Since announcing their departure from royal duty on Jan. 8, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have begun to write a bold new chapter—one in which “engagements” are casual and unannounced, free time is spent hiking in the woods near their Vancouver Island home with 9-month-old son Archie, and the rules governing their old life no longer apply.
“This decision [to leave] had been weighing on them for a long time, and they are relieved to have it done,” a friend tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “A weight has been lifted off their shoulders.”
But their new life hasn’t come without a price. After a series of intense discussions with Harry’s 93-year-old grandmother Queen Elizabeth, the couple will no longer use their HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) titles, and Harry had to forgo his role as youth ambassador to the Commonwealth. “It brings me great sadness that it has come to this,” he said on Jan. 19. Harry—who served 10 years in the British army, including two tours of Afghanistan—also relinquished his honorary military appointments.
“The military was a part of his upbringing and his life. He brought a lot to those guys and understood things. It is sad,” says a palace insider.
Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton were apparently not prepared for the shocking jokes made by Hollywood about their family.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walked the red carpet for the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) at London’s Royal Albert Hall Sunday night.
The ceremony is noted for being Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars. It is the fourth consecutive year the British royal couple has attended the ceremony. It is also William’s 10th anniversary as BAFTA’s president.
William, 37, and Middleton, 38, sat front row and appeared tense at the ceremony as stars such as Brad Pitt and Rebel Wilson poked fun at “Megxit” and Prince Andrew.
“The feedback is that many of the stars stepped out of line in front of the patron, which is the Duke of Cambridge,” U.K. media commentator Neil Sean told Fox News. “William is a huge supporter of films and spoke openly in his speech about the lack of diversity at the awards.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are stepping out — in South Beach.
On Thursday, the royal couple made their first joint public appearance since announcing they were “stepping back” from royal life at a private JPMorgan event. The news was first reported by Page Six.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who will no longer be using their “royal highness” titles, attended the event at 1 Hotel in Miami’s South Beach.
Harry gave a speech at the event, PEOPLE has learned, while Meghan did not.
The couple — and their 9-month-old son Archie — have been staying in a $14 million mansion on Vancouver Island, with Meghan enjoying the scenery on hikes with her beagle Guy and the couple’s Labrador. “They are enjoying living a quiet life,” an insider says. “They go for long walks, they do yoga, and Meghan cooks. They are real homebodies who love to chill out with Archie and the dogs.”
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s exit from their royal duties for greener pastures left royal fans wondering about the status of Prince Harry and Prince William’s relationship now that the Sussexes are living in Canada. Harry had confirmed the reports of their feud were true and, if a new report is to be believed, they “didn’t leave on good terms.”
While rumors have persisted that there was a rift between the brothers and it had everything to do with William cautioning Harry about moving too fast with Meghan, they stayed mum about the gossip.
During the 2019 documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Prince Harry finally addressed the rumors.
“Part of this role and part of this job and this family being under the pressure that it’s under… inevitably, you know, stuff happens,” Prince Harry explained. “But, look, we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him and, as I know, he will always be there for me.”
He added: “We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy, but I love him dearly. The majority of stuff is created out of nothing.”
Prince Harry seemed hopeful about their relationship, however, as he noted: “But as brothers, you have good days and you have bad days.”
'As brothers you have good days, you have bad days'
Prince Harry says the 'majority of stuff' written about his relationship with his brother William is 'created out of nothing' and adds: 'I love him dearly'
They still weren’t on ‘good terms’ when Harry and Meghan left When Prince Harry and Meghan announced they would be taking a step back from their royal duties, it was unclear whether the brothers’ feud had anything to do with the decision. An insider shares that they didn’t smooth things over when Prince Harry and Meghan made their exit, but there is a sense of relief, so perhaps removing the stressful elements of their relationship will allow the brothers to make peace.
“They didn’t leave on good terms by any means, but they are both relieved that it’s over,” a family friend told People.
The insider added: “Perhaps [Meghan and Harry] didn’t think things through exactly as they could have, but they wanted to be happy. Who can blame them for that?”
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have spent the past few weeks settling into life in Canada. After their bombshell announcement last month that they will be stepping back from royal life, the couple likely wants to take a break—and a breath—from all the attention. Next month, they will be coming back to the U.K. with baby Archie but not for long. They are returning for a very specific reason, too: Queen Elizabeth has requested their return for the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9, per The Sunday Times.
This event will be part of the final round of royal engagements in which Meghan and Harry take part before they make their final transition to non-royal life. They will attend the service as president and vice-president of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.
The Commonwealth service is very different from the commitments Meghan and Harry have been making in their new life. Last week, they attended an event for JP Morgan in Miami, where Harry spoke to 425 bankers about facing his grief after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in August 1997, when he was 12 years old.
Meghan reportedly spoke at the event about how much she loves her husband. The Sunday Times notes there has been no confirmation that the couple got paid, but there have been reports that the speech earned them $1 million (£760,000).
Last month, Harry stayed in England to discuss negotiations of what life will look like going forward for Meghan and Harry. Negotiations about financial details are still underway, but the Sunday Times reports that the Queen is unfazed by Meghan and Harry's decision to walk away from their life as senior members of the royal family.