It was "great sadness", but he had "no other choice". Prince Harry expressed himself in these terms, Sunday evening, after his decision to stop all active role in the British royal family and to give up the use of titles that go with it.
"The decision I made for my wife and I was not taken lightly" but after "months of talks, following years of challenges", was justified Sunday the Duke of Sussex to the guests of a charity dinner in London.
In this first public speech on the subject since the announcement of his withdrawal, he apologized for "not always having done things right", without specifying which ones. "We hoped to continue to serve the Queen, the Commonwealth (Editor's note: an organization that brings together almost only former British colonies) and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, this was not possible, "he said.
Producers for Netflix?
Harry, 35, and his wife Meghan, 38, revealed on January 8 that they wanted to gain financial independence and settle in North America with their son Archie, all without notifying the grandmother and the father of Harry, Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.
This decision was qualified as Megxit, a reference to Brexit, the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the Duke and Duchess of Sussex initially wished to keep a foothold in the royal family, the Queen quickly undid them by announcing on Saturday that they should give up using "their title of royal highness, since they are no longer active members of the royal family ”.
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The British press, which puts this episode in the headlines in its editions of Monday, emphasized the pain felt by the royal offspring, "devastated", according to the "Daily Express".
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Certain newspapers project themselves into the new life of the couple in Canada, who could embark on television production. "Duke and Duchess of Netflix? "Wonders the" Daily Mail ". The tabloids, who accused the couple of "wanting their cake and eat it too", welcomed the fact that the duke and duchess, now freed from their "royal obligations", could no longer "formally represent the queen ". The "Sunday Mirror" was therefore delighted that "the queen orders a hard Megxit".
The equivalent of an "abdication"
The couple's stormy relationship with British newspapers, which Harry described as a "mighty force" in his speech on Sunday, weighed in on their decision to step back. Accused of racism towards the Métis American actress, the sensation press regularly attacked Meghan with articles.
For the protocol expert of the royal family Alastair Bruce, questioned by the "Sun", the queen settled the question of an "iron fist". The abandonment of the title of royal highness amounts to "an abdication", since Harry finds himself thus demoted to the same rank as thirty other British dukes.
In addition, if the couple will retain their titles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they will however renounce their royal allowance and will have to reimburse certain public expenses from which they have benefited, in particular the 2.3 million euros employed to renovate their residence in UK. The Daily Telegraph said that faced with the cost of a radical change in the couple's life, Prince Charles will support his son financially for at least a year. The money must "come from its income from private investments," the newspaper said.
"This is absolutely unprecedented," said Dickie Arbiter, former royal press secretary, in the "Sun", noting that "no member of the royal family has ever repaid money," even those who already deprived of their royal highness status.
"A core of senior members working full time"
A number of commentators draw a parallel with the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936. By marrying a divorced American woman, he renounced the throne. The king did not in fact lose his title, seeing himself simply demoted from "His Majesty the King" to "His Royal Majesty the Duke of Windsor". The decision of Queen Elizabeth II thus marks a turning point in the history of one of the oldest British institutions, opening an era of new functioning tightened around the elder branch only.
Prince Charles, who is preparing to take over from his 93-year-old mother, has already expressed his desire to "bring back (the family) to a core of senior members who work full time."
From an emotional point of view, "Harry, Meghan and Archie will remain very dear members of my family", however underlined Elizabeth II. "I will always have the greatest respect for my grandmother, my commander in chief," replied the Duke of Sussex, moved, on Sunday evening.