This year alone, the runaway Royals have seen the cancellation of their famed Spotify deal, followed by an Emmys snub for their majorly hyped Netflix series ‘Harry & Meghan.’
The couple is rumoured to be ‘devastated’ by the news their show, the first in their multi-million-dollar deal with Netflix, has not even been considered for nomination. This follows the cancellation of their much-heralded podcast deal with Spotify, which was cancelled after only 12 episodes.
The bad news is the latest in a turbulent ten months for the California-based Sussexes, who are still reeling from the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September and the fallout from the release of Harry’s memoir Spare in January 2023, which rocked the famous inhabitants of Buckingham Palace to their core.
Although, life has been far from quiet for the pair, who have endured the glare of the world’s media since announcing their relationship back in 2016.
How did Harry and Meghan meet?
In 2016, Prince Harry, fifth in line to the throne, began dating Hollywood actress Meghan Markle. The famous pair met through a mutual friend, Violet von Westenholz, after Harry saw a picture of her wearing a pair of dog ears on social media.
At the time, Meghan was best known for her leading role as Rachel Zane in Netflix smash-hit Suits. Based in Canada, she also ran a lifestyle blog and was an occasional fashion designer. Prince Harry, whose job was, of course, being Prince Harry, resided in the luxurious Royal bolthole Kensington Palace.
The pair met for the first time in Soho House's Dean Street Townhouse in London. Harry was ‘obsessed' with her from the outset, and the feeling was mutual. Before long, their relationship blossomed, and a few months later, the couple went to Botswana, southern Africa, for only their third date.
When did Harry and Meghan get engaged?
In November 2017, over a year after their first few dates, the couple announced their engagement. There were many signs that the couple were serious about each other, and Harry notably designed the engagement ring himself, which included two diamonds from his late mother Princess Diana’s personal jewellery collection.
What did Buckingham Palace think of Harry and Meghan’s relationship?
As always, Buckingham Palace maintained a dignified silence, wanting to protect the couple’s privacy. Harry and Meghan started making appearances at official Royal occasions, and the pair were often seen with Prince William, Kate and their children.
However, in late November, Meghan and Harry made what was possibly their first step outside of strict Royal policy. In response to false comments made by internet users and the British press, Prince Harry released a statement through the Royals’ Communication Secretary: “This is not a game - it is her life and his.”
The couple had struck the first blow in what would be a long-term battle with the UK press.
Did Harry and Meghan get married?
On 19th May 2018, Harry and Meghan held their wedding at St George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Following the marriage, they consequently became known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
After marriage, the two initially settled down in Nottingham Cottage, part of the Kensington Palace estate. They later upgraded to Frogmore Cottage, Windsor Castle, with the Crown Estate footing the bill for the £2.4 million makeover.
How did Harry and Meghan make their money?
As Harry and Meghan worked for The Royal Family, 95% of their annual income came from Harry's father, Charles, the Prince of Wales.
The Royal Family are very strict about sponsorship deals, so the couple rely hugely on their Royal income.
Why did Meghan announce her pregnancy at Eugenie's wedding?
In October 2018, the Duke and Duchess announced their pregnancy to the world. They find out they’re expecting only a few months after their wedding and announce the news to the Royal Family at Eugenie’s wedding so the family could know before the news leaked out.
When did Harry and Meghan have their first child?
In May 2019, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born in Portland Hospital, London.
When did cracks first start to show?
In June 2019, the couple officially broke ties with The Royal Foundation, the household office they shared with William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Just one month later, the foursome share a Royal box at Wimbledon, with the Duchess said to be embarrassed over her decision to wear jeans to the historic event.
Months later, they also left the charity the foursome shared, fuelling rumours of a feud between the Royal brothers.
In September of the same month, Harry and Meghan embarked on a tour of a 10-date tour of Africa. Despite the positivity surrounding the visit, which saw them meet with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the couple revealed the struggles they’d been experiencing due to the constant press attention. During an ITV documentary, Meghan admitted she’d struggled to adapt to Royal life, with Harry experiencing difficulties managing his mental health.
How did Harry and Meghan quit The Royal Family?
In January 2020, they made the bombshell announcement. On the Palace website and the couple’s official Instagram page, Harry and Meghan released a statement that changed everything:
A personal message from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex:
"After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.
