Harry and Meghan begin life as (almost) ordinary people

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan. File photo.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Ben Birchall/Pool/File Photo

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, began a new life Sunday as — somewhat — ordinary people with financial worries and security concerns after being stripped of their royal titles and public funding by the queen.

The settlement announced by Buckingham Palace on Saturday saw the 93-year-old monarch assume her painfully familiar role of managing a family crisis that threatened the foundations of one of Britain’s oldest institutions.

The “Megxit” mess began when the couple gave up their front-line family duties and announced plans on January 8 to chart a “progressive new role” in North America.

They did so without Queen Elizabeth’s permission or seemingly knowing how it was all going to work out.

A mad rush of royal family meetings and screaming headlines culminated in Saturday’s ruling.

The couple lost their right to be called “his and her royal highness” (HRH) — much as Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, did when she divorced Prince Charles in 1996.

They further agreed to repay £2.4m (R45.2m) of taxpayers’ money spent on renovating their Frogmore Cottage home near Windsor Castle.

“No royal has ever paid back money,” former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter said.

“It is absolutely unprecedented.”

Harry was stripped of the military titles and patronages he was awarded after serving two tours in Afghanistan with the British Army and rising to the rank of captain.

“Even when Edward VIII abdicated [in 1936] he dropped from being His Majesty The King to HRH the Duke of Windsor,” Arbiter said, noting Diana was not born a royal and had her HRH “obtained through marriage”.

Few know what Meghan — a US former TV actress with a huge social media following and A-list celebrity friends such as Oprah Winfrey and the Obamas — thinks of the British brouhaha about ancient acronyms.

The 38-year-old admitted on UK television in October that she “really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried.”

Harry has been open about still being haunted by his mother’s death in a 1997 car crash involving a chasing pack of paparazzi.

He and Meghan filed a series of lawsuits against British media outlets in October.

Harry is expected to join Meghan and their baby son, Archie, on a resort island near the Canadian city of Vancouver this week.

Royal observers think they will spend little time in Britain once — in the words of Buckingham Palace — “this new model takes effect in the spring of 2020”.

The immediate question is how they will make ends meet.

Charles would continue paying his son some money from his private income.

Harry has undisclosed millions of pounds in savings and Meghan has enjoyed a lucrative acting career.

It is not yet clear if Harry and Meghan will be able to cash in on the “Sussex Royal” brand they trademarked in December.

The palace said the issue of who would pay for their pricey security detail would have to be resolved by the UK government at a later date. — AFP

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