7 Signs that Meghan Markle & Prince Harry’s Decision to Step Down Has Been in the Works for a While

As surprised as we were to hear that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are ending their roles as senior members of the royal family, we have to admit it’s been a long time coming. We aren’t always fans of the adage all good things must come to an end, but in the case of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the writing has been on the wall for some time. Here are all the clues that signified the couple would eventually forge their own path.

meghan markle clapping invictus games 2017
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1. Their First Outing As A Couple

From the beginning, Markle and Prince Harry have walked to the beat of their own drum. Instead of making their first official public outing a formal one in the United Kingdom with other members of the royal family present, they instead opted to make their relationship known at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto. Did we mention Megs famously wore ripped jeans? Although it’s highly unlikely the couple was considering a life outside of the royal family then, it’s an indication that they set out to do their own thing from the beginning.

2. Moving To Frogmore Cottage

Early in their marriage, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle resided on the grounds of Kensington Palace in a cottage next-door to Prince William and Kate Middleton. As they prepared to welcome their son Archie, however, they made the decision to move out of London and instead set up a home on the grounds of Windsor Castle at Frogmore Cottage. Prior to this move, it was expected that the couple would eventually take over Kensington Palace’s Apartment 1A, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge currently reside, when Prince Charles ascends the throne. That’s because the Prince of Wales would likely move to Buckingham Palace and Prince William, Duchess Catherine and their brood would take over his residence at Clarence House. 

william harry meghan kate msn
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3. The Dissolution Of Their Joint Office With Prince William And Kate Middleton

Around the same time as the move, Kensington Palace announced the couple’s intention to separate their formal offices from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and to form their own. At the time, the palace made a statement saying, “This long-planned move will ensure that permanent support arrangements for the duke and duchess’s work are in place as they start their family and move to their official residence at Frogmore Cottage.” 

4. The Separation From The Royal Foundation

Although the royal Fab Four as they were once called used to head up the Royal Foundation together (the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were listed as “principals”), they split with the entity in June of 2019. Subsequently, their names were removed from the website. The palace explained the shift, releasing a statement that said, “Later this year The Royal Foundation will become the principal charitable and philanthropic vehicle for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will establish their own new charitable foundation with transitional operating support from The Royal Foundation.”

5. Their Legal Action Against British Tabloids

In an unprecedented move, Prince Harry and Markle decided to sue the British press in October of last year for their “ruthless” campaign against the Duchess of Sussex. This was a move more likely to be carried out by a private citizen, not a member of the royal family.

6. Their Royal Leave of Duty

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex quietly announced via the Buckingham Palace press office that they would be taking a leave of absence from royal duties late last year. The palace released a statement saying, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month. Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, [the couple] will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria.”

7. And Finally, The Queen’s Christmas Address

Every year since 1957, Queen Elizabeth has delivered a Christmas address in which she wishes the people of the United Kingdom a happy holiday and muses on a specific theme. This year, fans were shocked to notice that although her desktop held a photo of Prince William and his family, there wasn’t one of Prince Harry and his. Now, it seems less like a slight and more like an intentional decision to offer Prince Harry and Markle the privacy they so desire.

Now, we wait to see what happens next.


Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.