In early 2020 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the world when they revealed they’d be taking a back seat as royal family members. Indeed, for several weeks the decision the press termed “Megxit” virtually dominated media headlines. And as she and her husband prepared to wave goodbye to the U.K., Meghan made sure that no one could forget her in a hurry. After the duchess debuted her final looks as a senior royal, in fact, speculation began to run rampant.
And Meghan had sported those seemingly statement-making outfits at the engagements she and Harry attended in March 2020. First, the couple were present at the Endeavour Fund Awards to honor servicemen and women wounded in the line of duty. Then, two days later, they headed to the Royal Albert Hall in London for a concert that had been staged to benefit two different charities.
Finally, Harry and Meghan carried out their last duty as senior royals by making an appearance at the annual Commonwealth Day service in London. At Westminster Abbey, the pair were accompanied by several other members of their famous family, including Harry’s brother, Prince William, sister-in-law, Kate, father, Prince Charles, and grandmother the Queen.
The occasion also saw the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex publicly rub shoulders once more after the so-called Megxit announcement. But as ever, the press seemed just as interested in Meghan’s fashion sense as they did in any family politics. And the royal ensured that they had plenty to write about, too.
Then, following the service, Harry and Meghan headed back to Canada, where they had been based for several months. Initially, the pair were expected to start their new lives as financially independent individuals in the country; just a few weeks later, however, it was confirmed that they had changed their plans.
Instead, in late March 2020, the couple relocated from Toronto to Los Angeles in what appeared to be an unscheduled move. The royals flew with their first-born, Archie, shortly before global events shut down all inessential travel between America and Canada. And, somewhat inevitably, rumors began to circulate about what had caused Harry and Meghan to take off.
For example, British newspaper The Sun reported that tax was the main reason for the duke and duchess’ getaway. Specifically, the paper claimed that Meghan would be forced to give away a substantial chunk of her earnings if she remained in Canada. And, in fact, as a U.S. citizen, the royal would likely end up being taxed in both North American countries.
According to The Sun, Meghan would need to satisfy a 15.3 percent tax levy to help support the U.S. Medicare and social security programs. She’d also have to give details of any international bank accounts to the United States’ Internal Revenue Service. In the end, then, the newspaper suggested, Meghan and Harry may have simply agreed that it was much easier and far less expensive in the long run to up sticks once more.
So, where exactly did Harry and Meghan choose for their new base? According to reports, the royals plumped for a $20 million mansion in Malibu. And in April 2020 royal expert Charlie Lankston suggested to Access Hollywood that the couple had settled on the sun-soaked city partly because of its relative proximity to Hollywood.
But the always fascinating pair didn’t waste any time in proving that they could find work outside the royal family. Since the relocation to North America, Harry has given talks about mental health issues for a number of financial institutions on Wall Street. Meghan, meanwhile, has lent her voice to a Disney movie about elephant conservation efforts in Botswana.
But the Disney project isn’t likely to be Meghan’s last involvement with Hollywood. You see, the one-time star of legal drama Suits is reportedly looking to get back into the acting profession. And, apparently, the duchess has some high hopes for her return to the screen.
Indeed, acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay is allegedly at the top of Meghan’s list when it comes to the directors with whom she wants to work. Supposedly, the royal believes that critics will be sharpening their knives whenever she appears in front of the cameras again; by aligning herself with such esteemed talent, then, it’s possible that she may reduce the chances of a critical mauling.
But as wider public health concerns continued to impact the state of California, Harry and Meghan soon switched their attentions to the crisis at hand. Twice in one week, the pair were pictured assisting with deliveries for the Project Angel Food organization in California. Both Meghan and Harry sported protective masks while handing out food to those unable to make their own meals or head to the store.
The duke and duchess were widely praised, too, for doing their bit in such a time of need. Still, Harry and Meghan seem unable to keep away from controversy for too long. And just a few days later, they issued a statement that may have left certain sections of the press with an even dimmer opinion of the couple than before.
In a emphatically phrased letter, the royals revealed that they would no longer be cooperating with Britain’s four biggest tabloid newspapers: The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. Meghan and Harry added that they couldn’t “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.”
The duke and duchess even went so far as to accuse the media of printing reports that were “distorted, false or invasive beyond reason.” And a representative for the two would explain the message further, saying, “There is a real human cost to this way of doing business, and it affects every corner of society. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know – as well as complete strangers – have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.”
