WINDSOR, England — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will stop using their royal titles, forgo state funding, and repay millions of dollars in taxpayer money used to refurbish their official residence in Windsor, under an agreement announced by Buckingham Palace on Saturday.
The unusual deal, negotiated by representatives of the queen, Harry, and other senior members of the family, is designed to end a crisis that erupted 10 days ago when the couple abruptly announced plans to step back from their royal duties and spend part of the year in North America.
Officials at the palace said that the couple would spend a majority of their time in North America. They will be allowed to earn money in the private sector, though officials said they had agreed that whatever work they pursued would “uphold the values of Her Majesty.”
The agreement takes effect later in the spring, and will be reviewed by the palace after a year, according to a palace official.
Queen Elizabeth II instructed senior members of the royal family this week to come to an agreement with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as the couple are known formally, that would enable them to live part of the year in Canada and support themselves financially.
That directive came after an extraordinary family conclave at the queen’s country residence, Sandringham, during which she said she would reluctantly accept the couple’s desire to relinquish some of their royal duties, forgo a portion of their public funding, and live part of the year in North America.
The drama has plunged the royal family into perhaps its biggest crisis since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the mother of Prince Harry and his older brother, Prince William, in 1997. There have been reports of a bitter rift between the princes and the queen is said to be deeply disappointed with the situation. Meghan, who returned to Canada after her and Harry’s announcement to be with their son, Archie, appears to be increasingly isolated.
Hammering out terms for Prince Harry and Meghan to shift to “part-time” status was never going to be easy. The couple draw millions of dollars a year from Harry’s father, Prince Charles, through his income from the Duchy of Cornwall. The state also provides extensive police security for the pair, and those arrangements would come under scrutiny if they were no longer working on behalf of the royal family.
Allowing the couple to make money privately also raises thorny questions about the risks of commercializing the monarchy. Other members of the royal family who have tried to enter the private sector have stumbled.
Prince Harry on Thursday made his first public appearance since the situation unfolded, presiding over a draw for the Rugby League World Cup at Buckingham Palace. He looked tense under the glare of cameras but appeared to loosen up as he joked with a group of children playing rugby outside the palace.
The duchess, who is staying at a sprawling estate on Vancouver Island in Canada where the couple spent the Christmas holidays, was spotted picking up a friend at the airport on Thursday, according to The Daily Mail. She was also photographed earlier in the week meeting with the administrative staff of a women’s shelter in Vancouver.