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Prince Harry, Meghan to give up 'royal highness' titles

Last Updated Jan 18, 2020 at 5:21 pm EDT

Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex pose for a group photo at the Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. A journalism expert says Prince Harry and Meghan may have been drawn to Canada's "deferential" media culture as they mulled their part-time move across the pond. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, John Stillwell/Pool Photo

Goodbye, your royal highnesses. Hello, life as – almost – ordinary civilians.

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, are quitting as working royals and will no longer use the titles “royal highness” or receive public funds for their work under a deal announced Saturday by Buckingham Palace.

Releasing details of the dramatic split, triggered by the couple’s unhappiness with life under media scrutiny in the royal fishbowl, the palace said Harry and Meghan will cease to be working members of the royal family when the new arrangements take effect within months, in the “spring of 2020.”

The couple will no longer use the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness, but they are not being stripped of them.

They will be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Harry will remain a prince and sixth in line to the British throne.

The agreement also calls for Meghan and Harry to repay 2.4 million pounds (US$3.1 million) in taxpayers’ money that was spent renovating their home near Windsor Castle, Frogmore Cottage.

Royal watchers say a deal helps clear the way for a possible part-time move to Canada if the couple chooses.

Keith Roy of the Monarchist League of Canada says the deal is exactly what Harry and Meghan asked for and allows them to pursue their plan to lead more independent lives and split their time between North America and the United Kingdom.

Roy says he doesn’t expect the deal to impact the public cost of their security, noting that anyone in Canada who faces constant scrutiny, threat or harassment would expect police protection.

Buckingham Palace did not disclose who will pay for the couple’s security going forward. It currently is taxpayer-funded.

“There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly funded security,” it said.

Royal historian Carolyn Harris says it might affect how their security is funded, as Harry’s cousins Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice also hold reduced royal roles and their father Prince Andrew privately pays for their security.

Harris points out the palace statement says Frogmore Cottage will remain Meghan and Harry’s family home in the United Kingdom, so it doesn’t appear the couple is contemplating a full-time move to Canada.

The couple’s departure is a wrench for the royal family, but Queen Elizabeth II had warm words for them in a statement Saturday.

The queen said she was pleased that “together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.”

“I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life,” Elizabeth said.

“It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life,” she added.

The announcement came after days of talks among royal courtiers sparked by Meghan and Harry’s announcement last week that they wanted to step down as senior royals and live part-time in Canada

The details of the deal solidify the couple’s dramatic break from life as working royals. Army veteran Harry will have to give up the military appointments he has as a senior royal.

While he and Meghan will no longer represent the queen, the palace said they would “continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty” while carrying out their private charitable work.