"We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.
"It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth and our patronages.
"This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.
"We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties.
"Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support."
To say there was a fallout with the rest of the Royal Family would be an understatement. Buckingham Palace took another unprecedented step with a counteracting statement of its own:
"Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage.
"We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
The news sent shockwaves through the British people and the world’s media. In removing themselves from the Royal fold, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took a huge financial and personal risk to extricate themselves from the public eye.
But what have the couple been up to ever since?
- It is announced that the couple will officially step back from Royal duty on 31st March. Harry and Meghan will spend the six weeks until then preparing for a clean break from their former life.
- It is reported that the breakaway Royals are currently trialling life away from the tabloid glare by staying in a palace fit for a Duke and Duchess.
- The news emerges that Harry and Meghan’s Canadian current hideaway is in a $14 million, 10,000 square foot ‘palace-like’ mansion called Mille Fleurs on the Saanich Inlet of North Saanich, British Columbia, Canada.
- It is not known exactly who owns the mansion, but rumours swirl about the mystery owner being a Russian multi-millionaire.
- With Harry, Meghan and Archie now effectively homeless, without security and with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, the family stay at the LA home of actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry.
- Meghan and Harry continue extracting themselves from public life, sending letters to the editors of the UK’s leading newspapers and websites, vowing they would no longer “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.”
- Once across the pond, the couple spent time in various places in the US and Canada before crashing at Tyler Perry’s home. However, reports indicate that Harry and Meghan have finally purchased their own home in Montecito, California.
- Not just any old home, however, but a $14.6 million (£11 million) mega-mansion in Los Angeles’ swanky Santa Barbara neighbourhood of Montecito. Counting celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres as neighbours, the ex-Royals can enjoy the perfect hideaway, complete with nine bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, a swimming pool, tennis court, children’s cottage and luxury Italianate gardens.
- The couple and their son, Archie, are now officially based overseas.
- In their first major move since February’s bombshell announcement, it is revealed that the runaway Royals have signed a multi-year deal with streaming giants Netflix.
- The lucrative agreement clarifies rumours of a major deal on the horizon, with the couple having met many Hollywood production companies over the last several weeks. Harry and his actress wife will make TV series, films and children’s shows as part of their deal.
- Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, says that the Duke and Duchess “have inspired millions of people worldwide with their authenticity, optimism and leadership.” He adds that staff are “incredibly proud they have chosen Netflix as their creative home.”
- The deal sees Netflix link up with the couples’ newly-formed production company, Archewell Productions, which vows “to produce programming that informs, elevates, and inspires.”
- In an article for The New York Times, Meghan reveals the heartbreaking news that she suffered a miscarriage back in July.
- She talks of her pain in the aftermath of the traumatic event, writing that "losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few.”
- She also addresses public attitudes towards losing a child, adding her disappointment that “the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”
- In their second major deal of the year, the Sussexes put pen to paper with streaming giants Spotify in a $20m multi-year deal to produce podcasts.
- In a partnership with the couples’ production company Archewell Audio, Dawn Ostroff, Spotify's chief content and advertising business officer, heaps praise on the pair, calling them "citizens of the world.”
- Harry goes on record vowing that their podcast would “bring forward different perspectives and voices that perhaps you haven’t heard before.”
- Prince Harry and US presenter Oprah Winfrey interview Meghan in a deeply personal TV interview filmed in the presenter’s home garden. In the two-hour TV special, which was television on CBS in the US and ITV in the UK, the couple opened up on various topics, including being “trapped in the system” of the Royal Family, their struggles with the media, mental health and racism.
- In an interview which spreads panic throughout Buckingham Palace, Meghan reveals that she “didn’t want to live anymore” in light of the Royal fallout and that an unnamed member of the family (not the Queen or Prince Philip) spoke of concerns of “how dark” their son’s skin would be.
- In other revelations, the estranged couple speaks of the Royal Family’s in-fighting, not being supported by their family and being advised not to take on the “bigoted” media over their racism fears. However, the interview does see the announcement that their second child, due in the summer, will be a baby girl.
- Although they were not paid for the appearance, the couple shared that they’ve been financially cut off by the Royal Family and forced to seek deals with Netflix and Spotify that were “never part of the plan.”
