Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Likely to Lose Their Official Royal Roles Soon: Sources
Most insiders now expect that the couple will lose the royal patronages — which represent their involvement with numerous U.K. charities — that were given to the couple by Queen Elizabeth. Harry is also expected to lose his honorary military appointments. (They were held last year and have not been passed on to other members of the royal family.)
Final decisions have yet to be confirmed, but events are moving faster than initially thought. Rather than wait until March 31, when the probation period since the couple left full-time royal work comes to a close, PEOPLE understands the decision will now come down sooner. Although the couple no longer use their coveted His/Her Highness titles, they are expected to retain them — along with their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles.
It is believed that the couple — who are celebrating the news that they are expecting a sibling for son Archie — will be asked to relinquish their royal patronages: those that are in the gift of the Queen, 94. For Harry, 36, that includes the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Football League and the London Marathon. For Meghan, 39, it is the National Theatre.
Former Army captain Harry will be most upset about losing his honorary military appointments and has intimated that he would love to keep them, the Daily Telegraph reported earlier this month.
Reports also indicate there is a question mark over their roles as President and Vice-President of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust and Meghan's role as patron the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
A close royal insider says that whatever the final decision regarding his military and Commonwealth appointments, "Harry will always be a great ambassador for this country."
Palace sources have told PEOPLE that the challenge of keeping the royal roles stems from the couple's commercial relationships with the likes of Netflix and Spotify — partnerships that have helped them achieve their dream of becoming financially independent. However, the Queen's view is that members of the royal family can't be "half in, half out" — that is, representing the Queen and the U.K. while also pursuing personal financial goals. A source adds, "It was clear to her from the start that a hybrid role is not an option."
Queen Elizabeth has also has had to balance her role as grandmother and great-grandmother. After the couple worked out details of their exit at the historic Sandringham Summit, she released a rare public statement of support.
"My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family," she said. "Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family."
A royal insider told PEOPLE, "One thing about the Queen is she has to manage being grandmother but also how it affects the wider institution."
While he would be upset to lose his military titles, Harry would still have — and cherish — his Invictus Games Foundation, the Paralympic-style contests for service members which also incorporates the Endeavour Fund. He also retains his personal charity Sentebale, which he set up with friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa.
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If the arrangements outlined are confirmed in the coming weeks, Harry would also continue with WellChild, the charity supporting seriously ill children and their families and caregivers. Under the changes, Meghan would also still hold on to her ties with animal rescue charity Mayhew and Smartworks that helps women navigate the job application process.
Spokespeople for both Buckingham Palace and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had no comment.