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There have always been signs that Prince Harry would exit the royal family.

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On Thursday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their plans to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family”.

In an unprecedented move, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared that they’ve decided to become financially independent and split their time between the UK 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 statement read.

“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.

“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.”

 

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Since the news broke, the mood in Britain has been mixed, to say the least.

As the news sunk in, the Royal Family’s apparent fury at the news came to light, as did questions about the couple’s wealth and income. For others, there was also the realisation of a stark double standard – that there was far more outrage being directed at Meghan and Harry, compared to Prince Andrew, who has been accused of sex crimes.

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On the other hand, many people argued that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are well in their right to exit the royal family.

Despite the obvious mix of opinions, however, the overwhelming rhetoric has been that the decision to leave was entirely made by Meghan.

In a post shared on Twitter, Piers Morgan, a longtime critic of Meghan, ripped into the 38-year-old for “splitting” Harry from the royal family.

But while the “blame” has solely been placed on Meghan in many cases, the signs were always there that Prince Harry was always going to leave the royal family.

In fact, even for years before Harry met Meghan, there were plenty of signs that indicated Harry’s wish to exit the royal family.

Prince Harry has hinted at an exit before.

Following Meghan and Harry’s announcement, an old interview from 2017 has resurfaced.

According to Mail on Sunday, Harry admitted in the interview that he once considered giving up his royal title.

In 2008, an Australian publication leaked Harry’s location while he was serving in the British Army. The leak meant that Harry’s time in Afghanistan was cut short.

“I felt very resentful,” Harry said, reflecting on the incident.

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“Being in the Army was the best escape I’ve ever had. I felt as though I was really achieving something. I have a deep understanding of all sorts of people from different backgrounds and felt I was part of a team,” he added.

“I wasn’t a Prince, I was just Harry.”

prince harry meghan markle canada
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in South Africa. Image: Getty.

The 35-year-old then explained that he struggled to find meaning in his position in the royal family before his deployment, as he came "very close" to having a breakdown.

"I felt I wanted out but then decided to stay in and work out a role for myself," he said.

"I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one, too," he added.

"We don’t want to be just a bunch of celebrities but instead use our role for good."

The Sussex and Cambridge split.

In March, Kensington Palace announced that the Cambridge and Sussex households would go their separate ways, with Harry and Meghan starting a new foundation while William and Kate kept the existing one.

The split came after months of rumours of a rift between the brothers as well as an unconfirmed report that Meghan and Kate had fallen out in the lead-up to Meghan and Harry's wedding.

In an ITV documentary, Harry appeared to confirm the rift with William, saying they were "on different paths."

"Stuff happens. But, look, we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers,” he said. "The majority of the stuff is created out of nothing but as brothers, you know, you have good days, you have bad days."

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Image: Getty.

In their statement, Meghan and Harry confirmed their intention to "carve out a progressive new role within this institution" while focusing on their forthcoming charitable foundation.

The split between the two households – and the 'royal rift' – was a prominent sign that Prince Harry was stepping back from the royal family.

As host of the Royally Obsessed podcast, Kaitlin Menza wrote for NBC: "The move might seem severe, but for royal watchers, it's been building for quite some time."

The ITV documentary.

In a raw and honest interview for an ITV documentary in October 2019, Meghan and Harry addressed the constant media scrutiny they have faced – particularly after welcoming their now eight-month-old son Archie.

In the interview, Meghan admitted that she was struggling behind the scenes.

“Look, any woman – especially when they are pregnant – you’re really vulnerable and so that was made really challenging, and then when you have a newborn – you know?” she told reporter Tom Bradby as she held back tears.

“And especially as a woman, it’s a lot. So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mum or trying to be a newlywed it’s, well…” she said.

In an interview in October 2019, Meghan Markle admitted that she was struggling behind the scenes. Post continues below.

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After the documentary aired, reports began to surface that Harry wanted to leave royal life behind.

"There's an acceptance that things haven't worked out with the Sussexes full-time in Windsor so they could have a second base in America," a source told The Sun at the time.

Prince Harry's response to the tabloid media.

For years, in a move that hasn't been replicated by his royal counterparts, Prince Harry has been known to speak out against the tabloid media.

As a child, Harry witnessed the relentless pursuit of his mum by the tabloid press, read the salacious stories printed about her and saw the intrusive photographs published without her consent.

And as he grew older, he learned that the fiery Paris car crash in which Princess Diana died may not have happened if paparazzi hadn't been chasing her.

When Harry began dating Meghan in late-2016, it didn't take long for the press to turn on her as well.

In fact, just a month after they publically started dating, Harry issued a rare statement, which included a plea to the media to stop the "wave of abuse and harassment" including "outright sexist and racist comments" against Meghan.

Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky, investigates what Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's exit means. Post continues below.

In the years since, Meghan's life has become the media circus Diana's once was, leading the couple to file a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday over the publication of a private letter Meghan wrote to her father.

“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been,” Harry wrote in a statement on their website.

Harry went on to compare the relentless pursuit of Meghan to that of his mother.

"Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.

"I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

Now, in a further move to protect his family, Harry is stepping away from the royal family entirely.

Feature Image: Getty.

What do you think about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision? Let us know in the comments.

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