No one could believe the big news: In 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his American gal Meghan, announced they were backing away from the royal title. Unlike many of the stories the royal tabloids report on, this news was — and likely forever will be — actually a huge deal.
Even members of the family were not briefed about the decision before it was posted on social media. Queen Elizabeth issued a statement supporting the couple, but other royals weren’t quite as approving. But with the turmoil below the pristine facade becoming obvious, Prince Charles voiced concerns that made a lot of sense…
Many people view their decision to step down from their royal title as a huge surprise. However, if you’ve been following the reverse fairy tale of Meghan Markle, it’s not completely out of left field. In fact, the signs have been there all along.
When Meghan Markle met Prince Harry, it was a courtship watched by the world. Her status as a famous actress and his being an actual prince became a media circus. Any royal wedding often warrants this response, but their situation was different.
Tone’o / Flickr
Meghan Markle is American, biracial, and a working actress with serious family drama. This profile doesn’t fit the normal description of someone marrying into the royal family, and it’s obvious these unique characteristics contributed to a difficult transition into her new lifestyle.
Before Markle married Prince Harry, she was warned about the British tabloids. One of her British friends told her, with no uncertainty, that the papers would ruin her life. Markle had no idea how true this would end up being.
Meanwhile, Markle’s estranged father never helped the situation, what with him releasing a private letter she’d written him before her wedding… and posing for paparazzi in exchange for cash. As he provided fuel to the fire, the newlyweds never stood a chance.
You might think that, maybe after the insanity of the engagement and wedding, a traditionally heightened time of spectacle, things might slow down. After all, that’s kind of how it happened for William and Kate. This wasn’t the case with Meghan and Harry.
For the almost two years of their marriage, and the birth of their first child, they haven’t caught a break from the swarm of media coverage. It took a toll on the young family, particularly Meghan, and before Christmas, they knew something had to give.
Henk Kruger / The New York Times
The couple announced a break from all royal duties. In reference to their ongoing lawsuit with a British tabloid over sharing Markle’s private letters, Harry made a chilling comparison between Markle and his late mother, Princess Diana. She was also the object of media harassment.
“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces,” Harry stated.
Russ Quinlan / Flickr
Their next public address was their two weeks notice. They planned to preserve what was left of their humanity and happiness by getting the heck out of London and buying a part-time home in Canada. There are just a few problems.
One major point of contention was how the news was broken. The couple feared the information would get leaked, so they announced it on social media before relaying their final decision to the family. This resulted in an emergency meeting called by the Queen.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office / Flickr
This meeting of the minds that included Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry, and Prince William eventually resulted in the Queen’s public support. Prince Charles, however, had a slightly more complicated perspective on the situation.
shintapostcard / Flickr
His concern was very practical: How, he asked, did the couple plan to become financially independent from the crown? Their yearly stipend as full-time royals was around $6 million, and of course that would change when they made their exit.
Melted Moments / Flickr
Well, the couple secured a trademark for the foundation they started called Sussex Royal. They can brand merchandise with this, potentially earning them a lot of money. Prince Charles had one serious caution about this.
When you’re operating under the royal name, you can’t slap just anything with your label. Only specific products can be endorsed, which could narrow their income possibilities. An inside source sums it up: “no one wants to see the Sussexes’ name on a tub of margarine.”
It is worth mentioning that the Official Royal Gift Shop offers tea, biscuits, jam, wine and chocolates for sale. So, basically everything but margarine seems to be okay to endorse with royal decree.
Royal Collection Shop
Charles makes a fair point with his concerns, but people found it hard to imagine the Duke and Duchess falling into straits too dire. After all, Markle used to pull down $37,000 an episode at Suits and Harry inherited many millions from his late mother.
Meanwhile, rumors swirled about Harry, suggesting that he was feuding with William or Charles or both, which prompted the exit. But, the evidence seemed to the contrary. It looked as though Harry was simply attempting to prevent history from repeating itself.
Instead of feeling powerless and watching Meghan live a life under the constant criticism of the media, he did something about it. Something he couldn’t do for his mother, but could for his wife. Prince Charles just didn’t agree.
Though sources say Charles was “livid” about the news, it didn’t seem like he was holding a grudge. In fact, he started planning to provide them with a still unknown amount of income as they transition to civilian life. Plus, the royal family’s full of surprises.
