Harry and Meghan: 5 Royals Who Stepped Back From Royal Duties

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, confirmed that they would not return to royal family duties.

Priya Hazra
Feb 19, 2021 15:39 IST
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, confirmed that they would not return to royal family duties. On Friday, a statement released by Buckingham Palace asserted the news.


“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family. Following conversations with the Duke, the Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service."

"The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of the Royal Family,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

“While all are saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family,” they added. On January 8, 2020, Harry and Meghan issued a statement, saying they would “step back as senior members” of the British royal family, seek financial independence and split their time between the US and UK.


Later, in February 2020, the couple said they would no longer use their royal titles and in March, shifted base to the US. However, the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex aren’t the only royals who have stepped away from royal duties. History has preserved a record of few others who made the same decision, maybe for unlike reasons, long ago.

Here are the Royal family members who stepped away from their duties before Harry and Meghan:

Diana, Princess of Wales


Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, who lived an independent life despite being part of the British Royal Family, stepped down in 1993. As a result she lost the royal official designation of “Her Royal Highness”. Following her separation from Prince Charles, Diana announced that henceforth she would be living a private life.

Although she divorced Prince Charles in 1996, Diana retained her title of “Princess of Wales”, an allowance,  and her apartment at Kensington Palace as well as certain royal privileges.

Harry and Meghan: 5 Royals Who Stepped Back From Royal Duties


Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson, who was married to Prince Andrew for six years, separated from her husband in 1996. Although Ferguson became known as the Duchess of York, she no longer held any royal privileges.

In November, Sarah tweeted in defence of her former husband after he embroiled in a controversy for a BBC interview.


“It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty+pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs. Andrew is a true+real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness + goodness @TheDukeOfYork,” she wrote.

Sarah and Prince Andrew have two daughters together, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. After moving away from the royal family, the Duchess of York hosted her own talk show for a short time, and became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers and a children’s author.

Princess Anne’s children 

Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth 2, declined the courtesy titles offered to her children Peter and Zara. The children of the only daughter to the Queen weren't guaranteed titles. Anne and her then-husband Mark Phillips chose a normal life for their children over the courtesy titles.


According to Zara, her parent’s decision allowed them more freedom than her cousins William and Harry. 

In an interview with The Times, Zara said, “I’m very lucky that both my parents decided to not use the title and we grew up and did all the things that gave us the opportunity to do.” 

The Duchess of Kent


The Duchess of Kent, Katharine, the wife of the Queen's cousin Prince Edward left palace life to pursue her vocation to teach music. In 2002 the Duchess of Kent decided to join the Wansbeck Primary School in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire.

Katharine who is known as Mrs. Kent at her school, conducted an interview with Alan Titchmarsh.

“When I was teaching the first thing I began to notice was the power of music as a stimulant to these children to give them confidence and self-belief. I began to see that happen all the time. Some of the children I taught haven’t necessarily become musicians, but the confidence it has given them, some have joined the Army, some to university, which they might not have done otherwise. I have always loved talent; I love that tickle up the neck when you see talent and I began to realise I was teaching some very, very gifted children," she said in the 2011 interview. 

King Edward VIII

The former King Edward VIII, famously resigned from his royal post in order to marry Wallis Simpson December 1936. He met his wife when she was still married to Ernest, her second husband. 

The royal court, government and church didn’t accept the American, twice-divorced woman as their queen. As a result, Edward stepped down from his position as King. Following that his brother, the Duke of York, ascended the throne as George VI.

The Duke of Windsor eventually married Simpson, without the presence of any royal member, while in exile in France in 1937.

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