of 2019, Meghan and Harry proudly welcomed their son Archie into the world. However, they did not follow the Royal baby protocol. For starters, they kept the location of the birth a secret. Then, they waited a few days before sharing photos of Archie and a formal statement with the world - unlike past Royal births.
Months later, Harry met with Jane Goodall and spoke about baby Archie. "At the end [of the conversation], Meghan came in to listen with Archie," said Goodall. Meghan got Archie to "do the Queen's wave," and Goodall said, "I suppose he'll have to learn this." According to Goodall, Harry replied, "No, he's not growing up like this."
Archie Didn't Receive a Royal Title
But that wasn't the only tradition Meghan's child would break; She and Harry chose not to give Archie a Royal title. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wanted their son to be as normal as possible, to begin with, hence no use of the title Earl of Dumbarton," explained Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams.
It was clear that Meghan envisioned a normal life for her child, but had Harry pictured the same? After essentially declaring that their son would not grow up to be a Royal, people were full of questions: What other traditions would the Duke and Duchess possibly break in the future?
Leaving William and Kate's Royal Foundation
In June of 2019, Meghan and Harry split from the charity that they shared with William and Kate. "The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex has today announced the conclusions of a review into its structure," as said in an official statement.
Many people assumed that there was tension between the couples, leading Meghan and Harry to go their own way. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will establish their own new charitable foundation with transitional operating support from The Royal Foundation," Kensington Palace reported.
Doing Their Own Work
After their official resignation from the Royal Foundation, Meghan and Harry created their own charity called Archewell, after their first-born son. According to the couple's spokesperson, they'd envisioned starting this organization for years. They wanted to do something meaningful on their own terms.
Meghan had also been an advocate for women's rights for a while. She never hesitated to hold back her beliefs on controversial matters. She was even badmouthed by the British press for this in 2019. But she simply didn't care what any tabloids had to say; Meghan evidently will not put her beliefs aside for anyone.
Meghan Caused Tension Between William and Harry
From the start, there was suspicion that William wasn't supportive of Harry marrying Meghan. After all, Kate Middleton appeared to be a perfect addition to the Royal Family. And contrarily, his brother was about to say "I do" to a Hollywood actress. According to Katie Nicholl, William had his concerns.
"William was quite concerned that the relationship had moved so quickly," Nicholl explained. Supposedly, William was looking out for Harry's best interest. Unfortunately, Harry interpreted his concern over Meghan as criticism. "He interpreted that as his brother not really being behind this marriage," Nicholl added.
Their Royal Rift
Did William's doubt cause a "Royal Rift" between the brothers? According to Katie Nicholl, "I don't think things have been right ever since" William questioned Harry's relationship. Is it possible that the Queen was in agreement with William? Were other Royal Family members predicting something drastic to happen?
Evidently, tensions only increased within the family as William continued tending to his Royal duties. Harry eventually explored an entirely new lifestyle with his bride. Would Meghan and Harry's future decisions put an even bigger strain on the family dynamic?
Their Telling Documentary
When Meghan and Harry embarked on their six-week trip to Africa in September of 2019, journalist Tom Bradby tagged along to document the couple's meaningful work. However, Bradby proposed an idea to the couple; "I think it would look weird if I come along and I don't ask you anything about how it's really going."
Meghan and Harry agreed; This was rather unusual for a Royal couple, as personal matters are often kept private. "Even when I was there, I could sort of see going through their heads the question of whether to answer honestly, and how honestly," said Bradby. And in the end, they opened up, making for a controversial documentary.
The Truth Comes Out
The documentary, titled Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, featured many honest statements from the Duke and Duchess. "I think the truth is there is a lot going on, a lot going on within the Royal Family," Bradby later shared. "I don't think they know what their future is going to be and what their position is going to be."
"The reality I found was just a couple that seemed a bit bruised and vulnerable," Bradby continued. "If this documentary has an outcome, I do hope that it's that everyone, perhaps including them, takes a really deep breath and maybe thinks really hard about how the future may play out."
Her Struggles With Royal Life
In the documentary, Markle told Tom Bradby that Royal life, especially with the media, got more challenging after Archie's birth. "Look, any woman, especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable. And so that was made really challenging. And then when you have a newborn, you know?" she shared.
"Especially as a woman, it's really - a lot. So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed," she continued. Meghan also explained that "not many people have asked if I'm OK." Bradby then asked if she's "not really OK," and Markle confirmed that she was indeed struggling as Duchess.
Meghan Was Warned Not To Marry a Royal
Meghan's struggles with motherhood and the British monarchy weren't all that she discussed with Bradby; She also revealed that her friends had warned her not to marry into the Royal Family. "When I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy," Meghan shared.
"But my British friends said to me, 'I'm sure he's great, but you shouldn't do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life.'" Evidently, though, Meghan was drawn to Harry anyway. But she eventually learned that her friends might've been onto something.