OnSide Youth Zone
Long before Meghan and Harry rocked the boat, another British royal turned the crown upside down. Princess Margaret was one of the most eligible women on the world stage. Instead of choosing a safe option, she went for Antony Armstrong-Jones.
It’s true, the future Lord Snowdon was born semi well connected. His mother, Anne Messel, was a high-powered attorney who married into nobility by the way of barrister Ronald Armstrong-Jones. Despite his privileged standing, he was far from happy.
A young Antony followed the traditional path for children of British high society — he was sent away to boarding school. His detachment from his family deepened when the poliovirus left him with a permanent leg disability and only his sister visited his sickbed.
Loneliness was something Margaret also understood all too well. Her alienating position as the daughter of a king presented her with endless opportunities. Still, she was always second fiddle to an older sister who was thrust into the role of Queen.
Her every movement was determined by her elder sister, which could sour even the best of sibling relationships. That underlying rivalry, combined with the lesser expectations of her position, pushed Margaret to test the boundaries of what it meant to be royal.
The chain-smoking, fashion-loving, royal younger sister set her sights on a crowd of people typically too bold for a person of her station. Margaret sought the company in the artistic scene, and that’s where she met the photographer Antony.
It was 1958, and Antony Armstrong was known for his cutting edge eye behind the camera. His honest raw portraiture cemented his top status among the London social scene. He also had a reputation as a “modern man” with a penchant for scandalous behavior.
The rebellious streak attracted Margaret immediately, though she didn’t expect to be more than friends. In her biography, she described their first meeting: “I enjoyed his company very much, but I didn’t take a lot of notice of him because I thought he was queer.”
It was well known that Antony was an early adopter of the Swinging ’60s mentality. There were tabloid reports of his numerous flames with men and women. “If it moves, he’ll have it,” a friend of Antony’s remarked about the Earl’s sexual proclivities.
Some of his trysts were with others in the public eye, like actresses Jacqueline Chan and Gina Ward. There was a collective sharp intake of breath after the news eventually broke that he’d fathered a child with his best friend’s wife, Camilla Grinling Fry.
For Antony, a man with many conquests who waded in the poshest circles of attractive men and women, Margaret was an alluring member of a completely different world. Neither could resist pushing the buttons of the royal family together.
Associated Press / The Guardian
One pointed way they caused a stir was with Margaret’s controversial 29th birthday portrait. Tony, as he’s commonly referred, was behind the lens provoking the Princess with questions about her forbidden former lover Peter Townsend.
As portrayed on the Netflix drama The Crown, there’s ambiguity over whether Margaret was nude for the photoshoot, clad only in incredible jewels, or simply wearing a strapless gown. Either way, it was rather provocative.
The Crown / Netflix
In 1960, 300 million people tuned in to watch Princess Margaret exchange wedding vows with Antony, as he gained the title of the First Earl of Snowdon. At the time, no one knew that three weeks later his secret child with Camilla was born.
Unfazed by scandals bubbling beneath the surface, the newlyweds ushered in a different era for the royal family. The public was introduced to a not so stuffy, less buttoned-up Lord and Countess who couldn’t care less if they kicked up rumors for their sexual activities.
They embraced the hedonistic values of the time, befriending musicians, artists, and provocateurs. It made headlines when they watched racy “blue movies.” At dinner, they played the arrogant “bread game” — placing a piece in the center of the table at every instance of verbal cliche.
History in Pictures / Twitter
Even after the births of their children David and Sarah, both parents continued numerous affairs. Eventually, their mutual fascinations faded and the marriage turned ugly. It culminated in personal jabs, like when Lord Snowdon compared Margaret’s appearance to that of a “Jewish manicurist.”
Hulton Archive / Oprah Mag
Guests attending Princess Margaret’s 39th birthday celebration knew things were looking bleak for the couple when Lord Snowdon was witnessed flicking the ashes from his cigarette on his wife’s party dress, and of course, there were growing rumors of his bisexuality.
Sipa Press / The Guardian
When questioned about his sexuality, Lord Snowdon said vaguely, “I didn’t fall in love with boys — but a few men have been in love with me.” Decades later interior designer Nicky Haslam named him as a former love of both himself and designer Tom Parr.
The Globe and Mail
The final straw for their rocky marriage came when photos of a swimsuit-clad Margaret and the man she claimed as only her close friend, Roddy Llewellyn Mustique, made the front pages of the papers. Lord Snowdon took that as his cue to walk away.
