“I expect the royals to make a clean break,” Phil Dampier, author of Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan In Their Own Words, tells New Idea exclusively.
“I don’t think the Queen will want to strip them of their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles – although personally I think she should – because she doesn’t want to make the situation worse.
“But she has made it clear that you can’t be half in and half out.
“I’m sure Prince Charles and Prince William will support her in this and are working behind the scenes to make it happen.”
This could come as a blow to the couple who are said to want to renegotiate the terms of the deal, especially with the impact of Coronavirus on some of their more ambitious plans including Harry and Oprah Winfrey’s Apple TV project – a series on mental health – which has been delayed until later this year.
Royal watchers, however, described any chance of future royal roles for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as dead in the water, suggesting that every one of the commercial deals done by the Sussexes has been a nail in the coffin when it comes to any kind of return to royal life, and their growing political activity – speaking out on issues like Black Lives Matter, the US election and women’s empowerment – going against the grain with the monarchy.
“By signing the deals with Netflix and Spotify worth millions, and by launching their Archewell project, Harry and Meghan look like they are cashing in on their royal status and using it to support causes they care about,” says Phil Dampier.
“That can’t go on and if they are going to set up a ‘rival court’ and rival charities, they must get on with it alone, without any connections to the British royal family.”
Of course, with several big royal events this year, Harry will no doubt want to return to the UK several times to celebrate with his family – for instance, it’s the Queen’s 95th birthday in April and he’s said to be invited to Trooping the Colour and Prince Philip’s 100th in June and he and Prince William are also unveiling a statue of Princess Diana to mark what would have been her 60th birthday on July 1.
But Phil Dampier says it wouldn’t surprise him if Meghan doesn’t travel to London with her husband for any of these events.
“She is now quite unpopular with a large section of the UK public, and she might prefer to stay at home with son Archie,” he tells.
“Obviously the Queen and Charles are devastated by this, and miss not only the Harry they once knew but also Archie, who may well grow up with an American accent hardly knowing them.”
The upcoming Megxit review won’t stop there, say experts – it will also have to deal with other unresolved issues between the family – in particular, what will happen to the Duke’s honorary military titles.
Harry’s forces appointments – including Captain General of the Royal Marines – were put on hold for a year after Megxit, and he is not allowed to take on any roles using them for the time being.
“Harry will definitely want to travel to Europe for the Invictus Games in late May and early June, but the Queen may want him to give up his military connections,” says Phil Dampier.
“Harry threatened legal action when it was suggested he had turned his back on the Royal Marines, but I can’t see how he can make much of a contribution as a patron of regiments when he’s on the other side of the world.”
“When the pandemic is over, people expect their commanders in chief to turn up at events, not just make Zoom calls,” adds Dampier. “So it’s hard to see how he can continue to be associated with the military, except for supporting the Games.”
The military is a bit of a sore subject for all concerned – with palace insiders saying the Queen took “only seconds” to decide she did not want to allow Harry to lay a wreath at the Remembrance Day service in November – a big deal for the Prince who was said to be deeply hurt by the snub.
In fact, Harry himself even made a personal request to Buckingham Palace, but courtiers denied it on the grounds that he is no longer representing the monarchy. In November, the Sussexes then released pictures of themselves laying floral tributes at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.
There are other issues at play too. The Queen is said to be upset with the Sussexes after Prince Charles was snubbed from their new Archewell campaign. Instead, a picture of Diana, Princess of Wales with son Harry on her shoulders, and an image of a young Meghan with her mother Doria Ragland grace the homepage of the Archewell website.
This resulted in many commentators criticising the couple for not including Prince Charles in the picture, despite his own charitable efforts including him setting up the Prince’s Trust to help vulnerable people.
A further source told the UK’s Daily Mirror that Prince William is “worried” about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry sharing a 2021 message about Princess Diana to their fans to mark the launch of the website.
In a joint statement, called a “letter for 2021” which overlays the pictures of the late princess, the couple write: “I am my mother’s son. And I am our son’s mother. Together we bring you Archewell.”
Phil Dampier, however, disagrees that William will be upset by Harry’s tribute to his late mother.
“I’m told that Harry’s relationship with William is slowly thawing,” he says. “And they will want to put up a united front at the unveiling of the statue of their mother.”
However, although their personal relationship is improving, William as the future King realises that Harry is finished as a working royal.
“It’s very sad but I’m sure William, who has grown much closer to his father, is pushing behind the scenes for Harry to be sidelined,” adds Dampier.
“They may come up with a fudge to see them through the next year, or they may try to keep the new deal secret, but I have no doubt that the Queen, Charles and William have sadly come to the conclusion that Harry and Meghan must now go their own way, effectively as non-royals.”
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