If there’s one couple that’s captivated international audiences, dominated the headlines, and shocked a bunch of people in the process, it’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Harry was Britain’s so-called “bad boy’ for so long, that it honestly was pretty shocking that he settled down so quickly. Meghan was a self made woman, an actress, and an American, so the identity differences between the pair alone were enough to make the public go wild. But on the happy days of their engagement announcement, their wedding, and their integration into royal life as a couple, no one could have predicted what was going to happen.
Harry and Meghan surprised everyone when they announced that they’d be stepping away from their roles as senior royals. But the couple had been shocking the British monarchy for some time before that with their choices, not to mention the impact that those choices had on the royals and beyond. So strap in for the drama, the heartache, the shock, and the torment, because no one thought Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would do this to the royal family.
No one thought that Prince Harry would choose love over duty
Duty, above all else, is a royal’s calling. It’s the expectation, the “right” path, the sacrifice that every royal has to make. Prince Harry is in line for the British throne, and as the son of Prince Charles and the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, he was held to the royal standards for years. Despite any wild times he got up to in his younger days, Harry knew that duty to his country would always come first.
But as Harry’s love for Meghan Markle developed, his dedication to the crown began to change. Robert Lacey, the author of Battle of Brothers, told Elle that while Prince William vetted Kate Middleton for years, for a role rather than a marriage, Harry took an entirely different approach. “His parents were locked into an arranged, loveless marriage, and he’s not going to make that mistake,” Lacey revealed. “He’s going to go for love, and that’s what he’s done with Meghan, unapologetically… This is a very appealing but also challenging human dichotomy: Love versus duty.” Indeed, no one thought that Harry would make such a turn on the royals and their way of life.
It came as a shock when Prince Harry brushed off his brother's concerns
Family getting involved in your romantic life is never the best thing to deal with, because everyone has an opinion. And if your family happens to be one of the most high-profile families in the world, then things are naturally complicated. But no one thought that Prince Harry would brush off his brother’s concerns about his relationship with Meghan Markle like he did, given that the two were so close for so long.
Robert Lacey, the author of Battle of Brothers, told Elle that William approached Harry about his relationship with Meghan, expressing to his younger brother that he was concerned about the speed at which the relationship was progressing. According to Lacey, Harry completely brushed William and his concerns off, a move that definitely came as a shock. In turn, William approached his uncle, Charles Spencer, and asked him to step into the picture and influence Harry’s decision making. It was surprising that William turned to his mother’s side of the family, rather than his father’s, to influence Harry. But no dice, Harry’s mind was made up.
No one thought that Prince Harry would get into such a public feud with Prince William
There comes a time in every sibling’s relationship where things get complicated, but no one thought that Prince Harry would let things get so bad with his brother, Prince William. What started as concerns on William’s part turned into a full-fledged public feud, with the brothers reportedly not even being able to sit in the same room together. “The fundamental conflict was between the two males who had known each other all their lives and had never hesitated to tell each other exactly what they thought and felt,” Robert Lacey, the author of Battle of Brothers, wrote, as noted by People. “William worried that his brother was moving too fast in his courtship — and he did not shrink from saying as much.”
Some speculated that Harry would mend the rift, but that wasn’t the case. Lacey speculated that given the “pain and trauma” in Harry’s life, due to his upbringing and the death of his mother, he was not willing to compromise on his love for Meghan. But no one could have suspected that Harry would put the royal family through such public turmoil.
It came as a shock when Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton's relationship began to fizzle
From the onset of Prince Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle, it was obvious that Meghan and Kate Middleton were different. But the public rift between their husbands clearly rubbed off on them, and their relationship dwindled into thin air.
According to People, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand — who wrote the book Finding Freedom – claimed that as things got progressively worse between Harry and the royals, Kate did very little to mend any kind of gap between herself and Meghan. No one was expecting the two women to become best friends, and the two were certainly “not at war with each other,” but according to the authors, there were a lot of “awkward moments” between them, with neither going the extra mile to try to fix the dynamic.
