It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their bombshell announcement that they were quitting the Royal Family.
Posting on their now defunct Sussex Royal Instagram page, the couple revealed their plans to ‘step back as senior members’ of the Firm and work to become ‘financially independent’ while splitting their time between the UK and the US.
It sent shockwaves around the world, and the coining of the term ‘Megxit’ quickly followed – which became one of Collins Dictionary’s Words of the Year in 2020.
Twelve months later and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, now living in a $14 million mansion in California with their 18-month-old son Archie, have signed lucrative deals with the likes of Neflix and Spotify, and ‘don’t regret’ their decision to go it alone, according to a source.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their bombshell announcement that they were quitting the Royal Family (pictured on their final engagement in London in March 2020)
But their departure has not been without heartache, with the Queen, 94, said to be ‘personally hurt’ by the manner in which it came about, and the Royal Family’s collective disappointment at not being able to watch young Archie grow up. Their acrimonious departure has also left painfully deep scars for Prince William which those in the know claim may never be healed.
In the coming months Harry was due to meet with his grandmother for a face-to-face 12-month review of the so-called ‘Megxit deal’, however the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought a ban on non-essential travel, has scuppered those plans.
So, a year later, who are the winners and losers of Megxit? Here FEMAIL reveals the figures who have benefitted from their departure – and those who have been left behind.
Oprah was friends with Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39 (as well as Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland) before their move to the US, and attended their royal wedding in May 2018.
However they appear to have grown considerably closer over the past 12 months, with Oprah proving herself a generous friend, gifting story books to their son Archie and organising for her friend Tyler Perry to let them stay in his Beverly Hills mansion while they found their feet across the pond.
Oprah (pictured in December) was friends with Harry and Meghan (as well as Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland) before their move to the US, and attended their royal wedding in May 2018
Reports surfaced last year that Oprah had helped advise Meghan and Harry on leaving their posts as senior members of the Royal Family, but she denied the claim.
In April 2019, the Duke of Sussex announced a partnership with media mogul Oprah as co-creators and executive producers of a new mental health documentary series for Apple.
The pair had reportedly worked on it for ‘several months’ during a number of ‘secret meetings in London’ – however it emerged this week that Covid-19 restrictions, Harry’s exit from the Royal Family and move to the US with Meghan Markle has ‘stalled’ production.
Last month Meghan cannily used her connections by gifting Oprah a bundle of coffee from a company she invested in to plug to her 19.2 million followers on Instagram.
Oprah captioned the post: ‘On the first day of Christmas my neighbor “M” sent to me… A basket of deliciousness! (Yes that M).’
It later emerged that the Duchess has decided to invest in Clevr Blends as she begins to build a portfolio of startup investments – her first such venture since officially stepping back from royal duties.
PR guru Mark Borkowski told MailOnline that Oprah’s endorsement was worth at least $1million and is probably the most valuable piece of free publicity in history.
President Joe and Dr Jill Biden
Members of the British Royal Family are expected to remain politically neutral – so when Harry and Meghan weighed in on the US election and effectively told Americans to vote out Donald Trump, it prompted a furious backlash.
In a Time 100 video message, Prince Harry told voters to ‘reject hate speech’ while Meghan called the presidential race the ‘most important election of our lifetime’ – hinting that they both supported Democrat Joe Biden.
Meghan and Harry hinted in a Time100 video message that they were supporters of Democrat Joe Biden (pictured with his wife Jill) – who will be sworn in as the US President on January 20
While Harry and Meghan did not name their favoured candidate, many viewers thought it ‘obvious’ they were backing Biden over Trump – although a source close to Harry denied this.
Days before the Time 100 video was released, activist and Democrat campaigner Gloria Steinem revealed that Meghan had been ‘cold-calling US voters’, explaining that she and the Duchess reached out to people together in order to encourage them to take part in the election process.
While Harry was unable to take part in the election because he is not a US citizen, Meghan reportedly ‘couldn’t wait’ to cast her vote, which she did via mail-in ballot.
It certainly didn’t do Biden any harm to have such high profile advocates – he won the election and will be sworn in later this month.
Meanwhile Buckingham Palace issued a cutting response to Harry and Meghan’s Time 100 video, commenting: ‘The Duke is not a working member of the Royal Family and any comments he makes are made in a personal capacity.’ Ouch.
David Foster and Katharine McPhee
After leaving his own family behind the UK, he has reportedly found a ‘father figure’ in music mogul David Foster, 71, the husband of Meghan’s childhood pal Katharine McPhee, 36.
In September David reportedly masterminded Harry’s birthday celebrations, throwing him a party to celebrate his first Los Angeles-based birthday.
