A Complete Timeline of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Exit from Royal Life

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex first announced their intention to "step back" from their roles as senior members of the royal family in January 2020

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's departure from their roles as working members of the royal family didn't come all at once.

Buckingham Palace announced on Feb. 18, 2021, that "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." The statement came one year and one month after Meghan and Prince Harry initially shared their plans to "carve out a progressive new role within this institution."

Later, the couple made headlines when they spoke out about their experiences as working royals in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, as well as in their Netflix docuseries, Harry and Meghan.

In April 2023, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Henry would attend King Charles' coronation, though Meghan would be staying behind in California with their children. Ahead of the ceremony, a source told PEOPLE that the father and son were having "positive conversations," and that the King is "pleased" his younger son will be there.

That same month, Meghan's friend and makeup artist Daniel Martin spoke about how the Duke of Sussex is enjoying life in the United States. "Harry has definitely found his vibe and is very settled in California. But he does miss home," he told PEOPLE.

See how Meghan and Prince Harry's step down from their royal roles unfolded.

For more on the Royals, listen below to the episode of PEOPLE Every Day!

October 2019: Meghan and Prince Harry announce holiday "break"

The first hint of Meghan and Prince Harry leaving their working royal roles came in October 2019, when the couple announced they were taking six weeks off to spend some valuable "family time" together and with son Archie Harrison, who was born in May 2019.

The family of three spent the final weeks of 2019 in Vancouver Island, Canada, celebrating the holidays privately.

January 8, 2020: Meghan and Prince Harry reveal intentions to "step back" from working royal roles

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan, Harry
Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Just one day after their visit to Canada House in London to thank them for their warm hospitality and support during their stay on Vancouver Island, Meghan and Prince Harry announced they intended to "step back as senior members of the Royal Family" and split their time between the U.K. and North America.

"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," they said in a statement. "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."

January 13, 2020: Sandringham Summit

Prince Harry, his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William met with Queen Elizabeth's at Sandringham, her country home, to discuss Harry and Meghan's announcement in what became known as the "Sandringham Summit."

After the 90-minute discussion, the Queen, 94, released a rare and emotional statement.

"Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family," she said.

"My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family," she continued. "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."

The monarch also announced there would be a "period of transition" as they fully fledged out their new roles. It's later announced that there would be a one-year probational period, after which the royal family will revisit the agreement.

Royal historian and biographer Robert Lacey told PEOPLE of the Queen's statement: "It was incredibly personal. I can't recall a royal statement where one gets the sense so much of the Queen herself speaking. Using phrases like 'my family and I' is very moving. It clearly shows her wish to resolve everything."

March 2020: Meghan and Prince Harry make their final round of royal engagements

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Commonwealth Day 2020. Chris Jackson/Getty

It's announced that March 31 will officially mark Meghan and Prince Harry's exit from royal life and the beginning of their one-year transitional period. In the first week of the month, the couple return to the U.K. for their final royal outings and visits to their patronages.

On March 5, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped out for the annual Endeavour Fund Awards in London, followed by an outing at the Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall on March 7.

Harry and Meghan then joined Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Charles and other royals at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 8.

They also share their final post on their @SussexRoyal Instagram page on March 30.

March 2020: Meghan and Prince Harry relocate to California

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Chris Jackson/Getty

The couple moved to Meghan's hometown of Los Angeles with son Archie, staying at Tyler Perry's Beverly Hills mansion.

"This is what Meghan and Harry have always wanted — to create their own life," a royal insider told PEOPLE. "It's got to feel like an immense relief to get out of the U.K. and go down their own path"

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Meghan and Harry were spotted delivering meals to those in need in their new hometown.

"What Meghan said is she wanted to show Harry Los Angeles through the eyes of philanthropy. It's just beautiful," executive director Richard Ayoub of Project Angel Food told PEOPLE. "There's obviously a great deal of love and selflessness between them."

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

February 19, 2020: Meghan and Prince Harry confirm they won't return as working royals

Harry and Meghan Markle announce pregnancy
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's pregnancy reveal on Feb. 14. Misan Harriman

Less than a week after the couple announced that they were expecting their second child, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple will officially not be returning to their royal roles. The announcement came a few weeks shy of their 12-month review period.

