Prince Harry and Meghan Markle explained why they made the decision to leave the Royal Family in their new docuseries, Harry & Meghan. The couple detail the private meeting at Sandringham on January 13, 2022, where they discussed their future with Prince William, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II. After that meeting, Buckingham Palace released a statement on January 18, saying the couple were no longer working members of the Royal Family.
In the Netflix series, directed by Liz Garbus, Harry and Meghan reveal the chaotic and tumultuous scenes that led to their departure. They describe the Windsor family as deeply divided, with members driven by individual agendas and offices leaking stories about each other to ensure their favorite royals receive more favorable media coverage. This toxic dynamic catalyzed the Sussexes’ departure. Meghan was facing negative media coverage, including the publication of an intimate letter to her estranged father in The Daily Mail, which caused her to have suicidal thoughts. Despite this, Harry claims his family did little to protect them.
Moreover, Harry suggests that the family’s complicity went beyond their silence. He claims family members’ offices gave the tabloids damning information about him and Meghan because they felt threatened by the couple’s explosive popularity. Harry believed his brother William’s team were behind some of the leaks, which was heartbreaking for him as they had previously made an agreement that this would never happen in their office.
After considering moving to New Zealand and then South Africa, Harry and Meghan settled in Canada. They even discussed the move with Prince Charles, who asked them to put the idea in writing. However, just five days later, the news was on the front page of a newspaper and the couple knew someone had leaked the information. Harry explains that the gift was the fact that they were willing to give up their Sussex titles, and it was devastating for them to have their history and their lives taken away from them.
The couple then posted their now infamous statement on Instagram, announcing they were stepping back from their duties as senior members of the Royal Family. Through their docuseries, Harry and Meghan hope to shed light on their experience and pull back the curtain on one of history’s most private families.
Harry contacted his grandmother by phone and asked to speak to her when he and Meghan returned to the UK. Initially, Queen Elizabeth agreed to the meeting, but her office later canceled it and a Sandringham summit was held without Meghan. Feeling left out of the important discussion about their future, Meghan expressed her frustration, saying that as wife, mother and target, she deserved a place at the table.
The summit proved to be a bitter and terrifying experience for Harry, as his family refused to see common ground over his desire for a part-time role with the family. William reportedly became unsteady, yelling at Harry while their father said the wrong things and their grandmother quietly watched. A few days later, Buckingham Palace announced that the couple would no longer be undertaking official engagements or representing the Queen.
To add insult to injury, after a January 2020 article in The Times alleged that Harry and Meghan felt intimidated by Prince William, Kensington Palace released a joint statement denying the allegation. However, Harry denied approving the statement and when he told Meghan, she burst into tears. Harry felt his family were happy to lie to protect William within four hours, but had been unwilling to tell the truth to protect him and Meghan for the past three years.