What the Royal Statements Say, and What they Really Mean

Buckingham Palace (left) and a spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (right) both released statements today

The two statements issued by Buckingham Palace and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle three minutes apart today laid bare the ‘deep divisions’ between the Sussexes and the rest of Royal Family, royal experts said today.

The Palace referred to the Sussexes in a statement issued to all the media at 12.01pm as ‘much loved members of the family’ and said it was ‘saddened by their decision’ in failing to return as working royals.

It also revealed the Queen had ‘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’.

But Harry and Meghan hit back in their own statement three minutes later, saying they ‘remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world’, adding: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’

This statement was issued by their spokesman at 12.04pm only to their trusted media partners such as royal biographer Omid Scobie, the author of Finding Freedom, who was among the first to post it on Twitter.

Here, royal experts analyse the meanings behind the statements from the Sussexes and Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace (left) and a spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (right) both released statements today
The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Buckingham Palace today
The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement released by Harry and Meghan

The Buckingham Palace statement begins by outlining how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed to the Queen that they will not be returning as working members of the royal family. It adds:

‘Following conversations with the duke, 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.’

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said there is almost an unspoken sentence after that from the Queen: ‘A life of public service like I have led, like my husband has led at the age of nearly 100, like the rest of your family continue to lead but which you have decided to opt out of’. The Palace statement continues:

‘The honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by the duke and duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of the royal family.’

Royal expert Robert Jobson, author of the forthcoming book Prince Philip’s Century, says Harry, who served in the Armed Forces with distinction, is ‘understandably upset’ at losing his titles, military associations and patronages, ‘but what did he honestly expect?’

Harry will also no longer be Captain General of the Royal Marines, nor hold two other honorary military appointments.

Royal writer Penny Junor said: ‘It does draw a line. It’s hurtful but every divorce is hurtful. This is the decree absolute.

‘People lose things in a divorce. They lose pets, they lose houses, they lose children, and there was no way this was going to end well.’

The official statement goes on:

‘While all are saddened by their decision, the duke and duchess remain much loved members of the family.’ 

Mr Witchell said: ‘Of course they’re ”saddened”, as the statement says, they’re deeply disappointed I think with how matters have turned out.’

He added: ‘I sense a real sense of exasperation in these statements on both sides.’

Speaking to MailOnline this afternoon, royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said of the phrase ‘much loved’ in Buckingham Palace’s statement: ‘I think this means that Harry in particular, is very dear to the Queen.’

Speaking about the word ‘saddened’, he added: ‘Obviously there is disappointment by their decision not to return, though this was inevitable. Whereas it is Meghan who has undoubtedly been the driving force in this, Harry has changed and they are a united couple in this decision.’

The spokesman for Harry and Meghan said:

‘As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role.’

Mr Witchell told the BBC News Channel today the phrase ‘as evidenced by their work over the past year’ revealed a sense of the couple ‘thumbing their noses’, saying ‘don’t tell us how to lead our lives’.

Royal experts say that the section of the statement emphasising that the couple have ‘offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role’ reveals that they strongly disagree that the commitments they have made are incompatible with keeping royal patronages.

The statement from the couple goes on:

‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’

Royal commentators say the first sentence reveals very different attitudes to the concept of service.

Of the Sussexes’s reference to service being ‘universal’, Mr Fitzwilliams said: ‘The way the Sussexes see the world is different. They are less formal. It indicates to their former patronages that they are very unhappy to lose official links with them.’

Ms Junor said of the response from the Sussexes: ‘It sounds petulant. They sound disappointed and hurt and I can understand that.’

She added: ‘It’s sort of two fingers at the institution – the men and women that run it.

‘I don’t think it would be to the Queen because I imagine they think the Queen is being advised, which she is.’

Ms Junor described the conclusion to Megxit as the final step in a troubled divorce proceedings, following on from Harry and Meghan quitting as senior working royals last year.

Royal commentator Robert Jobson told MailOnline Harry and Meghan saying they remain committed to ‘duty and service to the UK and around the world’ and adding that ‘we can all live a life of service and that service is universal’ was ‘simply rude’.

‘It is almost laying down the gauntlet to the Queen and the Royal Family, implying their brand of modern royalty is better,’ he said.

Mr Jobson continued: ‘It is a sad but inevitable consequence of Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit the royal family and live in America as private individuals that they are effectively now out in the cold.

‘They took a decision that they no longer wanted to commit full time to serve the Queen and monarchy, but felt they still had a role to play.

‘I am afraid after a year in which the Queen hoped the dust would settle, which left the door open should they change their minds, the Queen, on advice, has decided that the door has to be firmly shut.

‘Her Majesty’s decision gives clarity to a confusing situation and in my opinion the only course she could take. But there is a cool and hidden anger there too in her statement.’

