Harry and Meghan have appeared in public together in the UK for the first time since they announced they would quit royal duties and make a new life in Canada.
The service marks the end of a two-month drama that began when the couple announced plans to walk away from their roles as senior members of Britain’s royal family and into a world where they will have to earn a living, pay their own way and even open some doors for themselves.
It’s uncharted territory for the House of Windsor, even as the family seeks to downsize.
“I think this is a blow because I don’t think (the Windsors) would have envisaged that the slimmed-down monarchy would have actually meant that there was no role for Meghan and Harry,” said Pauline Maclaran, co-author of “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture.” “I mean, they really brought a new dimension to the royal family brand.”
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
Less than two years ago, Harry and Meghan were seen as a golden couple that would help extend the royal family’s appeal to a new generation. Their wedding on May 19, 2018, united a grandson of 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth II with the former Meghan Markle, a bi-racial American actress who had starred for seven years on the U.S. television series Suits.
George Clooney, Serena Williams and Elton John attended their wedding at Windsor Castle, which ended with the royal couple kissing for their flag-waving fans and riding through the streets in a horse-drawn carriage.
But the horses were barely back at the stable before pressures intensified on the couple, who became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day.
Even before the ceremony, Britain’s tabloid newspapers featured stories about a rift between Meghan and her father. When Meghan became pregnant, some commentators criticised her for jetting off to New York for a baby shower, a strange American tradition to many in Britain. Others lampooned Meghan’s politically correct pronouncements on the environment and women’s rights.
Meghan’s supporters saw racism at work. Harry publicly defended his wife and directed his anger at the intrusive media he has resented all his life because of the paparazzi’s role in chasing his mother, Princess Diana, on the night in 1997 when she died in a Paris car accident.