Prince Harry, Meghan sign up to exit deal; give up royal titles
London: Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have signed up to a formal exit deal from the royal family, which will see them forsake their His and Her Royal Highness (HRH) titles and will no longer receive UK taxpayers' funding for their duties.
The deal, which comes into effect by spring in a few weeks' time, means the couple will no longer be representing the Queen in an official capacity.
"The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the royal family," Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Saturday night.
Queen Elizabeth II said the agreement followed months of discussions and was a "constructive and supportive" way forward for her grandson and his family.
"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family," the 93-year-old monarch's personal statement read.
"I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life," she says, thanking the couple for their work for UK and across the Commonwealth.
In a special message for Markle, she said: "I am... particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family. It is my whole family's hope that today's agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life".
The palace confirmed that the couple were required to withdraw from royal duties, including official military appointments.
"While they can no longer formally represent the Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty," the palace said.
It added that the pair would continue to maintain their private patronages and associations.
The couple intend to repay 2.4 million pounds of UK taxpayer money for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home as they split their time between Britain and Canada.
The palace has declined to comment on security arrangements and who would foot that bill for the couple in future, an issue that has been at the centre of much of the debate since they announced their decision to step back as senior royals earlier this month.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, issued their own update on their official Sussex Royal website, which has been updated to remove references to the HRH titles on the opening page.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.
"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," the statement on their website reads.
Meghan is already in Canada with the couple's eight-month-old son Archie and some reports indicate she may fly back briefly for some pending royal engagements until the new agreement formally kicks in on an unspecified date in spring which begins towards the end of March in the UK.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry will continue to perform royal duties until that time, which includes at a summit for African leaders in London on Monday.
He will eventually step back permanently, giving up his military roles as Captain General of the Royal Marines (a post passed to him by the Duke of Edinburgh), Honorary Air Commandant at RAF Honiton, and Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving.
Under what is being dubbed as a "hard Megxit", the couple will also lose their relatively new roles as Youth Ambassadors of the Commonwealth.
However, as part of keeping their private patronages, they are expected to remain President and Vice President of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.
"As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for royal duties," the palace statement specifies.
This gives the couple the financial independence they had sought and means they no longer have access to a share of the UK's taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant the 82.2-million pounds that the royal family receives from the UK Treasury each year.
According to some reports, the couple will continue to receive an undisclosed sum of "private financial support" from Harry's father Prince Charles.
There are still some question marks over the couple's future status, including what their tax and immigration status will be in the UK and Canada.
It is unclear whether former American actress Markle still intends to gain British citizenship, which she had initiated when she got engaged to Harry in November 2017 and would require her to spend a certain amount of time in the UK.
While the couple intend to divide their time between the UK and Canada, it is expected that they will spend the majority of their time in Canada rather than the UK.