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Prince Harry will mark his 36th birthday on September 15 following an extraordinary 12 months. This time last year Harry, Meghan Markle and their son Archie Harrison, one, were about to embark on their first royal tour as a family in Southern Africa. During the tour, which was deemed to be a PR win, the couple opened up about struggling in the limelight and for the first time seemed to hint they might one day choose to leave royal life behind entirely.
One year on and not only have the couple relinquished their royal roles but they have relocated to the USA and landed a mega deal with streaming giant Netflix.
Meghan and Harry are now based Santa Barbara, California with their son Archie where they own a mansion in the upscale neighbourhood of Montecito.
Less than a year since announcing their royal step down the couple have achieved their key goal of gaining financial independence from the crown.
They have also honoured their promise to pay back the £2.4 million British taxpayer’s money spent on renovating their Windsor home Frogmore Cottage.
Commenting on the Sussexes’ recent successes royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Express.co.uk: “The fact that Harry and Meghan received £2.4 million from the Sovereign Grant to refurbish Frogmore Cottage was always seen as a sign that they owed something to the British taxpayer.
“Hence the intensity of criticism over their decision to have a private christening and not reveal the names of Archie’s godparents.
“The Sussexes made decisions regarding their privacy which appeared arbitrary, even if the original expectations about them acting with the Cambridges as ‘the Fab Four’ were wholly unrealistic.
“It would be a mistake to think that paying this off will have any bearing at all on the level of public interest that they will continue to attract and that will be reflected in the obsessive press fascination which accompanies everything they do.”
Mr Fitzwilliams highlight a key win for Meghan and Harry will have been that they no longer need to depend on Harry’s father Prince Charles for financial support.
The expert added: “However, although the money has been paid from their private funds, it is also highly significant that they will not be receiving further financial support from Prince Charles.
“Their highly remunerative deal with Netflix will, at a stroke, make them financially independent which was always their aim.
“For Harry and Meghan, this represents an opportunity to make documentaries and feature films and children’s programmes which is also a chance to campaign for the causes they believe in such as diversity, gender equality, the environment and mental health.”
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According to Mr Fitzwilliams, Harry’s upcoming birthday will be a huge cause for celebration in more ways than one.
He said: “Harry’s 36th birthday is on Tuesday and this deal and the freedom it brings, has given him and Meghan a very great deal to celebrate.”
While the precise sum of the couple’s Netflix deal has not been disclosed it is estimated to be worth up to £75 million.
The family have been based in the USA since March and are expected to remain there for the foreseeable future as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts international travel.
Meghan and Harry’s decision to hold on to Frogmore Cottage despite being based in the US suggests they plan to return at some point.
Harry is due in the Hague for the Invictus Games next March and may choose to visit the UK for a stint afterwards.
A new statue of Harry’s late mother Princess Diana is to be unveiled in the gardens at Kensington Palace next July.
Given Harry’s involvement in the project and his enduring love for his mother, he is expected to be there for the unveiling on July 1 2021.
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