Meghan and Harry officially announced that they will not be returning to their roles as working members of the royal family

By Stephanie Petit
February 19, 2021 10:27 AM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are receiving thanks from their former royal patronages.

Buckingham Palace confirmed in a statement on Friday that the couple — who left full-time royal work in March 2020 — will officially not be returning to their royal roles. As part of stepping down, they will no longer keep their patronages (their royal involvement with numerous U.K. charities).

Trusts and patronages that will revert to Queen Elizabeth, 94, include the Queen's Commonwealth Trust, the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Football League, the Royal National Theatre, and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Prince Harry will also lose his honorary military appointments.

In their own statement about the news, Harry and Meghan's office said that the pair "remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role."

"We can all live a life of service. Service is universal," the statement read.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty

Several of the patronages shared their gratitude to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on social media amid the announcement.

Prince Harry, 36, served as President of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust with Meghan, 39, serving as Vice President. The organization, which supports youth empowerment in Commonwealth countries, said in a statement that they felt "lucky" to have worked with the couple.

"They enabled us to make fast progress and have helped us to take the organisation to readiness for its next phase," they wrote. "We are glad they remain in our circle of supporters."

The National Theatre — one of four patronages Meghan took on after her marriage to Prince Harry, which was handed down to her by the Queen, who had previously been the royal patron — shared a statement on Twitter saying they were "very grateful for the support offered by the Duchess of Sussex."

"The Duchess championed our work with communities and young people across the UK, and our mission to make theatre accessible to all," they wrote.

The Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League thanked Prince Harry for serving as their patrons, sharing photos of the Queen's grandson at some of their events over the years.

Meghan will retain animal welfare charity Mayhew and Smart Works Charity, which provides women with professional attire for career opportunities. Meanwhile, Prince Harry will continue to work with WellChild, which aids sick children and their families, his personal charity Sentebale, which he set up with friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa, and the Invictus Games Foundation, the Paralympic-style contests for service members he created.

In a statement shared on Twitter, the Invictus Games said Harry "remains fully committed" to the Games.

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"His military service and experience, combined with his genuine compassion and understanding for those who serve their countries has raised awareness of wounded, injured and sick service personnel and the role they continue to play in society," the Invictus Games said. "His work has had an extraordinary impact on the way in which disability, service, and mental health is viewed around the world. And he has been instrumental in changing the lives of many."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attending the Commonwealth Day Service in the U.K. in March 2020.
| Credit: Shutterstock

Buckingham Palace said in Friday's statement: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family."

"Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service," the statement added.

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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Archie in South Africa in September 2019.
| Credit: Henk Kruger/AP/Shutterstock

Although Prince Harry and Meghan no longer use their coveted His/Her Royal Highness titles, they will retain them — along with their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles.

"While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family," the Buckingham Palace announcement said.

Meghan and Prince Harry moved to California, settling in the Montecito neighborhood of Santa Barbara, last year with their son Archie, who will turn 2 in May. They announced on Sunday that they are expecting their second child.