It is understood that the two couples have grown incredibly close, with Meghan and Katharine establishing a friendship back when they attended the same Los Angeles school as teenagers, before introducing their husbands, who also formed an instant bond.
Katharine, who is currently pregnant, told Access Hollywood in May that her husband and Harry have formed a ‘beautiful relationship’ that is more like that of a ‘father and son’.
Harry has reportedly found a ‘father figure’ in music mogul David Foster, 71, the husband of Meghan’s childhood pal Katharine McPhee, 36 (pictured)
‘My husband has a really, really beautiful relationship with Harry,’ she said. ‘They’re like, they’re so cute. They’re like father and son.’
She added that she and Meghan first reconnected in 2019, having formed a friendship during childhood, although Katharine noted that David and Harry have actually grown far closer than the two women.
David even stepped in to help Meghan and Harry organise their stint at a $14.1 million mansion in Canada over the festive period in 2019, where they spent several months before moving to California.
Speaking to DailyMail.com in January, music producer David said that he hooked the royal couple up with the sprawling property, which was located on the waterfront in North Saanich, near Vancouver.
David said his wife Katharine discovered that the Duke and Duchess were in need of a discreet spot for their first Christmas holiday with a then-seven-month-old Archie and Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, and he was happy to oblige.
It’s likely the couple’s new baby will become a future playmate for toddler Archie.
While Kate has always been close to brother-in-law Harry, she didn’t share the same relationship with Meghan.
According to the authors of Finding Freedom, Harry and Meghan’s unofficial biography, the pair ‘struggled to move past distance politeness’ and had ‘nothing in common other than the fact that they lived at Kensington Palace’.
While Kate has always been close to brother-in-law Harry, she didn’t share the same relationship with Meghan (pictured together in December 2018)
They were often dubbed the ‘duelling Duchesses’, while Meghan was apparently ‘disappointed’ that Kate didn’t offer a ‘stronger shoulder of support’.
Last year the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge threatened to take legal action against Tatler magazine after a scathing article claimed Kate felt ‘exhausted and trapped’ by the increased workload following Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back from royal life.
Duncan Larcombe, a former royal editor, told New magazine, via OK, that Kate was particularly upset by the article because she is ‘very keen’ to stop comparisons being drawn between herself and her sister-in-law.
Since Meghan’s departure, Kate has certainly been able to throw herself into her royal duties without being dogged by feuding rumours
He said that the constant comparisons between the two women makes it seem like ‘Kate is almost used by some outlets as a stick to beat Meghan with’.
Since Meghan’s departure, Kate has certainly been able to throw herself into her royal duties without being dogged by feuding rumours.
Throughout the pandemic she has deftly juggled her work with homeschooling Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, and is now the third most popular royal according to a YouGov Royal favourability tracker which polled Brits across January, March and October.
The same poll found Harry and Meghan’s standing with the public fell during lockdown and its aftermath.
Hours before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex quit Britain, writer Scobie claims he ‘hugged’ Meghan during an emotional farewell.
Months later he and co-author Carolyn Durand penned the controversial biography Finding Freedom, which raised eyebrows for its gushing praise and intimate knowledge of the Sussexes as it dissected their split from the Firm.
Omid Scobie (left) and co-author Carolyn Durand penned the controversial biography Finding Freedom (right), which raised eyebrows for its gushing praise and intimate knowledge of the Sussexes as it dissected their split from the Firm
It topped the UK bestseller list when it was published in August and sold more than 31,000 hardback copies in just five days of being on sale, according to Nielsen Book.
Despite Scobie’s denial that he interviewed Harry and Meghan for the book, the author’s note appeared to acknowledge that he and Durand did work with the couple on the biography. It stated: ‘We have spoken with close friends of Harry and Meghan, royal aides and palace staff (past and present), the charities and organisations they have built long-lasting relationships with and, when appropriate, the couple themselves.’
Following its release Scobie made numerous television appearances and, in September, he revealed he is filming with Netflix – days after the Sussexes signed a $150million megadeal with the media giant.
Though this week it emerged that Finding Freedom, initially priced at £20, is now being sold for 99p on online book shop Hive – just five months after it was first published.
The hardworking Princess Royal has remained focused and dedicated to her royal duties throughout her life – which is most likely the reason she is expected to take over Harry’s military role in the Royal Marines post-Megxit
Princess Anne reportedly sympathises with Harry and Meghan, because the ‘new, young and glamorous’ royals face ‘pressure’ in the role which is ‘not easy’, according to a royal expert.
Harry and Meghan will have ‘a stronger partnership than ever after Megxit’
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are ‘stronger than ever’ and hope 2021 will be a year of healing, one year on from the announcement they are stepping down as senior members of the royal family.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have no regrets about leaving The Firm, and have been bought closer by everything they’ve been through in 2020, a source close to the royals has said.