This certainly wasn’t the first time that the pair had taken umbrage at the Daily Mail, either. That same week, a hearing regarding a lawsuit that Meghan had filed against the newspaper’s Sunday edition was conducted virtually. The duchess had decided to take the tabloid to court after it had published personal correspondence that she’d sent to her estranged father, Thomas.
Of course, even these decisive measures won’t stop the British tabloids from commenting on the two royals’ every move. Meghan, in particular, will no doubt remain a staple of the fashion columns. And while the former actress’ sense of style has been under the microscope ever since she first got together with Harry, her outfit choices have seemingly been even more of a subject of scrutiny following her wedding.
For instance, in 2018 an article in Town & Country magazine reflected on how, since getting married, Meghan had only ever sported garments that were somewhat soft in color. And like other observers, writer Caroline Hallemann wondered whether this was a sign that the duchess was conforming to the royal family’s more conservative traditions. Alternatively, Meghan may have simply avoided brighter shades in an effort to not take any attention away from the more senior royals.
But over the next year, one fashion critic noted how Meghan had also started to dress more like her Suits character. In the legal drama, Rachel Zane is renowned for wearing tight skirts, buttoned-up shirts and well-crafted jackets. And some of Meghan’s post-wedding wardrobe appeared to incorporate a number of these features.
Yet it was very much a different story when Meghan returned to the U.K. with Harry to fulfill her final royal duties. Gone were the pastel shades and demure outfits that had made the duchess look like every other member of her new family. And in their place came some colorful, bold, stylistic choices that looked almost as though they’d been plucked from the pages of Vogue.
Meghan first caught attention with a photo that could practically have been taken on the set of a rom-com. Wearing a Victoria Beckham-designed blue dress, the beaming duchess looked positively radiant as she walked under an umbrella in the rain with her similarly smiling husband.
And the glamorous picture sent the internet into meltdown. Journalist Elizabeth Holmes, who often comments on Instagram about the royal family’s fashion choices, was seemingly one of the most impressed. Of the image, she remarked to Town & Country, “What a way to undo the last two months of negative press and any criticism about what they are doing to just return so triumphantly.”
The man who actually took the snap, Samir Hussein, appeared to be pretty bowled over, too. The photographer told Town & Country, “It’s a one-in-a-million [chance] when all the elements you could wish for as a photographer come together. Perfect timing, great lighting, strong symbolism and amazing subjects make this a magical photo I am extremely proud of.”
But the blue dress was just one of three sartorial statements that had even the British tabloids fawning over Meghan. And when she and Harry attended the Mountbatten Music Festival, the two again made quite the impression. Most notably – and in a visible display of togetherness – the happy couple appeared to color-coordinate their outfits.
For the last time he’d ever appear in public as the Royal Marines’ Captain General, Harry sported his official red uniform. The duke had been forced to vacate the position following his decision to step back from the royal family. And Meghan apparently decided to pay her own special tribute by wearing a cape dress in a very similar red hue.
After that outing, Holmes was once again left in awe of the Duchess of Sussex’s sense of style. She said to Town & Country, “Meghan appearing next to Harry in his uniform on the last day that he is wearing his uniform publicly – that was really powerful. And I think it showed real unity between them.”
It seems, though, that Holmes was far from the only one who was dazzled by the red Safiyaa dress. Christine Ross, the editor of blog Meghan’s Mirror, told Town & Country that her website hadn’t been able to cope with the volume of traffic for which the outfit was responsible. And she can understand, too, why so many people were drawn to the image.
Ross explained, “The look was so similar to [Meghan’s] other Safiyaa gown, the long blue one she wore in Fiji, which was also hugely popular. It was smart that she returned to a look she knew the public would love and paired it with Harry’s military uniform.” The editor went on to describe the gesture as “incredibly respectful.”
And, once again, Meghan excited the press and public when she turned up at the Commonwealth Day Service with Harry for their final royal duty. This time around, she sported a bright green dress that some saw as a nod to her grandmother-in-law, who has become renowned for wearing similarly vibrant outfits. According to royal biographer Robert Hardman, the monarch once said, “I can never wear beige because nobody will know who I am.”
Furthermore, eagle-eyed commentators noticed that Harry and Meghan had yet again attempted to coordinate their outfits. On this occasion, though, the display was a little less obvious. It was only thanks to the wind, in fact, that the blogger known as Gert’s Royals spotted the similarity in color between the duke’s coat lining and his wife’s gown.
Holmes also commented on the look in her chat with Town & Country. She said, “It’s almost like [Harry and Meghan] knew that there would be a little gust of wind when they walked. That kind of unity [and] matching in a photograph gives you a sense that the couple is together and they’re strong – people who are on the same wavelength. It felt very intentional. That kind of stuff does not happen by accident.”