On learning the news that her husband had packed his belongings and left, Princess Margaret gave the memorable response, “I think that’s the best news you’ve ever given me.” Meanwhile, she was painted as a cougar and was largely blamed for the split.
The fiery rebelliousness that drew them together led to their drifting apart, though Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon agreed they were better paired as friends. To the chagrin of the Queen, they divorced. But, hey, not everyone’s relationship can whether storms like her own has.
Most royal fans are so amazed by the longevity of Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage that they don’t realize the couple is actually related! Both are descended from Queen Victoria, making them third cousins. Then again, no one would’ve predicted these two would end up together.
Born on the Greek Island of Mon Repos, Philip started off as a Prince of both Greece and Denmark. His family had to flee his birthplace after Turkey took over much of the country. Barely a toddler at the time, Philip remembers little of his native language.
Philip first met Elizabeth at the wedding of his cousin, Princess Marina of Greece. He was 13 and the future Queen was just 8. Naturally, they did not kindle any sort of romantic relationship until many years later.
Not one to shy away from duty, Philip served in the Royal Navy during WWII. He witnessed some truly historic moments too, including Japan’s 1945 surrender in Tokyo Bay, which officially ended the conflict.
When Philip became a naturalized British citizen, he adopted Mountenbattan — the anglicized version of his mother’s maiden name — as his surname. Most people have never heard it because Parliament later ruled that Windsor would remain the last name of the royal family.
In the months before he and Elizabeth married, Philip had a mere 15 cents to his name at the time. So, for a wedding gift, he took a tiara of his mother’s and had it refashioned into a bracelet. The Queen has proudly worn it for decades.
When Elizabeth learned that she’d ascended to the throne, the news came from Philip himself. They were on holiday in Kenya during the passing of her ailing father, King George VI, in 1952. Elizabeth then returned home for his funeral as Queen.
Philip’s behavior on the day Charles was born made a lot of people scratch their heads. After spending the afternoon playing squash with a friend, he finally visited Elizabeth and their son in the hospital. He then quipped that Charles looked like “a plum pudding.”
We only get brief glimpses of how the royal family treats each other. However, researchers for the 2006 film The Queen uncovered one eye-opening secret. Philip has a special pet name for his wife: “Cabbage!” And he’s said far more outrageous things than that…
Whether he’s out-of-touch or just has an offbeat sense of humor, Philip is famous for making insensitive remarks. Highlights include asking aboriginal Australians if they still threw spears at each other, and telling a teen he was too fat to be an astronaut.
Because he married into the monarchy, Philip can never become King under British law. Instead, he’s held the title of Consort of the Queen since 1952. He’s also the oldest male member of the British royal family in history!
Just because Philip doesn’t share the monarchy with Elizabeth doesn’t mean he has no influence — he’s no trophy husband. The Queen has credited him as her “constant strength and guide,” and one 1992 disaster proved just how valuable he was.
That year, a vicious fire broke out in Windsor Castle, damaging large sections of the royal family’s ancestral home. Philip took a lead role in restoring the residence, and after, he and the Queens started paying an income tax to help with funding.
Philip enjoys ruling the skies as much as his kingdom. The Prince earned his wings in the Royal Air Force in 1953, and he’s since got thousands of miles of airtime under his belt. He’s flown all types of crafts too, including helicopters.
Even after his Navy days were long over, Philip had a love for all things nautical. His cherished voyages aboard the Brittania, the royal yacht, saw him circumnavigate the Earth and become the first royal to sail through the Arctic.
Town & Country Magazine
Airplanes and luxury yachts aside, Philip’s favorite way to travel might just be atop a carriage. After he had to give up polo, he took up carriage racing as a hobby. It developed into a fairly popular pastime in the United Kingdom from there.
Never one to sit still, Philip has authored 14 books over his lifetime. Most of his works deal with the environment and the outdoors. That’s no surprise, since his biggest passions in life include hiking, fishing, and bird-watching.
Huffington Post UK
Philip’s artistic ambitions also extend to painting, in which he exercises an impressionistic style. One of his most notable works is a portrait of his wife from 1957 entitled, Her Majesty the Queen at Breakfast.
Well into his 90s, Philip insisted on driving himself. He and the Queen even cruised around with the Obamas when they visited London in 2016. However, Philip reluctantly gave up his license in 2019 after he caused a serious auto collision.
