Prince Henry Charles Albert David, Duke of Sussex, known by his nickname Prince Harry (born 15 September 1984 in London, United Kingdom). Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, née Rachel Meghan Markle (born 4 August 1981 in Los Angeles, California). After stepping back from the royal family in 2020, Harry, Meghan and their son, Archie, relocated to North America to pursue independent projects and philanthropic work. Their daughter, Lilibet Diana, was born in the United States in 2021.
Meghan and Harry met in June 2016. Although they kept their relationship private for a few months, the press learned of it in the fall of 2016. From that point on, media interest was intense. Harry issued a statement in November confirming their relationship and criticizing the press for their intrusive behaviour, including attempts to illegally enter Meghan’s home in Toronto.
In 2017, Meghan and Harry made their first public appearance as a couple at the Invictus Games in Toronto. Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, also attended the games. After Harry and Meghan’s engagement was announced on 27 November 2017, Meghan moved to the United Kingdom.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on 19 May 2018. On their wedding day, Prince Harry received the titles of Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Harry’s brother, William, was his best man. The large wedding party included Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the two older children of William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Brian, John and Ivy Mulroney, three of the grandchildren of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. An estimated audience of more than two billion people around the world watched the wedding.
Harry and Meghan lived at Nottingham Cottage in Kensington Palace in London and immediately took up royal duties as a married couple. They soon moved to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor to prepare for the arrival of their first child. On 6 May 2019, Meghan gave birth to a boy, whom the couple named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. They chose not to use a title for their son.
Relationship with the Press
Harry and Meghan have had a turbulent relationship with the press, particularly the British tabloids, since making their relationship public. Some headlines, like the Daily Star Online, read: “Harry to marry into gangster royalty? New love from crime-ridden neighbourhood.” In November 2016, Harry released a statement addressing his concerns for Meghan’s safety and criticizing the tabloids for the racist and sexist undertones of their coverage on Meghan: “This is not a game — it is her life and his.”
Despite this warning, Meghan continued to receive excessive negative tabloid coverage. In October 2019, the couple filed lawsuits against the Mail and Associated Newspapers for the unlawful publication of a private letter between Meghan and her father, Thomas Markle. Harry issued another statement: “Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. 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.”
Harry and Meghan also filmed an ITV documentary titled Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, which followed their 10-day tour of South Africa in the fall of 2019. When interviewed by presenter Tom Bradby, both opened up about their struggles with the press. Harry alludes to a rift with his brother, William, while Meghan reveals the toll of the media scrutiny during her pregnancy: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”
Stepping Back from the Royal Family
On 8 January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced via their Sussex Royal Instagram account that they would be stepping back as senior members of the royal family.
They hoped to “carve out a progressive new role” while working toward financial independence. They also intended to split their time between North America and the UK. An official announcement from Buckingham Palace followed on 18 January 2020 confirming that Harry and Meghan would no longer be working members of the royal family. Starting 31 March 2020, Harry and Meghan stopped receiving public funds for royal duties. They were also no longer permitted to use their “SussexRoyal” branding. In her statement, the Queen acknowledged “the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years” and offered her support in their wish for a more independent life.
Move to North America
After spending six weeks in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the end of 2019, Harry and Meghan paid a visit to Canada House in London to express their appreciation. This generated speculation that the couple intended to relocate to Canada. When they announced that they would be stepping back from the royal family, they agreed to split their time between North America and the UK during their transition. By mid-March 2020, the couple, along with their son, Archie, relocated from Canada to Los Angeles to be closer to Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland.
In mid-February 2021, Harry and Meghan announced that they were expecting their second child. Shortly after, American broadcaster CBS announced that the couple had been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. The “intimate” and “wide-ranging” conversation would air on 7 March. On 19 February, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Meghan and Harry would not return as working members of the royal family. By that time, the couple had signed lucrative deals with Spotify and Netflix.
Interview with Oprah Winfrey
The couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey aired on CBS on 7 March 2021 and on Britain’s ITV the following day. In what many considered an “explosive” interview, the couple discussed Meghan’s feelings of isolation within the royal family and how this negatively impacted her mental health. Harry criticized the royal family for not doing more to support them, particularly against racist coverage of Meghan in the British media. According to the couple, this lack of support contributed to their decision to step back from royal duties. Meghan also told Winfrey that during her first pregnancy, a member of the royal family had expressed concern about the colour of her baby’s skin. Neither she nor Harry went into much detail, though Harry clarified that neither the Queen nor Prince Philip made this remark. Both Meghan and Harry said they had a strong personal relationship with the Queen, but their relationships with other members of the royal family, such as Charles and William, had become strained.
Birth of Second Child
Harry and Meghan’s second child, Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, was born on 4 June 2021 in California. Their daughter was named after the Queen, whose nickname in the royal family is “Lilibet,” and Harry’s late mother, Diana.
Philanthropy and Patronages
Harry and Meghan have publicly supported several causes, including veteran affairs, women’s rights and mental health. Harry is the founder of the Invictus Games, a series of athletic competitions for wounded, injured and sick armed forces personnel from around the world. According to Meghan’s old lifestyle blog, The Tig, she was inspired by her mother to get involved in philanthropy at a young age.
In 2009, Harry established the Royal Foundation with his brother, William. The “Fab Four,” as the brothers and their wives were dubbed by the press, worked together on the Royal Foundation. However, in June 2019, Harry and Meghan announced that they would be splitting from the Royal Foundation. They hoped to launch the Sussex Royal Foundation, but after stepping back as senior royals, they were unable to use the term “Royal” in their branding. Instead, they launched Archewell, a non-profit organization aimed at uplifting communities and “fueling systemic cultural change.”
In mid-February 2021, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Harry and Meghan would not return as working members of the royal family and that they would surrender their royal patronages. This included Meghan’s patronage of the Royal National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities and Harry’s patronage of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League. They would, however, keep some private patronages, including the Invictus Games. Harry would also lose his honorary military titles as Captain General of the Royal Marines; Commodore-in-Chief, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving; and Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington.
Meghan and Harry continue to support many charities and causes. This includes Harry’s work with Oprah Winfrey on The Me You Can’t See, a documentary series on mental health released in May 2021. They have also supported Black Lives Matter and led fundraising efforts to provide vaccines to people in low-income countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.