"We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen."
The Queen has responded after Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle announced they wanted to “step back as senior members of the Royal Family”.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who were married on 19 May 2018 and have a baby, Archie, born on 6 May last year, want to be financially independent and divide their time between the UK and the birthplace of Meghan Markle in North America.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, took to Instagram to make their intentions known.
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
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“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry anticipated that there would be hundreds of questions following their groundbreaking decision to “step back as senior members of the Royal Family” and to “work to become financially independent,” so they laid out the details of their plan on their website, SussexRoyal.com.
“In 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made the choice to transition into a new working model. As they step back as senior members of the Royal Family and no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, they will become members of the Royal Family with financial independence which is something they look forward to. As The Duke and Duchess of Sussex prepare to make this change, the answers to the following questions aim to provide clarity on existing and future funding arrangements,” they wrote.
Why are The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing this new working model?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex take great pride in their work and are committed to continuing their charitable endeavours as well as establishing new ones. In addition, they value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing. For this reason they have made the choice to become members of the Royal Family with financial independence. Their Royal Highnesses feels this new approach will enable them to continue to carry out their duties for Her Majesty The Queen, while having the future financial autonomy to work externally. While the contribution from The Sovereign Grant covers just five per cent of costs for The Duke and Duchess and is specifically used for their official office expense, Their Royal Highnesses prefers to release this financial tie. More details on the specifics of the Sovereign Grant are outlined below.
What is the Sovereign Grant?
The Sovereign Grant is the annual funding mechanism of the monarchy that covers the work of the Royal Family in support of HM The Queen including expenses to maintain official residences and workspaces. In this exchange, The Queen surrenders the revenue of the Crown Estate and in return, a portion of these public funds are granted to The Sovereign/The Queen for official expenditure. This is outlined in the 2018-19 Annual Report of the Sovereign Grant which is linked below. Please note, this structure replaced The Civil List in 2012. More details on this can be found on The United Kingdom’s public sector information website: https://www.gov.uk/
Do any other members of the Royal Family hold a title and earn an income?
Yes, there is precedent for this structure and it applies to other current members of the Royal Family who support the monarch and also have full-time jobs external to their commitment to the monarchy.
Do The Duke and Duchess of Sussex earn income?
No, under the current structure and financing arrangements, they are prohibited from earning any income in any form.
Do The Duke and Duchess of Sussex benefit financially from their charitable and cause-driven work?
No, see above.
By becoming financially independent, will The Duke and Duchess of Sussex be cutting ties with the monarchy?
As working members of the Royal Family, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain dedicated to maximising Her Majesty’s legacy both in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth. They will continue to proudly do so by supporting their patronages and carrying out works for The Monarchy within the UK or abroad, as called upon.
Have The Duke and Duchess of Sussex benefited from public funding and tax benefits as members of the Royal Family?
Five per cent of the funding for their official office was provided through the Sovereign Grant starting in 2019 (more details on Sovereign Grant below). Public funding has never been used, nor would it ever be used for private expenditure by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who also do not receive any tax privileges.
How has the Office of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex been funded up to now?
Since the establishment of The Office of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, 95 per cent of the funding received for their Office expenditure is derived from income allocated by HRH The Prince of Wales, generated through the Duchy of Cornwall. This provision has been in place since Prince William and Prince Harry first established their offices in support of The Queen, and is the responsibility of The Prince of Wales. This information continues to be available on The Duchy of Cornwall website.
Where does the other five per cent come from?
As described above, the remaining five per cent of funding for the Office of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, covering costs associated with employing members of their official office, is received through the Sovereign Grant. During the course of 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made the choice to step back as senior members of the Royal Family and no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, thereby making them members of the Royal Family with financial independence. This phased approach will take time to transition in consultation with other senior members of the Royal Family, but Their Royal Highnesses are hopeful that this change is in the best interest for all and look forward to carrying out their duties to the monarch as well as their charitable work with financial autonomy.