While Harry “felt that there were so many occasions when the institution and his family could have helped” he and Meghan, there was a lot of pent up animosity. According to one source, Kate thought that the only thing that she and Meghan had in common was that they lived in Kensington Palace. Yikes.
Literally no one thought that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would leave the royal family
The “stiff upper lip” mentality held by the British is known around the world, and it certainly is the approach that the royal family has taken. But nothing was going to fix the rift between Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and the royal family. So in a shocking announcement, the couple revealed that they’d be stepping back from their roles as senior royals.
According to the BBC, Harry and Meghan revealed that they’d be splitting their time between North America and the United Kingdom, and that they’d be strive for financial independence. The announcement came as a huge shock, because in all honesty, no one had ever seen such important members of the royal family actively make the decision to leave.
Harry and Meghan revealed over time that things were really difficult for them, such as the intense media pressure that they faced. When they finally made the call to leave, their statement read that they’d still support the Queen, and they’d come to the decision after months of “reflection.” Still, literally no one thought they would do this to the royals.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hadn't told the royal family about their plans to step back
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s announcement that they’d be stepping back from the royal family was shocking enough, but things got worse when it was reported that the royal family didn’t know about the announcement before it was made. According to the BBC, “no other royal — including the Queen or Prince William — was consulted before the statement.” The report continued, saying that the palace was “disappointed” by the announcement and that other senior royals were “hurt” by the lack of warning beforehand.
The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond, said that the fact that palace officials confirmed that the royals were “disappointed” was a huge indication that things were bad. “I think it indicates a real strength of feeling in the palace tonight… the lack of consultation I think will sting,” he revealed. “This is clearly a major rift between Harry and Meghan on one part, and the rest of the Royal Family on the other.” No one thought that Harry and Markle would leave, let alone do it this way.
No one thought that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would leave Britain for the United States
Things started to go south when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took a temporary step back from their roles as senior royals in 2019. As noted by Vanity Fair, they went on vacation to Canada during their break, and then decided to leave their roles as senior royals for good. In the wake of their decision, Harry and Meghan sent an email to Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth and asked if they could meet in-person to discuss the couple’s future and their wishes to move from the United Kingdom.
But things got a bit dicey after that. The Sun reported on January 7, 2020 that Harry and Meghan were “looking to move to Canada.” Just one day later, the couple posted on their official Instagram account that they’d be moving, which reportedly caught the entire palace and Queen Elizabeth “off guard.” To make matters even more severe, Markle left the United Kingdom that same day for Canada, where her son Archie was staying. The pattern of the palace not being consulted on any of the couple’s decisions became more and more noticeable.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pushed back after their departure from the royals was finalized
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left their roles as senior royals, they were put on a one-year probation. After the year was up, their arrangement with the royals would be revisited — well, that year is already up, and Harry and Meghan are (as of publication) completely removed from their royal titles and patronages. The palace confirmed that the couple had officially stepped down, and released a statement saying, “The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service,” as noted by People.
This clearly did not sit well with the couple, because they released their own statement after the fact stating, “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.” In the wake of their response, it was reported that Prince William was “really sad and genuinely shocked” that his brother responded in such a way, finding the statement “insulting and disrespectful.” That rift doesn’t look like it will heal any time soon.
No one thought that Prince Harry would defy royal expectations when it came to his engagement
The royal family’s marriages are known for one thing: maintaining the royal lineage. Take Princess Diana Spencer, for example. At just 19, she was selected to marry Prince Charles, to produce an heir to the throne, and carry out her royal duties. Robert Lacey, the author of Battle of Brothers, told Elle that the marriage was “loveless.” As such, Prince Harry did not follow suit.
But Harry’s decision to marry Meghan Markle threw royal expectations in the faces of his family members, something that certainly came as a surprise. Lacey said that Prince William approached Harry, telling him that he couldn’t marry “a self-made Hollywood celebrity and a self-made millionairess,” who held her own morals and beliefs. According to William, she didn’t “fit inside the rather safe and conservative British Royal Family.”
While the words were harsh, no one thought that Harry would completely defy his entire family and move forward with his convictions, throwing out generations of royal marriage expectations out with the trash. Time will tell if the rift between the couple and the royal family will ever mend.
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