Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are embarking on one last tour of official royal duties in the U.K. before they step down as senior members of the royal family on March 31, 2020. Their so-called “farewell tour” runs from March 5 until March 9, and it marks the first time that Meghan and Harry have appeared in public together since dropping the “Megxit” bombshell in January 2020.
That being said, this isn’t “goodbye” forever. Markle and Harry are expected to continue visiting the U.K. for work on a regular basis, in part, because they remain “1000% committed to their patronages,” The Guardian reports. Nonetheless, the fact that the couple is stepping-down is a major moment for the royal family. The Sussexes have already set up their new home base in North America, with Markle flying back to the U.K. from Canada to complete these final royal engagements for the queen.
While Markle seems ready to cut ties, Harry is reportedly having a tough time with it all, according to Vanity Fair. For the down-to-earth prince, stepping back from the royal family is bittersweet. While he can finally have the low-key, regular family life that he’s always wanted, to do so, he must also relinquish some things that he deeply values, including the close proximity to his family and his official ties to the military.
Here’s what’s going on with Harry’s farewell tour and why he may be having a hard time saying goodbye.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will celebrate one last hurrah with the Queen
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s farewell tour began with an appearance at the Endeavour Fund Awards for wounded veterans at London’s Mansion House on March 5, 2020, per the Evening Standard. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are also slated to attend the Mountbatten Festival of Music. On March 8, 2020, Markle will appear at an event to celebrate International Women’s Day. The tour will end with a Commonwealth Day Service with the Queen and other members of the royal family at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2020. That service will mark the Sussexes’ final royal engagement with the Queen. Politicians and ambassadors from all around the globe will be there to bear witness to the special moment.
The Sussexes had originally hoped to continue representing the Queen despite their new financial independence, but that won’t happen, as per their final agreement with the Queen. They also won’t retain their HRH titles. Already, Harry has prepared for the shift. During an appearance at a summit in Edinburgh in February 2020, he told his fellow delegates to “just call me Harry” (via Vanity Fair).
The Sussexes have been all smiles during their public appearances so far. A source close to the couple told The Guardian that they’re feeling “positive and excited” about the future, and they’re in “great form.” However, one of Prince Harry’s close friends has revealed that behind the scenes, this transition is more difficult than it looks.
This is an 'emotional time' for Prince Harry
One of Prince Harry’s oldest friends told Vanity Fair that this is “an emotional time for him in many ways,” saying “I think in many ways it’s bittersweet. He’s always wanted to have a regular life and to get away from the spotlight, and that’s what he’s doing, but it basically means walking away from his family.” The source added, “Harry’s a loving loyal guy so that will be very hard for him.” Ken Wharfe, who used to work as Princess Diana’s bodyguard and watched Harry and Prince William grow up, agreed, adding that there is a “genuine sadness over what he’s letting go.”
Not only is Harry distancing himself from his family, but the queen’s Megxit terms also require him to relinquish his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines, the “highest rank of his honorary military titles,” per The Guardian. This step is likely difficult for Harry, who spent 10 years in the army and remains passionate about working with veterans. At the Endeavour Fund Awards, he told wounded and sick army members that he was “deeply proud to have served alongside you as Captain Wales” (via Newsweek). “A lot of you tonight have told me you have my back, well I’m also here to tell you I’ve always got yours.”
The queen left an 'open door' for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Shortly after the Commonwealth Day Service, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expected to return to Canada, where they left their son, Archie. While the Sussexes are making major changes, none of them are set in stone forever. These next 12 months will be a trial year of sorts, according to People. “Nothing is final,” a source told The Guardian. Royal historian and author Hugo Vickers added that “the queen has left the door wide open,” perhaps out of skepticism. “It’s almost as if she has seen that there is a good chance that their schemes won’t work,” Vickers said.
Regardless of the rest of the royal family’s feelings about Harry’s choice to strike out on his own, it’s a decision that his late mom Princess Diana likely would have been proud of, according to Diana’s former bodyguard, Ken Wharfe. “Diana always said you have to make your own way in this family and Harry is doing that,” Wharfe said (via Vanity Fair). “I think she’d applaud him for what he’s doing but I think she would advise him to think very carefully about what he does next and to take some time. Harry has made the choice to go and now he has to start all over again and I suspect it’s going to be a long road.”
Luckily, he’ll have Markle by his side every step of the way.
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