- The Duke of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey join forces again, collaborating on an Apple+ TV show entitled ‘The Me You Can’t See.’ The six-part documentary series, which features celebrity guests such as singer/actress Lady Gaga, actress Glenn Close and Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozen, delves into the stigmatisation of mental health.
- On 4th June, Meghan and Harry welcomed their second child, Princess Lilibet of Sussex, at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California. Their newborn daughter shares her name with the pet name of great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth and her paternal grandmother, the late Princess Diana.
- The BBC later reports that the Queen was not consulted on the name, which causes Harry to threaten libel against the broadcasting house.
- Four days after giving birth to her second child, Meghan published a children's picture book called The Bench. She reportedly received a likely $700,000 advance from publishers Random House Children’s Books.
- In February, The Queen becomes the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, sparking a four-day Bank Holiday weekend from 4th - 8th June.
- Harry & Meghan travel from California to the UK for the Queen’s four-day celebration, sparking a media frenzy about their role in the historic event.
- The trip is largely low-key. On Thursday, they are spotted watching the Trooping the Colour ceremony with members of their extended family. However, due to no longer being working Royals, they do not appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, nor do they take part in the parade procession. Instead, they look on from a military building overlooking Horse Guards Parade.
- These are the only two public appearances made by the couple as they make a swift exit back to the US following the celebrations.
- Two years after announcing their Spotify partnership, the Sussexes released The Archetypes podcast. Hosted by Meghan, the podcast features celebrity guests exploring issues ranging from feminism to racism and stereotypes.
- Although receiving mixed reviews, the Archetypes podcast would go on to be the winner of The Pop Podcast of 2022 award at the 48th People's Choice Awards, with Meghan winning the award for Entertainment Podcast Host at the 48th Annual Gracie Awards.
- On the 10th of September, the couple join the rest of the world in mourning at Her Majesty’s funeral in London. Despite the public fallout, Buckingham Palace put aside differences by situating Meghan & Harry directly behind Prince Charles - the incumbent King Charles.
However, it is notable that they did not occupy a front-row berth. Instead, front-row status was gifted to Prince William & Kate, their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and Anne, the Queen’s only daughter.
- As Harry is no longer a working Royal, he dresses in a simple black suit, decked out with military medals. Meghan wears earrings gifted to her by the Queen.
- Finally, the couples’ Netflix series hits TV screens. Although not the explosive documentary many were expecting (or indeed, hoping for), many talking points still arise from the six-part series.
- Harry admits the Royal Family’s unconscious bias over racism, stating they are “sometimes part of the problem rather than part of the solution.” Viewers also get a sneak peek into their life in California, playing with their children and dogs at their Montecito home.
- Meghan also discusses how she has suffered racial abuse since their relationship was publicised. With a lack of any difficult questioning or ambiguous viewpoints, the docuseries is seen by some critics as no more than a PR piece, part of the Sussex's attempt to change the narrative about their exit from the Royal fold.
- On 10th January, Harry’s memoir, Spare, is officially published. The hotly-anticipated book becomes a bestseller even before its official release. Ghostwritten with writer JR Moehringer, the book covers his life so far, including his upbringing, relationship with his brother Prince William, his grief with losing his mother Princess Diana and his turbulent years spent serving in the military in Afghanistan.
- The book accidentally goes on sale early in Spain, which means the most high-profile sections of the biography are leaked before the release. Much of these are shocking, including a passage about being physically assaulted by his brother, suffering a frostbitten penis on the eve of Prince William’s wedding and encouraging his father, Prince Charles, not to marry Camilla.
- Other passages include stories such as trying to communicate to this mother through a medium, retracing the steps of the horror crash that killed her, and hallucinating in Friends actress Courtney Cox’s bathroom after taking magic mushrooms.
- British TV reports that Harry is paid £36 million for the book. Some of the proceeds are contributed to Sentebale, a charitable organisation he founded with Prince Seeiso, which supports vulnerable South African children and young people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Contributions are also made to the non-profit WellChild.
- Reports emerge that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been asked to vacate their home on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The Palace remain silent, but a spokesperson for the California-based couple confirm the news. Weeks later, Princess Eugenie and her husband, James Brooksbank, move in.
