Royal Biographer Discusses Harry, Meghan's Departure: 'It's Hard To Be A Part-Time Prince'
On Wednesday, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, announced they are stepping away from their "senior" royal roles and will be divide their time between Britain and North America. Tina Brown, who has covered the royal family extensively and wrote the 2007 biography "The Diana Chronicles," said she was not surprised by the announcement, but it did come sooner than expected.
"I think she's — they both have — ripped the band aid off earlier than anybody quite expected," Brown said. "To me this was inevitable, this direction that they've moved in. But I thought it might come in two years, three years. I'm quite surprised it happened at such warp speed."
"All the signals coming out of the palace for the last six months have been an accelerated pace of consolidating where the royal family is going to be post the death of (the Queen)."
British tabloids have reported that the queen was blindsided by the couple's decision. Brown said she doesn't think that's the case.
"I think the queen was fully aware that this sabbatical that they were taking was really about thinking about whether they want to be in or out," she said.
Harry and Meghan recently returned from a trip to Canada, where they went to spend some "private time" over the Christmas holidays.
"They went away to think that through. And I'm absolutely sure that the royal family knew that was the case," Brown said of the trip. "Where they may have been surprised was the timing of the announcement, before all the details were properly worked out."
Those details remain to be seen. The couple said they would be adopting a "revised media approach" in the spring of 2020. "This adjustment will be a phased approach as they settle into the new normality of their updated roles," reads their website's revised "Media" section.
Being a part-time royal is difficult, according to Brown, because the charitable work and the finances of the crown are historically intertwined.
"You can't really step back... You can't be a part time global celebrity. You're in or you're out. And I think that's going to be the difficult part," Brown said. "It's hard to be a part-time prince."
The couple said they will work towards becoming financially independent, but, according to Brown, they will face hurdles if they want to continue participating in royal duties that are in part funded by the British government, such as participating in the traditional commonwealth tours.
"I think what it really means is that Meghan particularly -- and I think now Harry -- feel they can't stand the constrainment they have," Brown said. "This is a fully evolved working woman of 38… and yet there are all these layers of permission on anything she can do."
"What Meghan has desired for a time… is getting back some control of her life."