How much does The British Royal Family cost each UK taxpayer?
The contribution from UK taxpayers towards the full overhead of the British Monarchy is equivalent to approximately £1 per head per year.
What is the return on the investment for this funding mechanism?
The British Royal Family generates an estimated £1.8 billion a year in tourism revenues for The United Kingdom.
How was the Official Residence of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Frogmore Cottage) funded?
The refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, the Grade-2 listed building in Windsor Home Park was funded by Her Majesty The Queen through the Sovereign Grant, reflecting the Monarchy’s responsibility to maintain the upkeep of buildings with historical significance (see above). Expenses related to fixtures, furnishings, and fittings at the official residence – which is owned by Her Majesty the Queen – were funded privately by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. As stated on The Official UK Government website: “The occupied Royal Palaces are held in trust for the nation by The Queen as Sovereign. Their maintenance and upkeep is one of the expenses met by the government in return for the surrender by the Sovereign of the hereditary revenues of the Crown (mainly the profit from the Crown Estate). The Sovereign Grant will allow the Royal Household to set its own priorities and thus generate economies. The occupied Royal Palaces are: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, the residential and office areas of Kensington Palace, the Royal Mews and Royal Paddocks at Hampton Court, Windsor Castle and buildings in the Home and Great Parks at Windsor.”
Why did The Duke and Duchess move to Windsor as their Official Residence?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose to move to Windsor for various reasons. Their previous residence of Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace could not accommodate their growing family. The option of Apartment 1 in Kensington Palace was estimated to cost in excess of £4 million for mandated renovations including the removal of asbestos (see details above on the Monarchy’s responsibility for this upkeep). This residence would not have been available for them to occupy until the fourth quarter of 2020. As a result, Her Majesty The Queen offered The Duke and Duchess the use of Frogmore Cottage, which was already undergoing mandated renovations, and would be available to move in before the birth of their son. The refurbishment cost equated to 50 per cent of the originally suggested property for their proposed official residence at Kensington Palace. It is for these reasons, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose Frogmore Cottage as their Official Residence.
Given their transition into members of the Royal Family with financial independence, will The Duke and Duchess of Sussex maintain their residence at Frogmore Cottage?
Frogmore Cottage will continue to be the property of Her Majesty the Queen. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to use Frogmore Cottage – with the permission of Her Majesty The Queen – as their official residence as they continue to support the Monarchy, and so that their family will always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom.
Does their future financial autonomy extend to covering the costs of travel?
All travel arrangements undertaken by The Duke and Duchess in their private time have always been and will continue to be paid for privately and not by UK taxpayers. With their transition to becoming members of the Royal Family with financial independence this will continue to be the case. Wherever possible and unless advised otherwise on security grounds, their logistical arrangements are undertaken via commercial air carriers, local trains and fuel-efficient vehicles, be it for official or personal travel.
Why do they carry out official overseas visits and who pays for it?
The Duke and Duchess proudly carry out official overseas visits in support of Her Majesty The Queen at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), as is the case for all members of the Royal Family. The length and location of these tours are determined by the FCO and the Royal Visits Committee. All Official overseas visits are in support of Her Majesty’s Government’s objectives and paid for by The Sovereign Grant as well as contributions from the host country, when appropriate.
Does their future financial autonomy extend to covering the costs of security?
The provision of armed security by The Metropolitan Police is mandated by the Home Office, a ministerial department of Her Majesty’s Government, responsible for security and law & order. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are classified as internationally protected people which mandates this level of security. As stated on gov.uk, “No breakdown of security costs is available as disclosure of such information could compromise the integrity of these arrangements and affect the security of the individuals protected. It is long established policy not to comment upon the protective security arrangements and their related costs for members of the Royal Family or their residences.”
In another post, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry shared their media policy.
“Following their decision to adjust their working model in 2020, it is appropriate to amend their media relations policy to reflect their new roles. Their sincere hope is that this change in media policy will enhance access and give The Duke and Duchess the ability to share information more freely with members of the public. The following section explains the new media relations policy of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” they wrote on their site.