‘What they have been through together has brought them closer,’ a source told Vanity Fair. ‘They are very much a partnership.’
Meanwhile another source close to the couple said they hope 2021 will be better and they will be able to mend rifts with their family.
‘They hoping 2021 can be a time of healing not just for the world, but for their family,’ the source told People magazine.
Robert Hardman, who interviewed the royal extensively for the documentary Princess Royal: Anne at 70, said she is ‘rather glad she’s not setting off on this path today’.
The hardworking Princess Royal has remained focused and dedicated to her royal duties throughout her life – which is most likely the reason she is expected to take over Harry’s military role in the Royal Marines post-Megxit.
Harry had to step down from a number of military appointments, including Captain-General of the Royal Marines, a role he was handed by the Queen in December 2017, succeeding the Duke of Edinburgh, when he officially quit as a senior royal.
Prince Philip, who was Captain General for 64 years, was reportedly keen for his daughter to take over the role from his grandson.
Anne, who lives at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire, is already associated with 65 military organisations and currently Chief Commandant for Women in the Royal Navy.
If Anne were to become Captain General of the Royal Marines, she would be the first female to hold the post and it is hoped her appointment will prove inspirational to women considering a career in the Armed Forces.
The Queen had welcomed the exciting new dimension that a mixed-race recruit brought to the Windsor identity, and she fought hard to accommodate Meghan and Harry’s concerns – so when they announced their shock decision to quit, she and Prince Philip were ‘devastated’.
When the news broken, Her Majesty was said to be focused on the wellbeing of her ‘much-loved’ grandson rather than the lasting impact of Megxit on the monarchy – but her patience soon wore thin.
Despite Harry and Meghan stressing their desire to ‘still support the Queen’ after stepping down as senior royals to earn their own money, the dual role was deemed unworkable.
The Queen had welcomed the exciting new dimension that a mixed-race recruit brought to the Windsor identity, and she fought hard to accommodate Meghan and Harry’s concerns – so when they announced their shock decision to quit, she and Prince Philip were ‘devastated’
The Queen held a summit at Sandringham to deal with the crisis and the outcome was a hard Megxit.
In October the book Battle of Brothers, written by respected royal biographer Robert Lacey, claimed the monarch, who has always had a soft spot for her wayward grandson, felt Harry and Meghan were ‘erratic and impulsive’ in their behaviour, leading her to strip them of their Sussex Royal moniker.
It also claimed that the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William were not consulted over the multiple legal actions against the media announced by Harry and Meghan on their Africa tour in September 2019, which they believe have affected the image of the monarchy.
Harry’s school pals
Harry’s move to the US will have come as a blow to his UK-based school pals, including brothers Charlie and Thomas van Straubenzee, whom he met at Ludgrove prep school, in Berkshire.
The families have been friends for decades, with their uncle, William van Straubenzee, a close friend of Harry and William’s mother Princess Diana.
The Van Straubenzee boys, Thomas (right) and Charles (left), have been close friends and confidants of the royal brothers for years
Charlie is very close with Harry and is godfather to Archie. Charlie’s brother Henry was also a classmate of Harry’s; he died in 2002 aged 18 when a car in which he was a passenger hit a tree outside their school.
In December Harry honoured his late friend with a donation to the charity fund set up in his name, which works to improve the quality of education in impoverished rural Ugandan schools.
One of Harry’s oldest friends and renowned ‘wingman’, Tom ‘Skippy’ Inskip, whom he met at Eton College, lives in the US.
For a time the men were inseparable, however according to Finding Freedom, Skippy had a falling out with Harry after he shared his ‘doubts’ about the Duchess before they became engaged.
Charlie van Straubenzee (pictured beside Guy Pelly with Harry at the England versus Australia Rugby World Cup clash in 2015) is very close with Harry and is godfather to Archie
One of Harry’s oldest friends and renowned ‘wingman’, Tom ‘Skippy’ Inskip, pictured with his wife Lara, whom he met at Eton College, lives in the US
He is believed to have advised Harry and Meghan to live together before ‘doing anything more serious.’
A source close to Duke and Duchess of Sussex told the book’s authors that although his advice ‘came from a good place,’ Prince Harry ‘didn’t totally see it that way’, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
‘It really hurt him that someone he was so close to would not trust his judgment,’ added the source, who is believed to have spoken out with the permission of Harry and Meghan.
As a result, Skippy and his wife Lara were reportedly ‘punished’ by being excluded from Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding party at Frogmore House.
