By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(LONDON) — Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will not return as working members of Britain’s royal family, Buckingham Palace confirmed Friday.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family,” the palace said in a statement.
Harry and Meghan shocked the world last January with their announcement that they planned to step down as senior, working royals and spend the majority of their time outside of the United Kingdom.
When their new arrangement with the royal family was announced in January — after negotiations between Harry, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Prince William — it was intended to be reviewed in one year’s time.
With this new announcement, Harry and Meghan, who recently announced they are expecting their second child, have confirmed a permanent split from their roles with Harry’s family.
In their new roles outside the royal family, Harry and Meghan will no longer hold their royal patronages and Harry, who served in the British Army, will no longer hold his military appointments, according to Buckingham Palace.
“Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family.”
The appointments and patronages that Harry and Meghan are losing include The Royal Marines, RAF Honington, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving, the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Football League, the Royal National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan also issued a statement, saying the couple “offers their continued support” of the organizations they will no longer formally represent.
“As evidenced by their work over the past year, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
Harry had been named Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by the queen in 2018. The next year, Meghan was named vice president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, where she worked alongside Harry to support and connect young leaders.
Meghan notably took over the roles as patron of the National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities from Queen Elizabeth, which was seen at the time as an endorsement of Meghan as she started her life as member of the royal family.
Harry and Meghan, who now live in California, will remain financially independent. The couple paid back in September the $3 million in British taxpayers’ money that was used to refurbish Frogmore Cottage, their U.K. residence.
Since stepping back as working royals last year, Harry and Meghan have carved out a voice for themselves that they would not have been able to have as working royals. In September they urged Americans to get out and vote while making their first joint television appearance since moving to the U.S.
They also made their moves in Hollywood, inking a multi-year deal with Spotify to produce and host podcasts and a deal with Netflix to produce films and series.
The Sussexes also launched their new organization, Archewell, that will oversee their nonprofit work as well as their audio and production ventures.
Harry and Meghan have not, to the public’s knowledge, returned to the U.K. since early March, when they attended their last official engagement as working royals.
The couple plans to break their silence next month in a 90-minute primetime special with Oprah Winfrey, who was a guest at their 2018 wedding.
Harry and Meghan’s interview with Winfrey, set to air March 7, will be the first they have done since leaving the U.K. last year.
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