How will The Duke and Duchess of Sussex handle media relations in the future?
In the spring of 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be adopting a revised media approach to ensure diverse and open access to their work. This adjustment will be a phased approach as they settle into the new normality of their updated roles. This updated approach aims to:
• Engage with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists;
• Invite specialist media to specific events/engagements to give greater access to their cause-driven activities, widening the spectrum of news coverage;
• Provide access to credible media outlets focused on objective news reporting to cover key moments and events;
• Continue to share information directly to the wider public via their official communications channels;
• No longer participate in the Royal Rota system.
What is the ‘Royal Rota’ system?
The Royal Rota was established more than 40 years ago as a way of giving UK print and broadcast media exclusive inside access to the official engagements of members of the Royal Family. Under this system, the rota, or pool, gives these British media representatives the opportunity to exclusively cover an event, on the understanding that they will share factual material obtained with other members of their sector who request it. The current system predates the dramatic transformation of news reporting in the digital age. The core group of UK outlets with Royal Rota access remain the predominant news source through which worldwide media organisations receive content on the official engagements of members of the Royal Family. These UK media outlets are: The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Times, and The Sun.
Why have The Duke and Duchess of Sussex elected to change their media policy now?
The Duke and Duchess have chosen to revise their media policy to reflect both their forthcoming change as members of the Royal Family with financial independence and their wish to reshape and broaden access to their work.
How does this new media policy relate to the UK’s Royal Correspondents?
Britain’s Royal Correspondents are regarded internationally as credible sources of both the work of members of The Royal Family as well as of their private lives. This misconception propels coverage that is often carried by other outlets around the world, amplifying frequent misreporting. Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by Royal Correspondents are, also, often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions.
What is The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s stance on media in general?
The Duke and Duchess believe in a free, strong and open media industry, which upholds accuracy and fosters inclusivity, diversity and tolerance. Both The Duke and Duchess have collaborated with media organisations including: Time Magazine, National Geographic, The Daily Telegraph, British Vogue, and various others. Their Royal Highnesses recognise that their roles as members of the Royal Family are subject to interest, and they welcome accurate and honest media reporting as well as being held to account if appropriate. Equally, like every member of society, they also value privacy as individuals and as a family.
Will they continue to have a social media platform?
Yes, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to have a social media platform. They look forward to continuing their use of social media and believe that their updated media approach will enable them to share more, with you, directly. Historically, the understanding with the Royal Rota expects that if Their Royal Highnesses were to release a photo that has never been seen, they would be expected to give the image to The Rota (of which four of the seven are UK tabloids) simultaneously or in advance of their own release. This formula enables these select publications to profit by publishing these images on their websites/front pages. Any breach in this understanding creates long term repercussions.
The current structure makes it challenging for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to personally share moments in their lives directly with members of the public (via social media for example), without first going through the filter of the Royal Rota. For more information on the rota system, please see top of this section.
Is this change of policy being adopted by other members of the Royal Family?
The changes outlined above apply to The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their son, Archie. They do not speak on behalf of the other members of The Royal Family in regards to their media relations policies.
The Queen released a statement only hours after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle posted their plan to “carve out a progressive new role”.
“Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” the Queen’s office of Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
The announcement by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle comes with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex embroiled in several lawsuits with the UK press. Meghan Markle spoke about being unable to live with the pressures of life as a Royal in a television interview last October. Meghan Markle said she was “existing, not living”.
“I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried,” Meghan Markle told Prince Harry’s friend Tom Bradby.
“But I think what that does internally is probably really damaging.”
Meghan Markle, who was raised in Los Angeles, California, was an actor who appeared as Rachel Zane in TV drama Suits from 2011 to 2017 when she met Prince Harry in London in July 2016. She is very close to her mother Doria Ragland, a yoga instructor living in View Park–Windsor Hills, California.
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