However, it was reported in May that Harry and Skippy, who lives in Washington DC and works at US tech giant Afiniti, have patched things up.
Harry’s friend Guy Pelly, who has known the Prince since he was a boy, has reportedly visited the Duke in California while he and Meghan were staying at Tyler Perry’s mansion. He was joined by his American wife, Elizabeth Wilson, and their three-year-old daughter, Willow.
Their patronages and charities
While Harry and Meghan have have made it clear that they want their work in the UK, including their royal patronages, to continue, since March any interaction they’ve enjoyed with the Sussexes will have been virtual, not in person.
The coronavirus pandemic has prevented the couple from visiting the UK, due to bans on non-essential travel.
While Harry and Meghan have have made it clear that they want their work in the UK, including their royal patronages, to continue, since March any interaction they’ve enjoyed with the Sussexes will have been virtual, not in person. Pictured: Meghan talks with Patsy Wardally, during her visit to Smart Works, in London, on the day that she became their patron in January 2019
Last month Harry surprised previous winners of WellChild Awards on a Zoom call. The organisation is one of the four charities chosen by the Duke and Duchess to benefit from the generous donations made by the public on the occasion of the birth of their son, Archie Mountbatten Windsor.
Harry is keen on retaining all his military appointments, while Meghan remains a royal patron of the National Theatre.
Bosses were said to be fuming after ‘Meghan ‘carried on as normal’ during a visit to the theatre hours before she and Harry dropped their bombshell in January, however its artistic director said the following month they were confident the Duchess will remain ‘engaged’ and were looking forward to working with her and her ‘star reach’. Meghan made a secret visit to the National Theatre in March before she and Harry left for the US.
Last year London-based Smart Works, a charity which helps dress unemployed women for interviews to help them get back in the workforce, of which Meghan is patron, quietly removed references to the terms ‘HRH’ and ‘royal’ when mentioning the Duchess.
Harry is keen on retaining all his military appointments, while Meghan remains a royal patron of the National Theatre (pictured on a visit there in 2019)
Royal biographer Andrew Morton has claimed that, if Covid restrictions allow, the Sussexes would like to return to Britain for the Queen’s 95th birthday on April 21, the Duke of Edinburgh’s 100th birthday in June and the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana on July 1, on what would have been her 60th birthday. It’s understood the couple want to increase the amount of time before a deal relinquishing their position becomes permanent.
Despite his apparent fury over the way Harry and Meghan announced their intention to step down, Charles and his son remain very close.
The pair have remained in regular contact, with Harry particularly concerned when the Prince of Wales contracted coronavirus last year.
In October Charles spoke of his sadness at not seeing grandson Archie for more than a year.
Despite his apparent fury over the way Harry and Meghan announced their intention to step down, Charles and his son remain very close and the Prince of Wales is said to miss his grandson Archie
Before stepping back from Royal duties, the couple returned to the UK twice at the start of 2020 but did not bring Archie with them.
A friend said: ‘The Prince of Wales enjoyed popping into Frogmore Cottage to see his youngest grandchild and is sad that he hasn’t seen him for so long. He has missed much of his development since he is now growing up in the USA.
‘Other members of the family are very sad at not seeing him. Everyone really misses Archie – they feel it’s particularly sad for the Queen and Prince Philip.
‘Harry always said he looked forward to raising his family with William’s – which of course is not now happening.’
The Sussexes’ staff
Other casualties of Megxit include 15 members of ‘loyal’ staff, who lost their jobs when Harry and Meghan closed their Buckingham Palace office to move to the US.
The couple reportedly broke the news to their team in person in January following the announcement that they were stepping down as senior working royals.
Their newly appointed private secretary Fiona Mcilwham – who was on secondment from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – and their hugely experienced communications chief Sara Latham, plus her deputy, assistant communications secretary Marnie Gaffney, were among those who got the axe.
Fiona McWilwham, Private Secretary to the Duchess of Sussex, and Head of communications, Sara Latham, were among those to lose their jobs
Harry’s long-standing programme co-ordinator Clara Loughran, who was so well regarded by the prince that she was asked to hand Meghan her bouquet in church on her wedding day, also went.
Press officer Julie Burley, who worked for Harry, William and Kate on their successful mental health campaign Heads Together, and David Watkins, poached from fashion house Burberry to become the couple’s social media expert, were also out.
Last month it was reported Harry and Meghan rehired two palace aides who lost their jobs when they left the UK on a freelance basis to work on charity projects in the UK – Ms Loughran and Beth Herlihy.
Projects manager Clara Loughran née Madden at Trinity College during the Royal visit to Dublin, Ireland. She has recently been rehired by the Sussexes after losing her job post-Megxit