ICYMI, it has been a big week for the royal family, and no, we’re not talking about Kate Middleton’s most recent birthday (sorry, Kate). On January 9, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they plan to step down as “senior” members of the royal family, work towards becoming financially independent and split their time between the United Kingdom and North America. “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,” the couple wrote in an Instagram post.
View this post on Instagram
“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.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
And pretty much the whole word went off. Because folks, this is hella big news. Shortly after Megs and Prince Harry made the announcement, Buckingham Palace responded to the news, issuing a pretty curt statement of their 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.”
Buckingham Palace have sent their own statement out, adding that discussions with the couple are at “an early stage.” pic.twitter.com/aCXyEMQuW8
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) January 8, 2020
Additional reports from the BBC claim that the Queen and the Duke of Cambridge (Harry’s big bro, William) weren’t informed before the royal couple released their statement.
BREAKING. BBC Understands that no other member of the Royal Family was consulted before Harry and Meghan issued their personal statement tonight, the Palace is understood to be ‘disappointed’.
— Jonny Dymond (@JonnyDymond) January 8, 2020
You guys, Meg and Harry are wildin’ out!!
And it wasn’t long before everyone and their mother began weighing in on the situation, with many online (including proven garbage human Piers Morgan) blaming Markle for the so-called #Megxit. “People say I’m too critical of Meghan Markle—but she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William & has now split him from the Royal Family. I rest my case,” Morgan tweeted.
People say I'm too critical of Meghan Markle – but she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William & has now split him from the Royal Family.
I rest my case. pic.twitter.com/xgKLTt2Y0Z
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 8, 2020
First of all, Piers, you don’t even like the royal family, so why are you getting involved? Secondly, in the words of Taylor Swift, “You need to calm down,” and so do the rest of the naysayers on the internet, because all of this hate for Markle just reinforces the couple’s decision to step back from royal life in the first place.
We shouldn’t be surprised by Meghan and Harry’s decision
While Meghan and Harry’s announcement is pretty bonkers by virtue of the fact that it’s pretty much unprecedented, we shouldn’t really be that surprised that the famous couple has chosen to step back from the monarchy and everything that comes with it—because the monarchy and everything that comes with it has been pretty shitty to the couple. Since Markle was first announced as Prince Harry’s hot new actor GF in November 2016, she’s been subjected to horrendous racism and scrutiny. On November 8, 2016, Harry released an official statement about the treatment of his then-girlfriend by the British press. In a statement by his personal communications secretary, the Prince noted the warmth he’d previously received from the press, especially focusing on his work and causes he cares about.
“But the past week has seen a line crossed,” the statement read. “His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public—the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from the public—the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.”
It was an unprecedented move, but it was far from the last time that the young royals would have to speak out about harassment since it’s kept up steadily throughout their entire relationship. Even when Meghan was pregnant with little Archie, tabloid rumours swirled about the duchess feuding with her sister-in-law Kate Middleton, being difficult to work for and abandoning her family (despite her dad’s side of the family being toxic and manipulative). It’s also important to note that Meghan has faced a special brand of cruelty and criticism that seemingly no other member of the royal family has had to endure, including her sister-in-law Kate Middleton, which has led many to (rightfully) believe that it’s at least in part because she’s a mixed-race woman.
Of course Meghan Markle is attacked by the British press because she's black, and of course Prince Harry is right to defend her. What a foul country this is.
— Philip Pullman (@PhilipPullman) January 9, 2020
While on their Royal Tour of South Africa in August 2019, the couple filed a lawsuit against British tabloid Mail on Sunday, over the unauthorized publication of one of Meghan’s personal letters to her estranged dad. And on that same tour, both Harry and Meghan opened up about the mental toll of the harassment and vilification. Speaking to ITV journalist Tom Bradby in Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, which aired on October 20, Meghan became visibly emotional while talking about the effect it has had on her, telling him: “Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging,” Markle says, holding back tears. “And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it’s a lot. So, you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed.”
Opening up about how friends had tried to deter her from marrying Harry because of the tabloids, Markle said: “I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair. And that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile,” she says. “If things were fair, if I’d done something wrong, I’d be the first one to go ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I would never do that.’ But when people are saying things that are just untrue and they are being told they’re untrue but they’re allowed to still say them—I don’t know anybody in the world who would feel like that’s OK.”
For his part, Harry also spoke at length about the effect the media had on his own mother, and his fears that the same thing would happen to his wife.
And through it all the palace remained…pretty much silent. This, despite the fact that the palace spoke up when the Queen’s son Prince Andrew was accused of being a sex offender.
Pretty wild how there’s more scandal about Prince Harry and Meghan stepping back from royal duties in an attempt to create some kind of life in which incessant press harassment doesn’t dominate, than say, Prince Andrew stepping back from royal duties BECAUSE HE IS A SEX OFFENDER
— Jess McGuire (@jessmcguire) January 9, 2020
So, we know where their loyalties lie.
