ENTERTAINMENT
01/04/2020 11:50 AM AEDT | Updated 01/04/2020 11:53 AM AEDT

Meghan Markle And Prince Harry's Royal Exit Is Complete

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said goodbye -- for now -- to their followers ahead of their official March 31 exit from the monarchy.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry officially stepped back from their royal duties on Tuesday, the day they had agreed to complete their transition from working members of the monarchy. 

This means that as of March 31, the couple are free to pursue financial independence and split their time between the UK and North America ― or wherever else they choose. They will begin paying rent on their home in Britain, Frogmore Cottage. They will retain their patronages, but will no longer represent the queen, as was their stated preference.

While Tuesday marks their official departure, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex completed a goodbye tour of sorts earlier this month in the UK. The couple dazzled crowds with their return to the country and nailed a photo-op so perfect it seemed straight out of Hollywood (and perhaps foreshadowed their return to LA). 

Samir Hussein via Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend the Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House on March 5 in London.

Harry said in January “there was no other option” than for the couple to leave the royal family. In the less than two years since the couple’s wedding, Harry and Meghan repeatedly expressed dismay at the attention and harassment wielded by Britain’s tabloids.

In the weeks since their departure from the continent, Harry and Meghan moved from their temporary home on Vancouver Island and have settled in Los Angeles, Meghan’s hometown. Her mother, Doria Ragland, still lives in the city. 

On Monday, the duke and duchess announced plans to shutter their Sussex Royal Instagram account and website of the same name, while acknowledging that at the moment the world was in an “extraordinarily fragile” place.

“As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute,” the two said in a joint Instagram post. “While you may not see us here, the work continues.” 

“Thank you to this community - for the support, the inspiration and the shared commitment to the good in the world,” they added. “We look forward to reconnecting with you soon. You’ve been great!” 

The Instagram account and website will continue to exist for now, but they won’t be updated and comments on all Instagram posts have been shut off. The change was not entirely unexpected, as the couple said in February that they wouldn’t use “royal” or “SussexRoyal” in their future branding. 

The couple signed that post “Harry and Meghan,” hinting at how they’ll be addressed after their royal exit. (The prince insisted that attendees at an event in February call him just “Harry.”)

The couple still retain their Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Their Royal Highness titles, though they will stop using the latter. 

Still to come are details about the couple’s new nonprofit organisation. A spokesperson previously said the focus will be on the couple’s core issues: “the Commonwealth, community, youth empowerment and mental health, collectively.” 

Disney confirmed Meghan’s first post-royal project: a voiceover role for its documentary “Elephant,” which will stream on Disney Plus April 3. 

But for now, the Sussexes want people to focus on the most threatening issue at hand ― the coronavirus pandemic ― while they step away from the spotlight for a few months to be with family. 

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex would prefer that in the immediate weeks and months, the focus remains on the global response to COVID-19,” a spokesperson for the couple said Monday in a statement released by Buckingham Palace. 

The spokesperson added that the couple “will spend the next few months focusing on their family and continuing to do what they can, safely and privately, to support and work with their pre-existing charitable commitments while developing their future non-profit organisation.” 

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