Royals

What will change now that Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry are stepping back from royal duties?

Following the Sussexes’ shock announcement, the couple have answered questions on their website about what to expect going forward.

By Anya Truong-George
Just a day after returning to royal duties following a six-week hiatus in Canada, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made the shocking announcement they are stepping back from their roles as 'senior' members of the British royal family and becoming financially independent.
So, how will this affect how Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan work in future and their ties to the Royal Family?
On their newly updated website, the royal couple has meticulously answered a number of questions regarding how they will work with the media going forward as well as questions about why they have decided to become financially independent – including an incredibly detailed explanation about the infamous renovations to their Frogmore Cottage at Windsor last year.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made the shocking announcement that they will be stepping back from their roles as senior members of the royal family. (Image: Getty)
Harry and Meghan have announced they are planning to revise how they handle media relations in the future stating some of their updated approaches include: engaging with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists; inviting specialist media to specific engagements to give greater access to their cause-driven activities and to widen the spectrum of news coverage and perhaps most notably, no longer participating in the Royal Rota system.
As the website explains, the Royal Rota system was established 40 years ago, giving specific UK print and broadcast media exclusive inside access to official royal engagements as well as giving them access to, for example, unseen images before any other outlet. The role of the Royal Rota is also to accurately report official engagements that the Royal Family undertake for the press that are unable to attend.
The Sussexes say they wish to "reshape and broaden access to their work" by no longer participating in the Royal Rota stating, "the current structure makes it challenging for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to personally share moments in their lives directly with members of the public (via social media for example), without first going through the filter of the Royal Rota."
The move is unsurprising following the couple's bumpy relationship with the press of late, particularly the relentless criticisms and scrutiny of Duchess Meghan which has not only resulted in Prince Harry releasing an unprecedented, emotional statement but also saw the couple file lawsuits against certain British tabloid media outlets.
Harry and Meghan say they'll continue to use their @sussexroyal account on Instagram, explaining they believe their updated media approach will enable them "to share more, with you, directly."
WATCH: Duchess Meghan says she never thought becoming a royal would be easy. Story continues below...
So what does being a financially independent member of the royal family mean for Harry and Meghan?
As the website explains Harry and Meghan currently receive five per cent of their funding from the Sovereign Grant, which prohibits them from earning a professional income and for this reason they have chosen to no longer receive Sovereign Grant funding.
The Sovereign Grant is an annual allowance granted by the government that helps to cover the work of the Royal Family in support of the Queen, including the upkeep of official residences and workplaces.
In exchange, the Queen surrenders the revenue of the Crown Estate to the government and in return, a portion of the public funds are granted back to the Queen for official expenditure.
Up until now Harry and Meghan have received the other 95 per cent of their funding from the Duchy of Cornwall – private estates and a portfolio of assets – currently owned by Prince Charles as the Duke of Cornwall and it is implied they will continue to receive this funding moving forward.
When Prince Charles ascends the throne the Duchy will be passed on to Prince William.
It seems Meghan and Harry will rely on their allowance from the Duchy of Cornwall moving forward, but as they are also no longer receiving funding from the Sovereign Grant, they will have the ability to earn a professional income. (Image: Getty)
Interestingly Harry and Meghan also seemed eager to clear up the speculation surrounding the renovations of their Frogmore Cottage home at Windsor, listing several questions and answers surrounding its refurbishment.
Last year the couple received notable backlash and criticism from the British public when it was reported it had 'cost the taxpayer' approximately £2.4 million (NZD $4.6 million).
Their website pointedly explains the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage was funded by The Queen through the Sovereign Grant, reflecting the Monarchy's responsibility to maintain the upkeep of buildings historical significance and that additional expenses related to the fixtures, furnishings, and fittings were funded privately by the couple.
They added that the full overhead of the cost of the Royal Family was approximately £1 per taxpayer a year.
The website even went so far as to explain why the couple had chosen to move to Windsor from Kensington Palace, explaining their previous home, Nottingham Cottage couldn't accommodate their growing family and that the option of Apartment 1 in the Palace had been offered to them (The Cambridges currently live in Apartment 1A).
According to them, estimated costs of renovating the apartment (including the removal of asbestos) was estimated to cost more than £4 million and would not be available until late 2020, so the couple opted for Frogmore Cottage, which would also cost half the amount estimated for their Kensington Palace option.
The couple plan to stay at Frogmore Cottage, with permission from the Queen, following the announcement of their changing roles.
You can read the entirety of the questions and answers on the Duke and Duchess' new website.
Harry and Meghan have taken the time to clear the air
Given the extent of the information provided on the Sussexes' website, it came as a surprise when Buckingham Palace released a statement following the couple's bombshell announcement that discussions were still "at an early stage".
"We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through," Buckingham Palace briefly stated, giving the impression the Palace may not have known the announcement was coming so soon.
Following the brief statement, a royal correspondent from the BBC Jonny Dymond tweeted that a palace source had told them senior members of the Royal family feel "hurt by the announcement".
Adding, "The source confirmed that no members of the royal family were consulted."
Buckingham Palace, however, has not yet confirmed whether this was the case.
In their shock announcement via an Instagram post, Harry and Meghan said they plan on splitting their time between the UK and North America in the future and have "chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution."
The couple say they will continue to support The Queen and the Commonwealth along with their patronages while also including the launch of their "new charitable entity".
"We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties."
Concluding, "Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support."