The British monarchy is one of the oldest monarchies in the world. This month the British Royal Family have seen two more members announce they wish to step back from the family, the latest loss in less than two months – with Prince Andrew, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and baby Archie leaving the Firm behind. So is this the beginning of the end of the British monarchy?
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, intend to step back from their roles as senior members of the Royal Family.
In a statement published on Instagram, they said: “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.”
The couple also revealed their intention to balance their time between the UK and North America, which would allow them to raise their son “with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter”.
On Monday, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry met at Sandringham Estate to discuss the future roles of the Sussex couple.
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After the meeting was concluded, the Queen published a statement in support of the couple.
The statement said: “Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.
“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.
“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.
“It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK. These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”
Public opinion is divided about the couple’s decision.
Many people have offered their support for the couple, praising them for doing what is right for them as a family.
On Instagram, one person wrote: “Everyone deserves to do what makes you happy in life. Wishing you all the very best for the future and a happy life going forward. Hoping you don’t leave the UK altogether though.”
However, other people have criticised the couple’s decision, accusing them of fleeing their duties.
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After the statement was published last week, anti-monarchist group Republic said Harry and Meghan’s bombshell news could forecast the end of the British monarchy.
Republic spokesman Graham Smith, called the statement crass and self-serving after the royal couple said they would work towards being financially independent.
He said: “This really is wanting to have your cake and eat it.
“They have said they will dip in and out of royal duties as it suits them but won’t stop taking public money until they find other sources of income.
“To suggest that they’re not already financially independent is incredibly crass and belies a sense of self entitlement and a lack of self-awareness that is common among royals.”
“What should be more concerning is that the royal family’s star couple have effectively bowed out of their leading role, and that raises questions about the monarchy’s future.
“The Queen and Prince Charles appear comfortable with all the trappings and formality of royal duties, but it’s increasingly clear that the younger generations are not so keen.
“In the meantime taxpayers will rightly ask who will be funding their overseas lifestyle, their extra security and trips back and forth between here and North America.
“The monarchy needs to be asked serious questions about what they’re up to, it’s not good enough to be told to wait for clarification or to be left reading the tea leaves to work out what their intentions are.
“The royal family is in trouble and with the next succession on the horizon their problems are only going to get worse.”
Meghan and Harry’s departure could prove severely damaging to the monarchy and its future according to royal experts.
The couple’s departure comes after Prince Andrew announced his plan to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future” in November.
The news came after Prince Andrew undertoook a controversial Newsnight interview about his friendship with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
In general, the Prince Andrew scandal was the latest in a difficult 2019 for the Royal Family, with the Queen in face referencing this in her Christmas message.
She said: “The path, of course, is not always smooth and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.”
With scandals, retirements from public life and generational differences between the older and younger royals, it is possible a referendum on the monarchy could be held in Britain’s future.
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