When and why did Meghan and Harry step down from the Royal Family?

7 March 2021, 20:00

Meghan and Harry announced their decision to step down as senior members of the Royal Family last year.

Meghan and Harry's explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey will soon be airing in the UK, with the couple expected to discuss their departure from the UK.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they would be stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family on 8 January 2020.

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The couple have since moved to Los Angeles, where they live with their son Archie, who is almost two.

On 19 February 2021, the Queen confirmed that they would lose their royal titles and not return as working members of the Royal Family.

Here's your need-to-know.

When did Harry and Meghan step down from the Royal Family?

They first announced their decision to step down on 8 January 2020.

In a statement posted to their Instagram page, writing: "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.

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"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."

Harry and Meghan stepped down as senior members of the Royal Family last year
Harry and Meghan stepped down as senior members of the Royal Family last year. Picture: PA

What did The Queen's statement say?

The Queen released a statement confirming that they wouldn't be returning as working members of the Royal Family last month.

The statement read: "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.

"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.

"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.

"While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family."

Meghan and Harry also released a statement, which said: "As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role."

They added: "We can all live a life of service. Service is universal."

Harry and Meghan live in LA with their son Archie
Harry and Meghan live in LA with their son Archie. Picture: PA

Why did Harry and Meghan leave the UK?

Prince Harry recently said he decided to step back from royal duties to protect himself and his family from the 'toxic' situation created by the press in the UK.

Speaking to James Corden on The Late Late Show, he said that it was "destroying my mental health" and he "did what any husband [or] father would do".

He added: "I will always be contributing, but my life is public service, so wherever I am in the world, it's going to be the same thing."

And in a clip from the upcoming Oprah interview, Prince Harry referenced his mother Princess Diana's death, saying: "My biggest fear is that history would repeat itself".

Holding hands with his wife, he added: "For me, I'm just really relieved and happy to be sitting here, talking to you with my wife by my side."

As an image of Harry's mother Diana, who died in a car accident aged 36 while being pursued by the paparazzi, was shown, Harry then continues: "Because I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for her going through this process by herself all those years ago because it has been unbelievably tough for the two of us but at least we had each other."

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