The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Decide to ‘Take a Step Back’ From Royal Duties

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On Wednesday evening, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex initiated a statement noting their decision to “take a step back” from their duties as ‘senior’ members of the institutional structure of the Royal Family.

Within the statement, they also announced that they will work to become financially self-sufficient and inferred their intentions to spend more time in North America.

The Royals convey that this decision to transition their commitments in the UK was not spontaneous, and concluded after much deliberation before seeing it fit to focus more of their time on their charitable endeavours while raising their son.

According to Royal Correspondent for BBC News, Jonny Dymond, there has only been one other time that a royal has done something of similar extents.

Known as Edward VIII abdication crisis, it was 1936 when the then King-Emperor had intended to marry Wallis Simpson, who had already been divorced once and was seeking to divorce her second husband.

This was heavily condemned by the government as it raised religious, legal, political and moral challenges and criticisms, especially as the Church of England did not allow divorcees to re-wed in the church while an ex-spouse is still alive.

Despite much disapproval, Edward proclaimed his love for Simpson and signed his written notice to officiate his resignation from his duty as King.

Although this is not entirely the same situation as Harry and Meghan, technically, have not resigned and Prince Harry is not a King and very unlikely to become one, it is still an incredibly unforeseen announcement to make.

Another statement announced their untypical plan to change the way they deal with the media, which did not come as a surprise as it was only last October that Meghan and Harry had expressed their contempt with the way both, but especially Meghan, have been treated by the British press, as well as the pronouncement that they were suing certain media outlets.

RECAP: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex vs. The Media

In October 2019, it was announced that The Duchess of Sussex was taking legal action against British tabloid newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, for what she declared as ‘unlawfully’ publishing a private letter that she had sent to her father.

The claim was filed over the ‘misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018', according to the media information on

It is alleged that the newspaper company had strategically modified the letter, which was provided to them by her estranged parent, Thomas Markle, with intent to ‘defend’ himself of mischaracterisations.

Mr. Markle, who stated that he vowed to keep the handwritten five-page letter private, of which he did for six months, told the press: “When I opened the letter I was hoping it was the olive branch I’d longed for. I was expecting something that would be a pathway to reconciliation.

“There was no loving message in there, nothing asking about my health, nothing from her saying ‘Let’s get together to heal our differences.’”

Mr. Markle claimed that he was provoked by an anonymous close confidant of Meghan’s who had described the contents of the letter in People magazine with contrary perceptions, deeming it loving and an effort to reduce hostility.

Despite Meghan’s father justifying his means of retaliation, Meghan and Harry opposed that view.

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While Prince Harry is conscious of the interest the public has of the royals’ private lives and has tried to be ‘thick-skinned’ about the amount of attention that they receive from the media, he deduces that their behaviour has gone beyond acceptable limits.

Harry justified this legal battle, voicing his opinion and anxiety that his wife is being victimised by the press and of ‘history repeating itself’, referring to his late mother’s treatment by tabloid news outlets.

A statement by Harry read: “There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives.

“Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.

“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.

“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

Such statements from Harry have been met with varying responses, including those furthering his impression of the media by the media.

Jonny Dymond, BBC’s Royal Correspondent, spoke on the Beyond Today podcast: “He can’t bear the media. He blames them for his mother’s death. He blames them for the end of a couple of previous relationships, he hates the way they treated Meghan.

“All the time when he is doing public events, he is looking over his shoulder and seeing the cameramen and people like me with notebooks and recorders and he hates us.

“It is painfully obvious.”

Yet, others question whether Meghan’s reprisal is even worth it.

An article published in the Guardian by Patrick Jephson describes the uncertain nature of the royals’ conflict with the media, with emphasis on the struggles he witnessed during his time as the late Princess Diana’s private secretary.

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Jephson, the author of ‘Shadows of a Princess’, noted his impartial observation of the difference between whether The Duke of Sussex’s unprecedented legal battle against the tabloid media is either ‘a stroke of genius’ or ‘a risky overstretch’.

He said: “We must assume they’ve calculated that the cost of doing nothing is higher than the price of whatever this is. If not, now’s the time to ask themselves what that price might be.” Wrote Jephson, recounting the 1993 legal battle between former Princess of Wales and Mirror Group Newspapers, wherein she had sued the national news publisher for duplicitously acquiring and publishing photographs of her while exercising at the gym.

“Eventually, with the Princess of Wales, our legal champions reached a settlement, but by then it was all rather deflating.

“It didn’t feel like a victory parade and, funnily enough, next day the familiar faces of the press pack wore expressions that were everything except contrite.”

Princess Diana, also named The People’s Princess, and additionally juxtaposed plainly and ironically by her younger brother, Charles Spencer, as “a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.”

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In 2017, David Barnett, a writer and journalist, wrote, “There was an obsession with Diana, her every move was checked and documented and filed. The tabloids led on the most spurious stories for days on end. For a newspaper editor, those must have been the glory days.”

During the initial stages of Meghan and Harry’s relationship, a number of articles that were suspected by Kensington Palace to have “racial undertones” were distributed.

Though Meghan had been warned by her British friends of the potential for the British tabloids to ‘ruin her life’ and Harry’s awareness of the press’ inevitable involvement in their lives, the two made it obvious that this level of torment was unexpected.

In October 2019, just after both of their declarations to sue press organisations, Meghan was interviewed by ITV, where she spoke very openly about her struggles and challenges. In the video, which went viral, an empathetic eye could clearly see her emotional reaction, as if holding back tears, when asked, so simply, if she was okay and how she was coping.

Originally published at on January 8, 2020.

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