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Palace Issues Decision on the Sussexes

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Very interesting statement from the Palace today announcing the Queen's decision. I am still working and don't have time to really analyze this right now, but here is a personal statement from the Queen, the statement from the Palace with practical issues, and  a few quick points from me at the bottom.  First Her Majesty The Queen:

And the Palace:

Harry and Meghan are retaining their HRHs, but won't use them.  That's a very interesting compromise.  They will now be styled Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, which is the way a divorced royal is styled, e.g. Sarah Ferguson is Sarah, Duchess of York, she is not HRH The Duchess of York.  More on that later, but as I said in my last post--staying royal was a big deal for Meghan and Harry. 

The couple are giving up all military engagements and all royal charities (but retaining their private charities) and they are remaining president and vice-president of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust. 

Crucially, although the two are repaying the money spent on Frogmore (and will retain it as their U.K. home, paying rent), and they will receive no further funds from the Sovereign Grant, they will still receive funding from Charles privately, which as I have noted in the past, when you are royal and heavily subsidized there really is no such thing as private funding. 

They are free to make commercial deals, but are supposed to "uphold the values" of the Queen. This could mean they have been told they can't get too political, but my bet is they would interpret that broadly and there isn't any oversight on this, according to Rebecca English. [Update--someone telling me that everything must be approved by Lord Chamberlain. If that is the case, it changes things a lot. As I say, full analysis has to wait for later, because I just don't have all the facts yet.]

Do what does all this mean? Based on about the ten minutes I have had to digest the news, I would say that that the Sussexes have probably gotten substantially what they wanted--at least at first blush. 

The Queen is walking an incredibly fine line here.  The Sussexes obviously wanted to stay in the fold as working royals, and the Queen understood that was impossible given what they want. The deal appears to be that the two are maintaining enough ties with the family that they are reaping the benefits of royalty, but it is clear that the compromise was to technically end their status as royal. Technically is the important word there.  They are still royal, which as I noted was a big deal for both, I think.  All overtly royal elements have been removed, though--from the military patronages and engagements, to any charities of which they were patron on behalf of the Queen, to formal roles where they represented the Queen, e.g. Harry is no longer Commonwealth ambassador. Again, they won't use HRH even though they are royal, etc.  This is very surgical.  The Palace has also not commented on their security, but I am hearing (and betting) that will continue to be publicly funded. 

So, at first blush, this is a compromise in which there was give and take.  The Sussexes wanted to officially maintain some status as working royals.  That was impossible, so that had to give that up, but the Queen hasn't left them to fend for themselves with the Hollywood set.  They are still royal even if they are royals in disguise. They will clearly receive financial benefits and prestige benefits (security) of royalty.  Did the Queen stick to her guns? Not entirely, no [unless further facts emerge, like the Lord Chamberlain point above, and are confirmed].  Did the Sussexes get what they wanted? Not entirely, no.  The big question is, will this work? That's the subject of another post. 

Until next time!