Meghan’s Mirror editor Ross was similarly impressed by how the outfit bookended the duchess’ royal life. She added, “It’s so brightly colored and such a beautiful green. She entered this royal role in that green P.A.R.O.S.H. dress for the engagement interview, and now she’s leaving the role in a beautiful green Emilia Wickstead.”
But some believe that Meghan’s first two outfits in particular had a deeper meaning. By wearing striking dresses in both red and blue, the duchess could well have been paying her respect to the national flags of both her and Harry’s homelands – as well as that of Canada.
There’s also a theory that Meghan was paying tribute not to the Queen, the U.K. or the U.S. but instead to another very famous former member of Harry’s family. It was noticed, you see, that the duchess’ final three public outfits as a senior royal all had something in common with garments once worn by the late Princess Diana.
More specifically, the teal number that Meghan sported while shielding from the rain looked similar to a dress that Diana had worn in June 1997. Just two months before her untimely passing, the princess was seen in the light blue gown while watching the English National Ballet at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The famous company was staging a production of Swan Lake at the time.
That same month, Diana also showed up at a fundraising event for the American Red Cross and made quite the impression in a striking red Jacques Azagury ensemble. Perhaps, then, the outfit Meghan wore alongside her husband in military uniform was a nod to this classic look.
But if Meghan really was paying homage to the mother-in-law she never got to meet, she went much further back for her final royal fashion statement. You see, the vibrant green dress at the Commonwealth Day service may just have been inspired by one worn by Princess Diana in 1982 – two years before Harry was even born. The late royal had sported the outfit at the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony.
Nonetheless, color consultant Jules Standish has suggested that Meghan was simply expressing her personality through her clothing rather than echoing Diana. In March 2020 Standish said to The Sun, “Meghan went bright and bold in red – a color that demands attention, showing that she feels confident and strong. When she chose turquoise, a color which is fun-loving and uplifting, she was showing that she’s cool and in control.”
And that same month, body language interpreter Alison Reader told the Daily Express that Meghan’s sartorial choices represented something even bolder. She said, “Meghan stands out in her emerald green dress and cape. She is her own superhero as she has initiated the flight of freedom with Harry to Canada. There is an energy of defiance and grace about her. She is one clever lady.”
Along the way, though, rumors persist that Meghan and her father-in-law, Charles, haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye since at least the start of 2020. Why is the relationship allegedly under so much strain? Well, while it may be down in part to Megxit, there’s apparently another reason, too.
When Harry and Markle revealed that they intended to step down as senior royals, their decision reportedly sent shockwaves through the royal family. Charles in particular is said to have felt hurt by his son and daughter-in-law’s announcement – perhaps because he and Meghan were apparently once close. And if reports are to be believed, the Duchess of Sussex may have only pushed her father-in-law further away with her actions in January 2020.
As many know, of course, Harry and Meghan first unveiled their controversial plans at the start of 2020. Then, just two months later, the couple attended their last engagement as royal highnesses at the annual Commonwealth Service in London. And owing to the significance of the outing, there were plenty of eyes on the couple as they arrived at Westminster Abbey.
Dressed to impress, Meghan stood out from the crowd in an emerald gown by Emilia Wickstead. Harry, meanwhile, looked smart in a blue suit, with its green fabric lining echoing the shade of his wife’s outfit. Though subtle, this detail may have had a hidden meaning – hinting, perhaps, that the pair were still united even despite the fallout from their decision.
And during their last appearance as senior royals, Harry and Meghan made time for wellwishers, greeting the crowds outside Westminster Abbey and chatting to a group of schoolchildren following the Commonwealth Service. Meghan also waved from her car as she and Harry drove off to their new life together.
Yet the Sussexes’ seeming ease with the public may have belied the tension that was rumored to have built up prior to their appearance at the Commonwealth Service. According to a March 2020 report by the Daily Mail, the two were apparently “upset” and “emotional” when they were not allowed to arrive at Westminster Abbey in the Queen’s party.
Instead, Harry and Meghan were supposedly told to find their seats prior to the Queen’s arrival. In the end, then, they were placed next to Harry’s uncle Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex. And the couple’s low-profile entrance marked a stark change from the events of the previous year, when they had accompanied the other senior royals in the procession.
So, Harry and Meghan joined Edward and Sophie in awaiting the other members of the family at Westminster Abbey. Nonetheless, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were apparently eager to ease any tensions by offering to take their seats ahead of the Queen, Charles and Camilla.