Meghan and Harry will no longer keep their patronages (their royal involvement with numerous U.K. charities). Further, Prince Harry will lose his honorary military appointments, which will subsequently be redistributed "among working members of The Royal Family."

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.

March 9, 2020: Meghan and Prince Harry reunite with royal family for first time since announcing they were stepping down

Prince Harry and Meghan joined other members of the royal family for the annual Commonwealth Day service, held at Westminster Abbey. The event marked the first time the couple publicly reunited with Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Charles since announcing they were stepping down as working royals and moving to Canada.

July 2020: Meghan and Prince Harry purchase Santa Barbara home

Over the summer, Meghan and Prince Harry moved to a nine-bedroom mansion, purchased for a reported $14 million, in the Montecito neighborhood of Santa Barbara, about 95 miles north of Los Angeles.

"They were craving a smaller community and a slower pace — Montecito is very mellow, a charming little town and the Santa Barbara [area] offers an ideal lifestyle that they're looking forward to," a source close to the couple told PEOPLE.

They provided glimpses inside their new home through virtual calls with various charities, including the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.

During this time, they also announced partnerships with Netflix and Spotify.

March 7, 2021: Meghan and Prince Harry's Oprah interview

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey. Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions

Meghan and Prince Harry sat down with Winfrey to discuss their time as working royals and their experiences since stepping down. In the interview, Meghan said that, within the royal family, there were "concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie's] skin might be when he's born."

The former actress also spoke about "being silenced" by the royal family, explaining she was directed to give a "no comment" on questions directed her way once the couple's relationship was public.

"That was really hard to reconcile because it was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected, but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family," Meghan told Winfrey. "They weren't willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband."

June 2-5, 2022: Meghan and Prince Harry attend Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee

The Queen's 70-year reign was celebrated with parades, a concert at the palace and more in June 2022. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex traveled from California to the U.K. for Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee, but they weren't publicly seen spending time with Harry's immediate family members.

On June 3, 2022, the royal family attended a service of thanksgiving honoring Queen Elizabeth at St. Paul's Cathedral. Harry and Meghan sat in the second row alongside Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice and their husbands. Kate Middleton and Prince William, who sat in the first row, didn't make eye contact with the couple. When Prince Charles passed by Meghan and Harry's row, he was seen looking away.

September 10, 2022: Meghan and Prince Harry are seen greeting mourners with Kate Middleton and Prince William

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alberto Pezzali/AP/Shutterstock (13381171b) Britain's Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, left, and Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex walk to greet the crowds after viewing the floral tributes for the late Queen Elizabeth II outside Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England Royals, Windsor, United Kingdom - 10 Sep 2022
Alberto Pezzali/AP/Shutterstock

Following the Queen's death, Prince Harry and Meghan joined Kate Middleton and Prince William as they greeted well-wishers at Windsor Castle. The four left in the same car, driven by William. According to a royal source, William thought the walkabout to greet the crowds "was an important show of unity at an incredibly difficult time for the family."

While the former working royals' two children, Archie and Lilibet Diana, became entitled to royal titles after King Charles became monarch, no name changes were announced.

December 8, 2022: Meghan and Prince Harry's Netflix docuseries premieres

Harry & Meghan Netflix Documentary
Harry & Meghan. Netflix

In the first three episodes of their Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex opened up about their early relationship and royal life behind the scenes. The couple spoke about how the royal family was "impressed" by Meghan, but had reservations about her acting career.

Meghan did her best to blend in during the early days, opting to wear more discreet neutrals to avoid standing out among the other royals. "Most of the time that I was in the U.K., I rarely wore color. There was thought in that," she said.

The pair also got candid about their experiences with the U.K. paparazzi, with Harry revealing he tried to coach Meghan after their relationship was made public. However, the "wave of abuse and harassment" Meghan faced was unlike anything the prince had experienced.

The hounding by the press continued well past Harry and Meghan's nuptials. The couple eventually decided to take legal action against Associated Newspapers after a private letter from Meghan to her father was printed. The stress of that situation, Meghan revealed, caused her to miscarry.

