The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they are stepping down as ‘senior’ members of The Royal Family. But after months of turmoil in the media, does this come as a surprise?

The Past

The media’s perception of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during the summer of 2016 was very different from its display now. The public also seemed excited with the soon-to-be princess, flocking to see her at a series of public engagements across the U.K. However, it seems that 2019 has become a battle between Megan & Harry, the public and the British tabloids.

The ‘bad press’ was first displayed during her relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, who created a media frenzy of his outspoken press interviews regarding the Royal Family, his staging paparazzi photos and badmouthing of his daughter, the Duchess of Sussex, due to her refusal to contact him further due to his behaviour.

Prince Harry’s relationship with the British tabloids began to hinder when he issued a strongly worded statement, suggesting that there had been “a line crossed” with the majority of the coverage.

“Meghan Markle has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment,” it said. “Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in South Africa with their son. Photo credit

Shortly following the birth of their son, Archie Harrison Mountbattern-Windsor, the pair embarked on a tour to South Africa. The public got a glimpse into the couple’s mindset in an ITV documentary filmed during the tour.

The Duchess of Sussex admitted adjusting to royal life had been “hard” and she had not been prepared for the intensity of the media scrutiny, despite warnings from her British friends that the tabloids could “destroy” her life. Thus, sharing intimate moments of the impact the British press has had on the couples mental health.

When asked whether she was coping, Meghan said: “I have said for a long time to H – that is what I call him – it’s not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life. You have got to thrive.”

In the emotional appearance during the documentary, they spoke about the pressures they have been facing and family rifts. As The Duke of Sussex suggested it was the brothers who have been feuding rather than the women. Therefore asking the question, was Meghan used as a scapegoat from the real feud hitting the tabloid press?

After the documentary aired, the couple sued The Mail on Sunday’s parent company, Associated Newspapers, after the tabloid published a private letter written by The Duchess. The royal couple also filed a claim against Associated Newspapers in October for the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act 2018, according to the law firm representing them.

Upon the news, The Duke of Sussex also created a scathing statement against the British tabloids for a “ruthless campaign” against his wife.

“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” he said. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

His mother, Princess Diana, tragically died in a car accident whilst trying to escape from the ruthless paparazzi in Paris, which understandably must have been a traumatic ordeal for the Duke of Sussex to see similar behaviour happening to his wife.

The Present

Speculation about the future of the power couple has been rife in Britain after the pair spent Christmas in Canada on an extended break from royal duties.

With the most recent Royal scandal regarding Prince Andrew hitting the global press during the Duke and Duchess break from royal duties and his continued support from The Crown, it seems almost fitting that they have chosen to depart from their immediate family. However, their departure announcement took many by surprise, apparently including Buckingham Palace.

“Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” a palace spokesperson said. “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s statement via Instagram

In their public announcement on ‘stepping back’ from royal duties, the couple stated that they will still support Her Majesty The Queen; however, they strive to be financially independent. In doing so, they have recently been granted a trademark for their brand ‘Sussex Royal’.

The copyright stamp, which was granted by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, encompasses hundreds of items under the categories of printed matter, clothing, campaigning, charitable fundraising, education and social care services.

According to the government body’s website, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex applied for the trademark in June 2019. The copyright, which was approved by the office and published on its website on December 19, applies to both the name ‘Sussex Royal’ and to their charitable organization ‘The Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’

They have recently created their own website where they’ve discussed ways they plan to support themselves in the future and supplied a detailed  Q&A on how their financials will work, due to becoming financially independent from The Crown, aka not being bought or controlled by the British taxpayer.

The Future?

What will the future hold for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex? It remains an open question; however, I am sure that whatever happens, the British tabloids won’t be far behind.

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