UK

Prince Harry and Meghan 'step back': Your questions answered

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Image copyright Reuters

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's decision to "step back" as senior members of the Royal Family has generated interest across the world.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are said to have "blindsided" Buckingham Palace with the announcement, which the couple said came after "many months of reflection".

They said they intended to become financially independent while continuing to support the Queen.

But what does it mean for their future? Will the duke still be in the line of succession? And what if the couple split up? BBC royal correspondent Sarah Campbell answers readers' questions.


Will the Duke of Sussex keep his place as sixth in line to the throne? Valerie Bell

Succession to the throne in the UK is not only due to birth, but also legislation. It would take an Act of Parliament to remove a person from the line of succession.

Downing Street has so far said that questions on the duke and duchess's announcement are "for the royal household".

It is worth noting that, as the Cambridge family expands, Prince Harry will keep moving down the line of succession.

Will they keep their royal titles - and what does this mean for Archie? Hannah, Watford and Jonathan Selby

Archie has no title - that was his parents' decision when he was born. He is simply Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

There is no suggestion the duke and duchess wish to renounce their titles.

What will happen to Harry should the couple split? Stacey Browning

He remains a member of the Royal Family - stepping back from duties does not change that.

Moreover, what the couple plan to do has not been tried before, so there is no precedent to guide us.

Will the rule that non-EU spouses are not permitted to spend more than 90 days outside the UK in any 12-month period apply to Meghan? Nathan, Penrith

This rule applies to some applicants for British citizenship. We were told that Meghan was not going to be fast-tracked to get citizenship and it will take the same length of time for her as for anyone else. We are not aware she is a dual citizen as yet (as in, that she has a British passport).

Buckingham Palace did not respond when asked whether the duchess's citizenship application would be affected by the announcement.

Image copyright Getty Images

Could they have been offered better support to cope regarding the press? Susanna, Luton

Meghan has talked about the fact that, even though she was already in the public eye, she was not prepared for the huge press interest which came with marrying into the Royal Family.

We simply do not know how much support the duke and duchess have been given, so it is difficult to say whether they should have been given more.

Where does this leave the Invictus Games? Robert Higgins

The next Invictus Games is to be held this year in The Hague.

The Invictus Games Foundation - with Prince Harry as patron - was established to preside over the games and, as it is a separate entity, it will continue regardless of what happens with Prince Harry's status within the Royal Family.

It will remain one of his key commitments.

Image copyright Getty Images

How did Prince Edward manage to step back so successfully? John Weston

Prince Edward and his wife the Countess of Wessex are now both working members of the Royal Family with a busy schedule of engagements.

But they both experienced difficulties when pursuing careers in the private sector: Sophie worked for a PR firm that was caught in a sting by a national newspaper and she was recorded making comments about members of the Royal Family; Edward had little success as a television producer.

They both gave up their careers and are now full-time "working royals" paid for using income from the Duchy of Lancaster, the Queen's private income.

Image copyright Getty Images

How similar is the Harry and Meghan situation compared to Duke of Windsor and Mrs Simpson? Jennifer Rogers

Wallis Simpson was an American divorcee like Meghan Markle.

In 1936, it was considered the public would never accept a divorcee as Queen. Edward VIII - the Queen's uncle - had to choose between the throne and Wallis Simpson. He chose her, thereby relieving himself of his position and all royal duties.

Prince Harry and Meghan have said they wish to "step back" as senior royals suggesting they do intend to carry out some duties on behalf of the Queen.

This is their choice as opposed to a course of action they have no option but to follow. But - it is early days and it is really not clear yet how their part-royal, part-private roles will pan out.

What will happen to their house in Windsor, the refurbishment of which was funded by the public purse? Nancy Curtis

On their website, the couple say they will continue to use Frogmore Cottage - their home on the Windsor estate - with the permission of its owner, the Queen.

They say the cottage will be 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".

They add that the refurbishment of the cottage was planned well before they decided to move in and their decision to live there saved money when compared with the refurbishment of another property at Kensington Palace.

Image copyright Getty Images

Will the taxpayers still fund their houses and lifestyle? Margaret Rucklidge

On their website, Harry and Meghan say they will no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, "thereby making them members of the Royal Family with financial independence". However, the couple say the grant only provides 5% of their income and it is unclear whether they will give up their other sources of funding.

The couple will continue to be given a security detail paid for by the taxpayer-funded Metropolitan Police, which does not disclose the costs involved.

The couple's intention to travel back and forth from North America would likely add to this cost, but it is possible they will pay towards this - although it will be a large bill.

Does Prince Charles actually own all of his estates - and is his income from the Duchy still state funding? Robert

This comes after Harry and Meghan claimed on their new website that 95% of funding for their office comes through income from Prince Charles' estate - the Duchy of Cornwall.

The Duchy estate belongs to all heirs to the throne and has existed since Edward III created it for his son and heir, Prince Edward (famously known as the Black Prince), in 1337.

According to a charter, the Prince of Wales, as the Duke of Cornwall, receives income each year generated from assets on the estate - which includes large parts of Cornwall, Dorset and Herefordshire - but he does not benefit from the proceeds or profit on the sale of any assets, according to the Duchy's website.

This means that the territory - and income - of the Duchy will pass to Prince William, as heir, and on to his son Prince George when he becomes the heir.

Therefore the estate itself is not owned by any one member of the Royal Family, nor is it owned by the government.

How much have taxpayers already paid out to facilitate the Sussexes' relationship, for example to secure the Royal Wedding? Ann Jackson

Harry and Meghan's wedding in May 2018 attracted some 100,000 well-wishers to Windsor as well as a global TV audience of hundreds of millions.

At the time, the Berkshire police commissioner Anthony Stansfeld suggested the cost of securing the duke and duchess' wedding was "between £2m and £4m".

Another recent comparison would be the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which cost the Metropolitan Police £6.35m - though it took place in London and was a larger event.

The Metropolitan Police - which is responsible for securing the Royal Family - does not reveal the cost of day-to-day security or policing, so these costs are not known.

Reports of previous estimates have suggested the cost of securing all senior royals costs the Met Police around £50m a year.

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