I find it so insanely ridiculous that Meghan Markle, who just seems to want to LIVE and isn't hurting ANYONE is catching more backlash than Andrew the Supercreep. Y'all are whacked. #megexit
— jess. (@jessfox12) January 9, 2020
In addition to all the harassment lobbed at the couple, it’s been pretty clear for months that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been slowly pulling away from Harry’s royal fam. First, they established their own household and moved out of Kensington Palace (where they lived with Wills and Kate) in November 2018, then they established their own social media presence with the launch of their independent Instagram account in March 2019, and finally, they straight up told us they were outtie on January 9. In the same royal tour documentary mentioned above, Harry pretty much confirmed rumours that he and his brother were not longer close, telling ITV journalist Tom Bradby, “Inevitably, stuff happens. We’re brothers; we’re on different paths. We don’t see each other as much as we used to.” While he discounted most of what is published about their relationship, Harry did admit that “as brothers, you have good days, you have bad days.”
This doesn’t mean that Meghan and Harry are leaving the royal family entirely
Despite making this big decision, royal obsessives shouldn’t freak out, because Harkle’s announcement doesn’t mean that they’re full-on leaving the royal family altogether (Archie still needs to see his posh grandparents, after all). Per the couple’s newly revamped official website, they claim that “their commitment to The Monarch is resolute, and they aim to continue to fly the flag for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as called upon.” The couple says that they’ll continue to support the Queen by drawing attention to various charities and organizations as patrons.
And, at least with the Queen’s consent, the couple is hoping to remain at their current home, Frogmore Cottage, while staying in the UK.
If other non-senior royals, like Harry’s cousins Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, are any indication, we can also expect Meghan, Harry and Archie to pop up at certain royal events like weddings and baptisms (where Meghan can again show off her killer style).
Read this next: It’s Time for Us to Stand Up for Meghan and Harry
Tons of people are blaming Meghan Markle for the decision
But regardless of the ongoing harassment the duchess endures, and the fact that the couple aren’t simply abandoning the monarchy, full stop, some people are still not thrilled with the decision. Specifically, they think that Meghan has pulled one huge Yoko Ono and stolen Harry away from his family.
Some critics have claimed that Meghan has “ruined the monarchy,” (nope, pretty sure their history of both blatant and subtle racism, among other things, has contributed to that) and disrespected the Queen with the decision. Even Princess Diana’s once-time chef, Darren McGrady, has chimed in to voice his displeasure, tweeting: “People saying Princess Diana would be proud don’t know Princess Diana. She would have been furious that Harry had been so manipulated #SadDay.”
People saying Princess Diana would be proud don't know Princess Diana. She would have been furious that Harry had been so manipulated #SadDay
— The Royal Chef (@DarrenMcGrady) January 8, 2020
OK, Darren. Go off, I guess.
Not to mention comparing Meghan Markle to Wallis Simpson
And not only are people blaming Megs for what was probably a very mutual decision between her and her husband, they’re comparing her to another woman who was shunned by the royal family: Wallis Simpson. ICYMI, Simpson was the wife of the former Duke of Windsor, Edward VIII, (a.k.a. the current Queen’s uncle). In 1936, then-King Edward gave up the British throne to marry Simpson, an American divorcée (sound familiar?). This move was HUGE, because upon his abdication, the throne went to the next in line, Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George, and so gave us the royal family we have today. Like Markle, Simpson was similarly attacked by both the press and the royal family, so those comparisons make some sense.
American Divorcées: 2
House of Windsor: 0
— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) January 8, 2020
But there are also major differences between the two American women and their situations. First of all, Simpson was reportedly a Nazi sympathizer, which we know for a fact Markle is not.
Yes, Meghan Markle is just like Wallis Simpson the Nazi sympathizer.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 9, 2020
And secondly, it seems kind of ludicrous to compare Harry deciding to step back from royal life for the sake of he and his wife’s mental health, and their young child’s well-being, to a King giving up his throne. The comparison seemingly implies that both ladies forced their husbands to give up something we should see as desirable—royalty—but Prince Harry is a grown ass man who can make decisions for himself. And Markle didn’t pull him away. If anything, the British media and complacency from the royal family pushed Harry out.
Read this next: Every Time The Sussexes Rebelled Against Royal Rules
Which honestly just reinforces Meghan and Harry’s reason for stepping back in the first place
Fact: All the criticism and blame being thrown at Markle over the couple’s decision, while not at all surprising, just reinforces the reason the couple had to make this choice in the first place. She really can’t do anything right in the eyes of some of the public; Harry’s wife has only officially been part of the royal family for a year and a half, and look at all the criticism she’s faced over, um, everything: what she wears, what she writes in private letters, what type of airplane she takes. Imagine having to put up with that for the rest of your life?!
People, and yes, even public figures, shouldn’t have to. And obviously Harry and Meghan know that and won’t put up with it any longer. And honestly:
And seriously, we (and Piers Morgan) need to chill
Which is why everyone just needs to chill the fuck out. Because further harassment isn’t going to do anything except make you look like a colossal idiot (Cc Piers Morgan). If anything, Meghan and Harry’s decision has just proven that they’re going to stick together no matter what, and no amount of hate or criticism will effect that.