Taking Time Off
After countless unexpected events, Meghan and Harry shocked many by a decision they made in October of 2019. "The Duke and Duchess have a full schedule of engagements and commitments until mid-November, after which they will be taking some much-needed family time," a Royal Statement revealed.
Of course, the Duke and Duchess wanted to spend more quality time with their newborn son. But taking time off from their Royal duties was practically unheard of. Was this something Meghan and Harry had been considering for a while, or was it a sudden decision? But the surprises didn't end there.
Stepping Back From the Family
In January of 2020, Meghan and Harry did the unthinkable; They announced their official step back from the Royal Family. "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," the couple revealed.
"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." But that wasn't all; The Duke and Duchess were preparing to relocate as well to live a more normal life.
The Split Time Between U.K. and Canada
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages," the couple shared. Meghan and Harry explained that it was in their family's best interest to spend time outside of the U.K., so they headed to Canada.
"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." Many wondered, was this Meghan's plan all along?
The Sandringham Summit Statement
January 13th, 2020, marked the Sandringham Summit, also known as the day the Royal Family's key members met to discuss Meghan and Harry's future. "Today, my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family," the Queen said in a rare yet emotional statement.
After more than 90 years in the Royal Family, the Queen experienced an unthinkable divide in her family. Did she blame Meghan for pushing Harry away, or did she truly believe that the couple made this decision together? While she accepted this change, was there some resentment placed upon the Duchess?
A New Life
In March of 2020, Meghan and Harry wrapped up their final Royal engagements, excited to embark on a new adventure outside of the British monarchy. They moved to Los Angeles, Meghan's hometown, to start a new life with baby Archie. And once they settled in L.A., Meghan and Harry got straight to work, helping those in need.
The couple practically started over; They said bye to living a fast-paced life in the Royal Family, constantly surrounded by the press. Instead? They opted to live a quiet life in a suburban neighborhood with plenty of peace and quiet. So, what came next for the former Royals?
Meghan's Possible Regret
When Meghan and Harry got engaged, Meghan made the difficult decision to give up her acting career as she transitioned into life as a Royal Family member. "I just see it as a change… It's a new chapter, right?" she shared of her significant lifestyle change a few years ago.
But years later, as Meghan and Harry made their Royal exit, there was speculation that Markle had regrets. "It seems now that she really regrets having had to give that up," revealed the Queen's biographer, Bedell Smith. "And what she was expected to do in the Royal Family didn't compare to what she had been accustomed to."
They Said Bye to the Royal Rota
Part of beginning a new chapter meant changing practically every aspect of their lives - including their relationship with the media. "In the spring of 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be adopting a revised media approach to ensure diverse and open access to their work," according to sussexroyal.com.
As part of their step back, the Duke and Duchess would no longer cooperate with the Royal Rota. The Royal Rota is a system that allows Royal reporters to attend family events to then write about. It was becoming more and more clear that Meghan and Harry wanted privacy, but what did the rest of the family think about that?
Meghan's Battle With the Media
Since the day he was born, Harry had lived a life in the spotlight, with British newspapers documenting his every move. But suddenly, he had a desire to get away from all of this. At the same time, Meghan took legal action against the British tabloid Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter that she'd written to her dad.
"The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question," Harry explained. The couple filed the lawsuit a couple of years ago, and have been battling the press ever since.
Harry Defends His Wife Against the Media
In typical Royal fashion, members of the family don't usually speak out against the media. They're simply expected to live a life in the public eye. However, Meghan did not allow this, hence the lawsuit. And Harry defended her every step of the way. "We all know this isn't acceptable, at any level," he said about the case.
"There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior because it destroys people and destroys lives," Harry added. "We won't and can't believe in a world where there is no accountability for this." This brought up many questions, specifically regarding Meghan's initial expectations about Royal life.
Their Official Exit
After a timeline of Meghan and her husband's unexpected actions, they had officially given up their Royal duties by February 2021. Harry was stripped of his honorary military titles. But the couple was excited about their new life, and whatever adventures that might call for. As for the Queen?
"My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family," she shared. "While we are all saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much-loved members of the family," according to the Buckingham Palace announcement.
They Enjoy Normal Life
Over the last year, Meghan and Harry have enjoyed the extra downtime spent with Archie. It's allowed them to grow closer as a family, something that may not have been possible if they were still active Royals. "I have the best two guys in the world, so I'm really happy," Meghan shared.
Harry's also revealed how he feels about this new lifestyle, as it gives him more time to spend with Meghan and Archie. "Do I feel guilty for having so much family time?" he shared. "You've got to celebrate those moments where you are just on the floor rolling around in hysterics."
A Bright Future
There's no doubt that Meghan Markle changed many aspects of the Royal Family in ways that people had never even imagined. But if you ask her and Harry, who was once in line for the throne, how they're doing? Well, they're currently celebrating the fact that Archie is going to be a big brother!
Ever since Harry gave up his Royal responsibilities, he now has more time to focus on his family as he and Meghan get ready for baby number two. While they appear to be happier than ever, the question still remains: Had there been signs of Meghan trying to leave the Royal Family all along?