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In the year since Prince Harry and Meghan announced they were quitting their royal roles, life has changed for us all – but how has it changed for them?
On January 8, 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they were leaving The Firm to seek privacy – and their fortune – elsewhere.
The bombshell blindsided the Queen and threatened to destabilise the very fabric of the monarchy.
In the days that followed, the Queen and her heirs, Princes Charles and William, ordered a series of crisis talks to deal with the wantaway couple, forcing Harry to a Sandringham Summit at the royals’ Norfolk estate.
What is your view on Harry and Meghan, one year on? Have your say in the comment section
Meghan and Harry volunteering in Los Angeles last summer
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The emergency meeting ended with the Queen reluctantly granting her grandson and his wife permission to step down as senior royals.
Agreements were put in place alongside a 12-month review of the thrashed-out agreement, in which they promised to “continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty” while getting their independence.
Here we look at what has happened to the couple and 20-month-old son Archie in the 12 months since, and what lies ahead…
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Three house moves between three countries – from Frogmore Cottage in Windsor to the Canadian wilderness and on to the paparazzi capital of the world a stone’s throw from Hollywood.
Harry and Meghan plotted their escape from The Firm from a remote estate on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada – a far cry from where they would end up putting down roots in the millionaire’s playground of Montecito, California.
As coronavirus lockdowns were enforced around the world, the couple fled the Commonwealth country to stay rent free at movie producer Tyler Perry’s £15million mansion in the US.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex handed Frogmore Cottage over
(Image: David Dyson)
They soon bought a £11million home near celebrity pals Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.
With a reported £100million from Netflix and £30m from Spotify, the couple have more than achieved the financial independence they sought.
But courtiers are privately concerned by the rate at which they are signing deals, and whether they will be able to “uphold the values of Her Majesty” and the institution as they vowed last year. Meghan’s personal investments have also “raised eyebrows” in royal circles.
The couple glow in relaxed video interview at home in October 2020
The vegan coffee Meghan invested in was advertised by Oprah Winfrey to her 19 million Instagram followers, with a cryptic caption including a crown emoji.
A royal source said: “It’s hard to see how any of this fits in with the promises and there’s a lot up for discussion.”
After months of largely operating away from the spotlight, Harry and Meghan announced the launch of their new charitable foundation Archewell.
Laying wreath at cemetery on November 8, 2020
(Image: Getty Images)
Described as “an impact-driven non-profit” whose “core purpose is to uplift and unite communities”, it has an arm connected to their Spotify deal, Archewell Audio, understood to have netted them £30million.
The couple were also seen in Los Angeles last year handing out food parcels during several public outings with a privately hired photographer.
Relations with the royals
Harry and Meghan’s dealings with the royals they left behind have been limited to phone and video calls amid the pandemic.
Tense with William and Kate in March 2019
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
The couple have kept in touch with the family and exchanged gifts between William and Kate’s three children and their son Archie.
Prince Charles has also worked hard to keep in touch with his son, although royal sources have suggested it was “noted” how he was not mentioned on the couple’s new Archewell website.
The home page features a picture of a young Harry on the shoulders of his mother Princess Diana, alongside an image of Meghan and her mum Doria with the text: “I am my mother’s son. And I am our son’s mother.”
Harry could not meet with the Queen this month as planned
(Image: Getty Images)
Harry was due to return to the UK before the 12-month review deadline on March 31, but his plans have been dashed with the new coronavirus lockdown.
The prince still plans to return in the spring for several major events, including the unveiling of a commemorative statue at Kensington Palace of Princess Diana on July 1.
He has worked on it with William since 2017.
Meghan's miscarriage bravery
Meghan with son Archie
In November the 39-year-old duchess bravely opened up about losing her second child while pregnant in July.
In a heart-wrenching letter in The New York Times she described how she was changing Archie’s nappy at the family home in Los Angeles when she “dropped to the floor” in pain.
She wrote: “I knew, as I clutched my first-born child, that I was losing my second.” She told how she watched “my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine”.
How the couple sent shockwaves through the royal world early last year
The article was widely praised for its searing honesty and ability to connect to millions of women and men around the world who have experienced baby loss.
The tragedy reportedly helped bring Harry and William closer, as the Duke of Cambridge reached out to his brother following the news.
Baby loss charity Tommy’s praised Meghan’s “honesty and openness”, saying that it had sent a “powerful message to anyone who loses a baby: this may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone”.
Meghan’s legal costs have soared to nearly £2million as she sues Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over a series of articles connected to a letter she wrote to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
She is awaiting a decision on January 19 at the High Court where her lawyers will argue for a summary judgment.
The ex-actress has also recently won a privacy case against a news agency that photographed her and Archie.
Harry is also locked in disputes with the Mail on Sunday over claims he turned his back on the military after leaving his role.
Sources say Harry is “absolutely committed” to keeping his military connections which he was forced to stand back from after quitting his royal role.