He added that the fact they released the statement while Prince Philip is recovering in hospital is ‘remarkable too and speaks volumes’.

Mr Jobson continued: ‘The Palace statement makes the distinction between Crown and Family. The Queen acknowledges that they are loved as members of her family. But that does not hide the fury over their decision to give an interview to Oprah that will inevitably open up old wounds.

‘The interview is clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back. What astonishes me is Harry and Meghan’s frankly rude response.

‘They seem hell bent on undermining the Queen’s decades of duty and service, and that of the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales as well as other working royals, with their flippant and petulant remark.

‘To say they remain committed to ”duty and service to the UK and around the world” and adding that ”we can all live a life of service and that service is universal” is simply rude.’

He said that Harry’s title the Duke of Sussex, a royal dukedom, and his position in the line of succession should also be removed.

Mr Jobson added: ‘I feel that should be for members of the Royal Family who are committed to and working for the institution. It is not, after all, about personalities.

‘I feel sorry for the Queen, but also for The Prince of Wales – who must be torn emotionally by his son’s rogue behaviour – and Prince William who now has to go forward bearing a much greater load, he had hoped to share with his brother.

‘The Sussexes seem only concerned with their feelings and how events impact on them.

‘Harry, who served in the Armed Forces with distinction, is understandably upset at losing his honorary titles and military associations and patronages. But what did he honestly expect?

‘Being a member of the royal family is a life time commitment. It comes with great privileges but also great responsibilities.

‘Harry and Meghan have decided to walk away from the royal family and meeting those responsibilities. It is a price they have to pay.

‘Harry and Meghan talk a lot about respecting the Queen. It’s time they showed it with their actions not just empty words.’

And BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell told the BBC News Channel today: ‘I sense a real sense of exasperation in these statements on both sides.

‘The statement from Buckingham Palace issued at midday after a conversation ‘with the Duke of Sussex, the Queen has written, confirming it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.

‘There’s almost an unspoken sentence which doesn’t appear in the statement after that: ”A life of public service like I have led, like my husband has led at the age of nearly 100, like the rest of your family continue to lead but which you have decided to opt out of”.

‘Of course they’re ”saddened”, as the statement says, they’re deeply disappointed I think with how matters have turned out. And then the Sussexes’ statement which concludes with these couple of phrases ”we can all live a life of service. Service is universal”.

‘Isn’t there just a sense there of thumbing their noses, ”don’t tell us how to lead our lives”. Harry I think will now perhaps finally realise the implications of the decision that they have taken, that it is not possible to do both – to have one foot in the Royal Family, and another foot outside.

‘That is what the Queen has insisted on and that is what this statement from Buckingham Palace means.’

Mr Fitzwilliams said: ‘The statement from Buckingham Palace about Harry and Meghan’s future status and Harry and Meghan’s response highlights very different attitudes to the concept of service.

‘The original statement from the Palace last January marking the Sandringham Agreement, was accompanied by a warm personal statement from the Queen.

‘Here the Palace clearly feels that being based in California, with the commitments they have made and will make to Netflix, Spotify, the Harry Walker Agency and their non-profit charitable organization, Archewell, is incompatible with retaining royal patronages.

‘The Sussexes reply makes clear that they disagree and the tone of the statement shows that they strongly disagree.’

Mr Fitzwilliams also told MailOnline it was ‘enormously sad’, adding: ‘The Sussexes lasted less than two years as senior working royals and no one expected them to return. However, it was thought possible that they might retain Meghan’s patronages and, most particularly, Harry’s military links which mean so much to him.

‘As a veteran of two tours of duty in Afghanistan, who found solace in the army during the years after his mother’s tragic death, and also as the founder of the enormously successful Invictus Games, he will feel that he has lost a large part of his life, owing to the choice he has made as to with whom and how that life is to be lived.

‘The royal family have not forgotten how brutally they were treated when the Sussexes announced they were stepping back last January and caused a crisis which led to the Sandringham Agreement though they made clear they were not happy with that either.

‘These are deep divisions and the forthcoming 90-minute interview with Oprah is being given by the couple to a worldwide audience against this background.

‘The discussions which have led to today’s announcements may well not have amiable. However, what the Sussexes choose to reveal of their royal life on Oprah in front of a global audience, may make for extremely uncomfortable viewing for the royal family.’

It comes after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were stripped of their prestigious patronages, with their decision to walk away from the monarchy and move to the US to pursue personal and financial freedom coming at a cost.

Harry will lose his roles as Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands’ Small Ships and Diving.

The decision came after Harry held talks with his grandmother the Queen and other senior royals ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Sussexes formally stepping down as working royals on March 31.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Mark Duell