In the summer of 2017, the 96-year-old Philip announced that he would retire from public life. Although he ceased making official visits and speeches, he still attended key royal events, including Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle.
In terms of royal intrigue, Philip may only be rivaled by his son and spitting image, Prince Charles. As he’s waited over 70 years to take the throne, Charles has led quite the interesting life.
Believe it or not, Charles has a soft spot for the common squirrel. Prince William has admitted that his father has named many of the critters around their Scottish estate, and that Charles even lets his favorites into their home.
Although reporters called Charles and Diana’s marriage “The Wedding of the Century,” he didn’t quite agree. Some reports say he wept the night before the ceremony! Whatever lingering doubts the couple had eventually caused them to separate in 1992.
YouTube / Penn Live
Charles’ prize possession is an Aston Martin DB6 MKII, which he got as a 21st birthday present. In 2018, he added an interesting upgrade. Charles made the car more eco-friendly in that it no longer runs on gasoline, but on wine.
Whether he’s presiding over a formal event or lounging in the countryside, the Prince of Wales always dresses to the nines. His fashion sense is so admired that Esquire magazine dubbed him the “World’s Best-Dressed Man” in 2009.
It’s fortunate that Charles has a personal chef at his disposal because he’s quite the picky eater. For example, he’ll only eat eggs that have been boiled for exactly seven minutes. When he visits friends, he’ll often bring his own food rather than accept their hospitality.
The Cheat Sheet
Charles has a fondness for the queen in Buckingham Palace and the ones in a deck of cards! A decently skilled magician, he passed an official examination to join the Magic Circle — a social organization of magicians — in 1975.
Many nobles are patrons of the arts, but Charles cuts out the middleman and does his own paintings! Critics haven’t treated his work with much warmth, but he does sell them for a good cause. He donates all the proceeds to charity.
While at university, Charles developed a huge crush on Barbra Streisand. Being a prince and all, he naturally had the chance to meet her a few times over the years. Rumors of an affair between the two bounced around, but there is no official proof.
An adamant lover of nature, Charles doesn’t just cultivate plants — he also talks to them! Charles has explained that he believes the odd habit helps his garden flourish. He’ll even threaten to toss plants on the compost heap if they don’t flower!
Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch in 2015, so it makes sense that Charles is also the longest-serving heir to the throne. He’s been waiting since 1953, and he wants it as badly as ever in his old age.
Before Charles fell for Diana, he actually dated her sister Sarah for a short time. Their relationship ended when Sarah expressed she had absolutely zero interest in marrying the Prince of Wales.
Like any sensible Briton, Charles is a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. He regularly reads the J.K. Rowling books to his grandchildren, and he even gives a different voice to each character! Now that’s an audiobook that we’d like to hear.
You probably know that it’s not unusual for members of various royal families to find out they’re related. However, Charles has one surprising royal relation. It turns out he’s descended from Vlad the Impaler, a medieval ruler who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Charles’ outspoken support for homeopathic medicine has generated a fair amount of controversy. Doctors in the United Kingdom bristle whenever he encourages their health system to embrace more alternative treatments, like herbal products, that have no proven benefits.
Years ago, Charles discovered that Prince Harry was drinking and smoking marijuana at school. To stop him from going down the wrong path, Charles sent his son to rehab for a day. The shocking experience made him drop his bad habits for good.
Charles has a contentious relationship with his father. Prince Philip pressured him into many big life events, including his attendance of Gordonstoun boarding school and his marriage to Diana Spencer. While Charles is a bleeding-heart romantic, Philip is a proud pragmatist.
Despite his struggles with his father, Charles was extremely close to his grandmother, the Queen Mother. While Philip often criticized Charles’ decisions, she took a supportive stance. When she passed away in 2002, Charles remarked that she meant everything to him.
Charles is a royal, but he’s no Marie Antoinette. He works tirelessly to help the less fortunate and preserve his nation’s history. His myriad of charity efforts raise over $100 million each year.
Did you know that Charles is also a published author? In 1984, he came out with a children’s book entitled, The Old Man of Lochnagar. The story centers around an elderly man who lives in a cave near the royal estate in Balmoral, Scotland.
Perhaps because of his picky eating habits, Charles started his own organic food company. Duchy Originals first hit the shelves in 1990 and has been going strong ever since. Of course, Charles donates a lion’s share of the profits to charity.
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