By the time that William and Kate allegedly decided to put on a united front with Harry and Meghan, though, some 2,000 orders of service had already been created. These made it evident that the Cambridges were due to enter with the other senior royals and that the Sussexes had seemingly been dropped from the procession.
In the end, then, it seems that William and Kate opted for some sort of middle ground. While the duke and duchess had been permitted to enter Westminster alongside the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla, they also arrived ahead of the other senior royals and took their seats quickly. But even this reported gesture of goodwill may not quite have been enough.
You see, after video footage emerged of the event inside Westminster Abbey, tongues began to wag. That’s because the exchange of greetings between Harry, Meghan, William and Kate appeared to be remarkably curt. And royal-watchers and members of the media started to fiercely speculate over the state of the relationship between the princes and their wives.
As William and Kate were taking their seats in Westminster Abbey ahead of the service, the Duke of Cambridge and his brother seemed to acknowledge each other briefly. Meghan, meanwhile, was seen waving at her brother-in-law, saying “Hi” and then “Hello.” By contrast, though, a report in the Daily Mail didn’t mention Kate greeting the Sussexes at all.
The seemingly frosty reunion between the Sussexes and Cambridges came after Harry seemed to publicly acknowledge that there had been dissent within the ranks. Specifically, the prince addressed the rumors that he and William were growing apart in the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, which was premiered by British broadcaster ITV in October 2019.
While being interviewed for the program, Harry said of his relationship with William, “Inevitably, you know, stuff happens. But we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him. And, as I know, he will always be there for me.”
Seemingly admitting that he had become less close to William, Harry continued, “We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we are so busy. But I love him dearly. And, you know, the majority of stuff is created out of nothing. But as brothers, you know, you have good days, [and] you have bad days.”
Rumors of a rift between the two princes began when Harry and Meghan chose to relocate from Kensington Palace to Windsor’s Frogmore Cottage. It’s also been alleged that things turned sour after William apparently warned Harry about rushing into marriage with the former Suits star. And, of course, there have been a number of reports in the press claiming that Meghan and Kate do not get on.
So, the Cambridges’ rumored snub of the Sussexes at the Commonwealth Service only seemed to fuel speculation that all was not well between Harry and William and their wives. But the awkward meeting between the foursome was apparently not the only potential cause of upset for Harry and Meghan in the run-up to what has since been dubbed “Megxit.”
Before Meghan and Harry left the U.K. to return to Canada, they are said to have thrown a goodbye lunch for their staff at Frogmore Cottage. The employees of the royal household had lost their jobs, you see, as a result of the couple’s decision to relocate across the Atlantic. And that final meal together was said to have been an emotional affair, too.
According to Harper’s Bazaar royal editor Omid Scobie, Meghan even wept at the event for the workers. The journalist additionally claimed that Harry was “heartbroken” to be relinquishing the military honors he’d earned after having spent ten years serving in the British Army.
In a March 2020 article for the magazine’s website, Scobie added that it had “crushed” Harry and Meghan to have to resign as senior royals. He further explained, “It’s a decision that the couple still feel wasn’t necessary. But [it] also wasn’t a surprise given the lack of support they received, as they were relentlessly attacked by sections of the British press with almost daily mistruths and hateful commentary.”
If Scobie’s analysis of the situation is to be believed, then it seems that things couldn’t have gotten much worse for Harry and Meghan. But behind the scenes, it’s said that there was even further tension brewing between the duchess and her father-in-law. And – perhaps surprisingly – the source of the discord was apparently all down to Meghan’s conduct on social media.
Reports suggesting that Meghan and Charles’ relationship was under strain may come as a surprise to fans of the royal family. Indeed, at Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018, it was the Prince of Wales who walked the bride down the aisle at Westminster Abbey rather than her own father, Thomas Markle Sr.
In a statement released prior to the ceremony, Kensington Palace announced, “Ms. Meghan Markle has asked His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to accompany her down the aisle of the Quire of St George’s Chapel on her wedding day. [Charles] is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to the royal family in this way.”
Then, following Harry and Meghan’s nuptials, it was claimed that Charles shared a close bond with his daughter-in-law. In September 2018 a reported royal insider told Vanity Fair, “The wedding was a real turning point. Charles showed so much love towards Harry and Meghan, and I think Harry will be eternally grateful to his papa for stepping in and giving Meghan’s hand in marriage. The bond between them is very close.”
