Meghan Markle and Prince Harry: A timeline of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's royal journey so far
15 January 2020, 17:08
As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's announcement rocks the world, we take a look at their time as royals.
This week has been a turbulent one for the royal family after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced they were stepping down from 'senior' royals and were working towards becoming financially independent.
The announcement shocked people around the world, as they started to question why they did it, how they'll do it, and what this means for the royal family.
As the media circus continues, we take a look at Meghan and Harry's royal journey so far:
November 2016: Meghan and Harry go public
After months of rumours, reports and speculation, Harry and Meghan finally went public with their romance in November 2016.
However, the exciting announcement quickly soured after Harry condemned the British press' treatment of his girlfriend in a statement.
In the statement, Harry said that a "line had been crossed" and that Meghan has been "subject to to a wave of abuse and harassment".
Harry condemned the "racial undertones" of comment articles, and "outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and webs article comments".
October 2017: Meghan speaks to Vanity Fair about relationship
Meghan Markle appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in October 2017 where she spoke for the first time publicly about her romance with Harry.
Speaking of dating someone in the royal family, Meghan said: "It has its challenges, and it comes in waves—some days it can feel more challenging than others."
November 2017: Meghan and Harry get engaged
The couple soon after announced their engagement, posing for an official photo-call with the press at Kensington Palace.
Harry and Meghan then sat for an interview with BBC where they spoke about their engagement, their relationship and future plans.
Harry proposed to Meghan during a quiet night in with a custom made ring made with diamonds from Princess Diana's jewellery collection.
May 2018: Meghan and Harry marry
In May, the royal wedding came around, and people across the UK celebrated the union of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The pair wed at Windsor Castle, with the bride wearing a Givenchy gown for her big day.
October 2018: Meghan and Harry announce they're pregnant
Five months after their wedding, Harry and Meghan announced they were pregnant with their first baby.
This announcement came just before they took off on their first royal tour together, of Australia.
February 2019: Meghan's letter to dad leaked
Meghan's already troubled relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, went from bad to worse in February 2019 when he leaked a letter from his daughter to the press.
In the highly personal letter, the Duchess told her father "your actions have broken my heart", before writing: "If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop. Please allow us to live our lives in peace."
May 2019: Archie is born
Meghan and Harry welcomed baby Archie on 6th May 2019.
Following the birth, the couple stepped out to introduce Archie to the world with an official photocall with the press.
August 2019: Meghan and Harry slammed for private jet use
After months of campaigning to save the planet from global warming, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were slammed as "hypocrites" for their use of private jets.
Harry later responded to the backlash, saying: "I spend 99% of my life travelling the world by commercial.
“Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe.”
September 2019: Meghan and Harry head on tour of South Africa, with baby Archie making an appearance
Meghan and Harry's tour of South Africa went off without a hitch, and royal fans were delighted when Harry and Meghan took their son, Archie, out for one engagement in during the trip.
October 2019: Meghan and Harry speak out in ITV documentary
In a documentary aired on ITV, Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex gave raw and emotional interviews on dealing with the press.
In one conversation with journalist and friend Tom Bradby, Meghan said she "struggled" to deal with the negative press while pregnant.
She told him: "It’s hard, I don’t think anyone can understand that. But in fairness I had no idea – which probably sounds difficult to understand here.
“But when I first met my now husband, my friends were happy because I was so happy, 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’.
“And I very naively – I’m American, we don’t have that – said ‘what are you talking about?’ It doesn’t make any sense. I didn’t get it. So, yeah, it’s been complicated.”
October 2019: Meghan Markle announces plans to sue the Mail on Sunday
The Duchess of Sussex soon after announced her plans to take legal action against the Mail on Sunday, claiming they "unlawfully" published a private letter of hers to her dad.
A spokesman for the newspaper said: "The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously. Specifically, we categorically deny that the duchess's letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning."
November 2019: Couple announce Christmas break away from royal family
Following a turbulent few months, Meghan and Harry spent the Christmas break in Canada with the Duchess' friends and mother, Doria.
The previous year, Meghan and Harry spent Christmas at Sandringham with the rest of his family.
January 2020: Harry and Meghan announce they're stepping back as 'senior' royals
Only a day after returning to royal duties, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their plans to step down as 'senior' royals.
In a statement, they wrote: "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. 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.
"It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. 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.
"We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support."
January 2020: Crisis talks at Sandringham and The Queen says she's "entirely supportive" of Harry and Meghan
After Meghan and Harry made their announcement, a summit was held at Sandringham including the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry.
Meghan was not in attendance as she had flown back to Canada to be with son Archie.
Following the meeting, the Queen released a statement with further information, telling the public that while she would have liked for the couple to have stayed as full-time royals, she "entirely supports" them.
The full statement read: "Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.
"Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family. Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.
"It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK. These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days."