A year ago, Harry and Meghan left the Royals. His friend says he is now "heartbroken".

There's no need for formalities anymore. Honest. He's just 'Harry', and she's just 'Meghan'. New-ish parents, living a chill life in Santa Barbara, raising a kid a couple of dogs, and working on their podcast.

Where there were once eye-poking fascinators, pantyhose and stiff hemlines, now hang loose button-ups with rolled sleeves, even — look away now, Your Majesty — leather trousers and sandals.

Yes, a year on from their stunning resignation from the Royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are doing a thoroughly commendable impersonation of an ordinary Californian couple.

Watch: Before the royal resignation, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shared her struggles 'behind the scenes'.

Video via ITV.

On January 8, 2020, the pair announced they would be stepping down as senior Royals, knocking back their public paycheques and hoofing it across the Atlantic. The goal was to raise their then-8-month-old son, Archie, "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".

And that chapter reads well so far.

With 8700 kilometres between them and their former gig in the thousand-year-old family business, they've been free to pursue roles in an (arguably) healthier entertainment industry. 

It started with signing on to a top talent agency for speaking engagements and founding a production company called Archewell Studios Inc. 

Then in September came the multi-million dollar deal with Netflix "to develop scripted and unscripted series, film, documentaries, and children's programming". Oh, and another with Spotify’s Gimlet studio for their recently released podcast, At Home with Haz and Megs. Ok, ok, it's actually the much more disappointingly corporately titled Archewell Audio.

The first episode opened with, "Hi guys, I'm Harry," (Yes, sir. We know.) and featured guests including Elton John, James Corden, Stacey Abrams reflecting on 2020 and the power of compassion.


Sorry, tabloids.

Meghan and her snazzy leather pants. Image: NBC.

In fact, the biggest thing the couple has given to the glossies this year is a blown-out legal budget.

Both Harry and Meghan have filed lawsuits against British and American publications for alleged privacy breaches, including over unauthorised photographs of their little boy. Harry also recently reached a settlement in a suit over a Mail on Sunday article that accused him of snubbing his duty with the Royal Marines.

Meghan, meanwhile, is still engaged in a protracted fight with the same paper over its publication of a personal letter she sent to her father in 2018.

Could they be getting the message?

With the relative privacy she's achieved since her and Harry's self-imposed exile, Meghan has been able to wrestle back (at least some of) her profile and use it for advocacy. She narrated Disneynature's documentary Elephant in aid of conservation, spoke in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in November she generously shared her experience of a common but little-talked about trauma: pregnancy loss.

Listen: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex's decision to share her experience of miscarriage was all too familiar to Mia Freedman. Post continues below. 


In an essay published by The New York Times, Meghan wrote that she endured a miscarriage in July while at home with Archie.

"Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few," she wrote.

"Some have bravely shared their stories; they have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same. We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing."

The piece - with its honesty, empathy and nuance - is arguably Meghan's greatest public legacy to date, one that a year earlier would almost certainly have had to pass through a fine Royal filter.

As for the next part of the chapter.... The monarchy is due to undertake a review of Harry and Meghan's departure arrangements in March.

Journalist Tom Bradby, who is a friend of the couple and toured Africa with them for their documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, recently shed light on the Sussexes' happiness in light of their move to California. 

“I think they are feeling better, yes … So are they unhappy? No, I think they are content, the things they are doing they are quite excited by,” Bradby said on ITV's Love Your Weekend, according to People.

“I think he is heartbroken by the situation with his family. You don’t necessarily need to have knowledge to know that, but I think it is true.”

Bradby adds: “The situation with the family clearly isn’t ideal and it has been a very difficult year for them all, but are they unhappy out there? No, I don’t think that’s right, I think they are pretty happy actually, but I think they wrestle with their position in life, I think they all do. I think William does too, I don’t think he finds it easy.”

Who knows what will happen after the Monarchy's review in March, but there is speculation they could lose more family privileges - or should that be responsibilities?

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia.

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