Speculation swirls around Prince Harry and Meghan as they exit royal roles

Rachel Elbaum and Kelly Cobiella

They may have left the country— and their official royal roles — but the U.K. media storm surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan is going strong.

Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson and his American wife are still front-page news in the U.K. after Buckingham Palace announced Friday that the couple “confirmed” they wouldn’t be returning to their roles as working members of the royal family.

This weekend, the Sunday Times quoted unnamed sources close to Prince William, who reportedly said that the future king is “sad and genuinely shocked” by his brother and Meghan’s departure from royal life. The sources said William felt the couple had been “insulting and disrespectful” to the queen.

Neither the Sussexes nor Kensington Palace would comment on the report and NBC News has not been able to confirm it.

Image: Meghan, Prince Harry, and Prince William on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2018. (Tolga Akmen / AFP - Getty Images file)
Image: Meghan, Prince Harry, and Prince William on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2018. (Tolga Akmen / AFP - Getty Images file)

In a short statement on Friday, Harry and Meghan noted that regardless of their official roles, “we can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”

It mirrored the language used by the palace which said 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.”

The news that Harry and Meghan wouldn’t be returning to their royal roles came just days after reports that they would sit down for a tell-all interview with media mogul Oprah Winfrey. The couple, who now live in California, announced on Valentine’s Day that they were expecting their second child.

The furor also comes while the queen’s 99-year-old husband, Prince Philip, is in the hospital.

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It’s been a dramatic few years for Harry and Meghan, who first got engaged in November 2017. At the time, Meghan, who in 2015 described herself as mixed race, was hailed for bringing a breath of fresh air to the traditional royal family.

But things quickly went off track, with reports of a rift between brothers William and Harry, and a barrage of tabloid stories about Meghan’s relationship with her family.

In January 2020, Harry and Meghan announced that they wanted to “carve out a progressive new role” and take a "step back" as senior members of the royal family. They said then that they wanted to divide their time between the United Kingdom and North America, and even start paying their own bills.

Since moving to California, Harry and Meghan have have signed a deal to produce films, shows and documentaries for Netflix, and teamed up with streaming giant Spotify to produce and host podcasts through their newly formed audio production company Archewell Audio.

Associates say that in his new non-royal life Harry is busy and doing well.

“He seems better than he has done for a while, which is which is really great to see,” said Dominic Reid, the CEO of the Invictus Games, which Harry founded.

“I'd put some ideas out literally, on late, late, late on Friday night, and I've just literally had an email back with his views."

Harry is sixth in the royal line of succession, coming after his father, Prince Charles, his brother William and William’s three children.

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