- In light of his recent memoir, Harry sits down for a public interview with renowned Hungarian-Canadian trauma expert Dr Gabor Maté. During the 90-minute conversation, streamed online for the promotional event, Harry covers many issues, including his traumatic upbringing, racism, marriage and fatherhood, as well as his mother Diana’s death and past drug use.
- Harry describes Meghan as “incredible” and reveals how much Meghan’s life experiences have made him aware of systematic racism. He compares his experience in the public eye to that of Diana’s and describes using drugs to help him cope, recalling how using cocaine gave him “a sense of belonging.”
- During the chat, Harry also admits to using the psychedelic drug ayahuasca on a trip to South America, a “fundamental” experience that helped him to “deal with the traumas and pains of the past.
- Maté publicly diagnoses him with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
- The formerly-Royal couple released a statement announcing that daughter Lilibet was christened at their California home. Harry and Meghan also confirmed a move to use their children's inherited Royal titles before they use them ahead of Charles's impending coronation.
- Their children will now be known as Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet of Sussex. However, they insist the titles are reserved for formal occasions, as opposed to in everyday life.
- On the 6th of May, Harry is watched on TV by 20 million Brits as he turns up at King Charles’ coronation. Although, he does not sit with his brother Prince William in the pre-organised seating plan, instead sitting on the same row as his disgraced uncle Prince Andrew. Meghan remains at home in California.
- Two weeks after the coronation, Meghan and Harry are involved in a highly-publicised “near catastrophic” car chase in New York. The couple’s press secretary released a statement after the couple, plus Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, was pursued by American paparazzi for more than two hours.
- The incident occurs following an awards ceremony at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York, the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s first public appearance since the King’s coronation.
However, the Sussexes’ account is later refuted by their taxi driver, who recalls that the journey was not as dangerous as suggested.
- Back in 2020, Spotify announced an exclusive $20m collaboration with the Sussexes, to the envy of rival streaming platforms worldwide. Three years later, with only 12 episodes of one podcast Archetypes, it is announced that the deal has ended.
- Publicly, it is announced that Spotify and Archewell Audio “mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together”. The podcast won two awards and featured A-Listers such as Mariah Carey, Serena Williams and Andy Cohen. Therefore, it was a reasonable and justifiable statement to make. However, not all was as it seemed.
- Shortly after, Spotify executive and podcast host Bill Simmons goes public, calling the couple “grifters” and bemoaning their lack of productivity. A source close to Spotify told The Wall Street Journal that Meghan and Harry “at times seem surprised by the work required to finish entertainment projects.”
- The WSJ also reported that part of the couple’s procrastination was down to Harry’s inability to contribute sufficient ideas for the podcast. Also, some of his ideas ranged from the bland to the downright outrageous.
- For instance, his podcast episode suggestions veered from his perspective of fatherhood and living in America to exploring religion with the Pope. He also had high hopes of interviewing celebrities to explore their childhood trauma and their impact on their lives. Those celebrities? Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
- Harry flies back to the UK to give phone hacking evidence against UK media group Mirror Group Newspapers.
- The Prince alleges that the company’s newspapers were responsible for hacking his family’s phone between 1996 and 2011.
- He also brings lawsuits against Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers and the Mail newspapers, claiming that Piers Morgan, Editor of the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004, embarked on a "barrage of horrific personal attacks and intimidation.”
- King Charles III welcomes Joe Biden, President of the United States, to Windsor Castle for climate talks. As the monarchy is welcomed by participants of the Climate Finance Mobilisation forum, the most notable aspect is the room choice used in the castle, which has over 1,000 rooms.
- The delegation meets in the royal residence’s historic Oak Room, where Harry & Meghan posed for their wedding pictures in 2018. Is the gesture a coincidence or a nod towards the King mending Royal relations with the married couple? Only time will tell.
Harry and Meghan: What's next?
The journey of Harry and Meghan, the runaway Royals, has been marked by significant ups and downs since they announced their relationship in 2016. The couple's decision to step back as senior members of the Royal Family in 2020 sparked shockwaves and public scrutiny. Despite the controversies and media attention, they have found new ways to advocate for causes close to their hearts while navigating life in the public eye. As they continue to evolve and carve out their own path, their story remains one of both triumphs and tribulations, capturing the world's attention with every step they take.