Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, announced plans to “step back” from their roles as senior members of the British royal family on Wednesday. But is it possible they hinted at their plans back in October?
On Wednesday, the pair posted on Instagram they plan to divide their time between North America and the United Kingdom, while still honoring the queen and their 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 couple said in a statement posted to Instagram.
The announcement came amid intense ongoing media scrutiny of the royal pair. In October, Meghan revealed in an emotional interview with London’s ITV News that all the negative press has weighed on her since becoming a mother.
"Not many people have asked if I’m OK ... it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” she said.
In a clip ITV aired Wednesday from that October interview, the couple indicated they had been thinking about their next steps even then.
“It’s not enough to just survive something, right? Like, that’s not the point of life,” the duchess said. “You’ve gotta thrive, you’ve gotta feel happy.”
Wednesday’s announcement came after the duke and duchess spent their Christmas holiday in Canada, instead of joining the rest of the family with Queen Elizabeth II at the Sandringham estate in England.
They’ve distanced themselves from the royal family in other ways in the past year as well. In March, the royal couple announced they would move out of Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate. Later, they split from the charity they shared with Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, to form their own foundation.
Following the Harry and Meghan's extraordinary announcement, there were reports the queen was not fully aware of their plans.
“It would appear tonight’s statement from the Sussexes was made *without* the blessing of The Queen. (Which is kind of a big deal),” Chris Ship, the royal editor for ITV, tweeted.
Ship reported the other members of the royal family hadn’t been aware of Harry and Meghan’s plan, and it had only been known as an “idea” for a few days.
Buckingham Palace released a two-line statement Wednesday evening.
"Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage," the palace said. "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."