"I believe my wife suffered a miscarriage because of what the Mail did," Harry said. "I watched the whole thing. Now do we absolutely know that the miscarriage was created caused by that? Of course, we don't."

He added: "[But] bearing in mind the stress that caused the lack of sleep and the timing of the pregnancy, how many weeks in she was, I can say from what I saw, that miscarriage was created by what they were trying to do to her."

December 15, 2022: Prince Harry says Prince William screamed at him over his decision to step back from royal duties

During the final three episodes of Netflix's Harry & Meghan, the couple talked in detail about their decision to take a step back from their royal duties — and the reactions from senior family members.

Harry shared that he had a "terrifying" confrontation with William and now-King Charles during the infamous Sandringham Summit.

"It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me, and my father say things that simply weren't true and my grandmother quietly sit there and sort of take it all in," he said.

Harry described his final engagements with the family in March 2020, particularly the Commonwealth service, as "cold" and "distant."

Unfortunately, the family tension was still very apparent at Prince Philip's funeral a year later.

"I've had to make peace with the fact that we're probably never going to get genuine accountability or a genuine apology [from my family]," the Duke of Sussex said. "My wife and I, we're moving on. We're focused on what's coming next."

January 2, 2022: Prince Harry says he won't return to a working royal role

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
John Lamparski/Getty

In a trailer released ahead of Prince Harry and Anderson Cooper's 60 Minutes interview, Anderson asked Harry if he would ever return as a full-time member of the royal family.

"No," Harry said simply, shaking his head.

A few days later, Prince Harry spoke to ITV News anchor Tom Bradby about whether or not he will attend the Coronation of his father, King Charles.

"If you are invited to the Coronation, will you come?" Bradby asked in a trailer for his interview with Harry.

"There's a lot that can happen between now and then," Harry said. "But, the door is always open. The ball is in their court. There's a lot to be discussed and I really hope that they're willing to sit down and talk about it."

February 9, 2023: A source says King Charles wants Prince Harry to attend his coronation

A source close to the royal household told PEOPLE that King Charles wants Harry to attend his May 6, 2023, coronation at Westminster Abbey.

"It is such a momentous occasion for Charles, and he would want his son to be at the coronation to witness it. He would like to have Harry back in the family," the source said. "If they don't sort it out, it will always be part of the King's reign and how he has left his family disjointed. He has had a reputation as a distant parent, and it would be awful for him for that to continue."

March 1, 2023: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are evicted from Frogmore Cottage

A spokesperson for Meghan and Prince Harry's Archewell Foundation confirmed to PEOPLE that the couple were asked to vacate their residence at Frogmore Cottage.

The following week, a source told PEOPLE that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex aren't trying to fight the decision, adding that the pair are happy to raise their children in California.

However, those close to the former working royals say the decision is "unfortunate" as Harry, Meghan and their kids utilized Frogmore Cottage when they visited the U.K.

April 12, 2023: Buckingham Palace confirms Prince Harry will attend King Charles' coronation without Meghan Markle

Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Harry will be present for his father and Queen Camilla's crowning ceremony at London's Westminster Abbey on May 6. However, Meghan and their children will not attend.

"Buckingham Palace is pleased to confirm that The Duke of Sussex will attend the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey on 6th May," the statement read. "The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet."

A friend of Harry's spoke to PEOPLE about the decision following the announcement. "At this point, it's become so personal," the insider said. "Maybe what they wanted wasn't achieved, but at the end of the day, he's going there to support his dad."

May 6, 2023: Prince Harry attends King Charles' coronation

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex arrives for the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey
Prince Harry. Andy Stenning - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry attended King Charles' crowning ceremony at Westminster Abbey, where he sat in the third row to watch the service.

While the Duke of Sussex returned home to California directly after the ceremony, the King was reportedly happy to have his younger son in attendance.

Colleen Harris, a former press secretary to the King and his sons, talked to PEOPLE about Harry's choice to attend the event. "He would have personally regretted it if he wasn't there to support his father. Speaking as a mother, [I believe] it was the right thing . . . and the King [was] delighted," she said.

Related Articles