Meghan Markle and Prince Harry: What has changed two years on from bombshell announcement

Prince Harry's memoir threatens to rock Royal Family

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In a statement shared on their Instagram page, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and become financially independent, while continuing to support Her Majesty the Queen.” The move was met with a mixed response by royal watchers, while it also caused a rift between the Sussexes and other members of the Royal Family.  In their statement Harry and Meghan also announced that they would split their time between the UK and North America, and planned to focus on new charitable ventures.

The statement continued: “This geographical 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.”

Since the unprecedented split from the Firm, Harry and Meghan have remained very much in the public eye. 

The couple officially began their new lives at the end of March 2020, having returned briefly to the UK to undertake a final round of royal engagements.

At first, the Sussexes resided on Vancouver Island in Canada, where they had enjoyed a quiet Christmas 2019 away from the spotlight.

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Then, they moved to the US, staying in their friend Tyler Perry’s LA mansion for a time, before buying their own home in Montecito.

Recent reports suggest that the Sussexes are already planning to sell their new home, however.

Meanwhile, the couple paid back the £2.4million they took from the taxpayer to renovate their Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage.

As promised upon leaving the Firm, Harry and Meghan launched their non-profit Archewell in April 2020, which aims to “build a better world, one act of compassion at a time.”

The Sussexes have long been committed to charity, having reportedly asked for charitable donations instead of wedding gifts in 2018, while they were seen wearing masks delivering food to LA residents in need during the pandemic.

However, according to tax filings seen by the Daily Mail, Archewell raised less than $50,000 (£36,947) in 2020.

According to the newspaper, the Sussexes lawyers said Archewell did not open its bank account until January 2021, and received its first deposit a month later.

Months after relocating the Sussexes also inked a deal with streaming giant Netflix believed to be worth £112million to make documentaries, children’s programmes, scripted shows and feature films.

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Their first project is a series called ‘Heart of Invictus’ which will follow wounded soldiers competing in Harry’s Paralympic-style competition the Invictus Games.

The second project is called ‘Pearl’ and is an animated children’s programme the Duchess is creating with Sir Elton John’s husband David Furnish.

Harry and Meghan also signed a separate deal with Spotify podcasts in December 2020, believed to be worth £18million.

Despite promising a range of content, they have only produced one podcast to date, over a year ago.

Last year saw the Sussexes open up about their experiences as royals in a number of high profile interviews, which widened the rift between the Sussexes and the Firm.

In March, Harry and Meghan caused a stir after giving a 2 hour CBS interview to Oprah Winfrey, in which they made a number of claims against the Royal Family. 

Meghan alleged she had been suffering with severe mental health problems while a member of the Firm, and that she was not adequately supported.

Meanwhile, the pair also claimed that an unnamed senior royal had raised concern “about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be.”

In a subsequent interview between Harry and Oprah on AppleTV+’s The Me You Can’t See, the Duke of Sussex also challenged his father Prince Charles’ parenting. 

Harry has only seen members of his family twice since quitting the Royal Family, for his grandfather’s Prince Philip’s funeral in April last year and to unveil a statue of his late-mother Princess Diana three months later.

On June 6, Harry and Meghan announced that their daughter Lilibet was born at the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex named their daughter after the Queen, whose family nickname is Lilibet. 

The child has not yet met her great-grandmother, despite speculation at the end of last year as to whether Lilibet would return to the UK to be christened in the chapel at Windsor Castle. 

The same month Lilibet was born, Meghan’s debut children’s book ‘The Bench’, inspired by a Father’s Day poem she wrote for Harry, was released.

Then in July the couple announced a four-year book deal with Penguin Random House, reportedly worth £29 million, with Meghan writing a “wellness guide” and Harry promising a tell-all autobiography to be released later this year.

Members of the Firm are reportedly worried that Harry may make more claims against the Royal Family in the book. 

In December, Meghan won the latest stage in her trial against Associated Newspapers after it published part of a 2018 letter to her father Thomas Markle.

The Court of Appeal rejected Associated Newspapers’ attempt to bring the privacy and copyright case to trial.

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