The source then referred to the strained relationship between Meghan and Thomas, adding, “Charles has been very supportive of Meghan and everything she is going through with her own father. He’s got a real soft spot for her and thinks she’s the best thing to have happened to Harry.”
Indeed, a 2018 article by the Daily Mail claims that Charles believed Meghan could have been a valuable addition to the royal family – helping to modernize their image for the 21st century. He also apparently admired her strength and enjoyed teaching her about the history of the clan she’d married into. As a result, Charles was allegedly “floored” by Harry and Meghan’s agreement to step back from royal life.
And to make matters worse, in January 2020 a source claimed to The Mail on Sunday that Charles was “frustrated” with Meghan over her social media posts. That month, the prince had officially unveiled his “Sustainable Markets Initiative” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The green economic scheme is intended to assist in the fight against climate change – a cause about which Charles is particularly passionate.
According to CNN, Charles’ initiative calls for those in charge to put the planet and its citizens “at the heart of global value creation.” And while addressing the audience in Davos, the prince explained his stance further, saying, “Nature is, in fact, the lifeblood of our financial markets and, as such, we must – rapidly – realign our own economy to mimic nature’s economy and work in harmony with it.”
But the Mail on Sunday report claims that Charles felt the reveal of his project was overshadowed by Meghan’s social media posts. At the same time Charles was in Davos, pictures were posted to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Instagram account that showed Meghan’s recent visit to an animal shelter.
And Charles was allegedly peeved by Meghan’s behavior precisely because he had tried to avoid such a clash. The Mail on Sunday source revealed, “The Palace wanted someone from their side involved in the coordination of diaries and press activities last week. But the request was rejected by the Sussexes. The couple’s rejection of any simple coordination hasn’t gone down too well with Charles.”
Meghan’s Instagram post hadn’t just potentially overshadowed Charles’ activities, either. At almost the same time that the images of the Duchess of Sussex appeared online, Kate began a tour of the U.K. intended to raise awareness of a venture focused on early childhood.
But while Charles may now no longer be happy with Meghan, she and Harry probably need to keep on the Prince of Wales’ good side. That’s because he will reportedly bankroll the couple in the first year of their independence – and despite the fact that the two are said to be jointly worth over $40 million.
The “Megxit” deal also states that Harry and Meghan have to reimburse the nearly $3 million of taxpayers’ money used to renovate Frogmore Cottage. It’s been said, after all, that they intend to keep the Grade II listed property in Windsor as their U.K. home.
And as Harry and Meghan concluded their official duties on March 31, 2020, they are no longer working royals. As such, they will not use their HRH titles and will instead simply go by the names of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Harry, Duke of Sussex. Harry has also forgone the right to call himself the Captain General Royal Marines, the Honorary Air Commandant of Royal Air Force Honington and the Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy.
What’s more, although Harry and Meghan will retain their private associations and patronages, they will no longer be official representatives of the Queen. Things may yet change, though, as it’s said that the entire arrangement will be reviewed by senior royals after a year.
In any case, when Meghan and Harry announced that they would be leaving the royal family in January 2020, the couple said on their official Instagram page that they wanted to “carve out a progressive new role.” But only time will tell what that role will look like – or the impact that it may have on the institution of the monarchy.
Yet despite the suggestions that Harry and Meghan have been at loggerheads with other members of the royal family, they did put on a respectful display at the Commonwealth Service. In a tribute to Prince Charles, Meghan was seen curtsying to the future monarch in recognition of his superior rank.
According to royal protocol, Meghan is obliged to curtsy to anyone of greater standing within the family when they enter a room. This includes the Queen and her immediate heirs, Prince Charles and Prince William. The duchess is also required to curtsy to Kate, who will become Queen Consort when her husband takes the throne.
Even so, there was much ado over Meghan’s first public curtsy on Christmas Day 2017. On that occasion, the duchess bent down for the Queen outside the Church of St. Mary Magdalene and was criticized at the time for not positioning her legs properly when making the gesture. More recently, though, it seems as though Meghan has perfected the mark of respect.
At the Commonwealth Service in 2020, Meghan was first seen curtsying to the Queen before repeating the action for her father-in-law. While Harry, William and Kate seemed to acknowledge Charles with slight nods of their heads, Meghan was the only person to bend down in his presence. And the move didn’t go unnoticed on social media.
Writing on Instagram, one commenter said that Meghan was “so great” for curtsying to Charles. Another individual claimed, meanwhile, that she was “killing [the other royals] with kindness” with the move. But whatever Meghan’s intentions, the moment was a sweet one – and hopefully it won’t be the last in the duchess’ relationship with Charles.