Although it feels like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left the Royal family for American pastures a solid decade ago, it has only been a year since the pair announced their royal exit on Instagram. It was a moment that shocked the world—as well as the Duke of Sussex’s family.
However, it turns out the couple may not have intended to drop that bombshell in such a spur-of-the-moment address. According to royal historian Robert Lacey, who also works as a consultant for The Crown, the duke and duchess attempted to work with the royal family to make a statement that would please everyone, but there was a leak to the press.
“Harry and Meghan had put a great deal of thought into trying to create something that would work for both sides, but that was all blown when their plans were leaked to the press,” he told Vanity Fair. “Harry was trying to get Charles, William, and the Queen to approve a plan, which they wanted in writing. Harry wanted to talk face-to-face because he was worried it would leak. Reluctantly, he did put it in writing, it did leak, and that led to the Sussexes making the announcement.”
According to VF, the pair returned to the U.K. on January 7 after attending an event in Canada when The Sun first reported that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were planning to move to North America and “ditch” their HRH titles.
By January 8, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry put out the following message on their website and Instagram: “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.”
In the ensuing months, their leave became known as “Megxit” as reports surfaced that Meghan Markle was the driving force in the couple’s decision to build a life outside of the U.K. with their son Archie. However, a source also told Vanity Fair that the move was actually Prince Harry’s idea.
“It came to the point where he wanted a different way of life,” says a source who knows Harry well. “Meghan was simply the catalyst.”