© AFP/Ben Birchall
By Larissa Schwedes and Benedikt von Imhoff, dpa
London – The news hit the British royal family like a blow: Prince Harry and his wife, Duchess Meghan, break up. Goodbye, royal life with responsibilities and obligations. Hello, private life with independence and your own opinion. “After many months of reflection and discussion, we decided to find a new progressive role for ourselves in this institution,” wrote Harry and Meghan in early 2020 on Instagram. This Friday (January 8th) it will be a year since the two announced that they would withdraw from their royal duties and stand on their own two feet.
The Megxit, as the farewell was quickly called based on Brexit, fits only too well into the royal annus horribilis, the terrible year of 2020. Queen Elizabeth II, Harry’s grandmother, even threatens the two with a final break. Meghan and Harry now live in California with their son Archie. The royal family is divided by an ocean. And felt a world.
What has happened since then? An annual balance sheet in seven chapters:
👑 BREAK WITH TRADITIONS
The point of the Megxit was to do things differently from what is normally the norm for royals. Nevertheless, it regularly makes headlines when the couple actually breaks with royal traditions and breaks new ground. In the US election, for example, numerous American media reported when 39-year-old Meghan threw her ballot into the ballot box. Members of the royal family traditionally do not vote in elections – they have no opinion of their own.
👑 SOCIAL VEIN
Patronage here, appeal for donations there: Charitable projects are one of the core tasks of a royal. Harry and Meghan want to keep the social streak. Under the umbrella of their non-profit organization Archewell, they want to bundle educational programs and initiatives with a focus on topics related to health and general well-being. The name, which is probably not by chance reminiscent of son Archie, is officially a combination of the ancient Greek word “ark” as a source of action and “well” as a rich source.
👑 MILLIONAL DEALS
Harry and Meghan are likely to have come a lot closer to their goal of being financially on their own two feet. This is ensured by deals worth millions with the streaming platforms Netflix and Spotify, on which they want to release films, series and podcasts. The Netflix contract alone was worth more than 100 million pounds (110 million euros). Critics emphasize that the deals were by no means worked out themselves – without the famous name and celebrity status they would be hard to imagine. With their own production company, Harry and Meghan want to produce documentaries, feature films and offers for children for Netflix. With the money, the couple were able to repay £ 2.4 million for the renovation of their UK residence, Frogmore Cottage.
Just before the turn of the year, the couple made their podcast debut. “We want to honor the compassion and kindness (of people) who have helped so many people get through,” said Harry, 36, at the beginning of the 33-minute episode. They chatted about the past Corona year with guests like Elton John and even a mini-appearance by their son Archie.
👑 TRANSITIONAL PHASE
Similar to Brexit, there is also a transition phase with Megxit. The agreement with the royal family provided for the process to be assessed after a year and an agreement on how it would proceed. It is about the couple doing without the lucrative “Sussex Royal” brand and the title “Royal Highness”. Palace insiders, however, already suspected that with the Netflix and Spotify deals a return to the ranks of the royals was almost impossible. In the long run, the couple could not pick the best of two worlds, according to critics.
Harry and Meghan have had a bitter argument with the tabloids for years. The feud is even considered to be one of the main reasons behind the couple’s departure. In a statement, Harry remembered the death of his mother Princess Diana, who had also suffered from the constant shadow of the paparazzi and court reporters. “I lost my mother and now I see my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces,” wrote the prince. Meghan’s skin color and her Afro-American roots had repeatedly played a role in the press, sometimes with racist undertones. Harry and Meghan had sued several times against individual media.
In Great Britain, Harry and Meghan were followed at every turn by the press and had to endure how others portrayed them in public. Since the Megxit, the couple has increasingly focused on self-presentation. Whether video statement, newspaper article or professional streaming content: Harry and Meghan want to determine for themselves how the world perceives them. And they take that very seriously. The two only invited a small group of selected photographers to a small ceremony in the USA on memorial day – there was criticism from both the media industry and royal circles.
Part of the staging is also a very large, very consciously arranged openness. Meghan reported in the New York Times in November emotionally about a miscarriage. Her words have been recognized around the world for paying attention to this still taboo subject.
The corona pandemic has made the couple’s departure a pretty tough megxit: Even over Christmas, a reunion with the royal family was not possible due to travel and contact restrictions. When the situation will relax and a trip to the old homeland comes into question, should be in the stars.