‘Prince Popular’ takes back seat
STRIFE WITH MEDIA AND STRAIN OF PUBLIC LIFE BEHIND WHAT PRESS DUBS ‘MEGXIT’
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will step back from senior roles in Britain’s royal family and spend more time in North America, they said on Wednesday – an announcement that took his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, by surprise.
WHO ARE HARRY AND MEGHAN? Royal birth
Prince Harry, 35, is the second son of Prince Charles, heir to the throne, and his first wife Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi. For many Britons, one of the enduring images of Diana’s funeral was Harry, then aged 12, and William walking behind the funeral cortege to Westminster Abbey.
Harry is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth. He is sixth-in-line to the throne. Born in 1984 and named Henry Charles Albert David, he was educated at the exclusive Eton College.
Harry was portrayed as a royal wild child and playboy prince and in 2002, he admitted to smoking cannabis and getting drunk when underage in a pub near the royal family’s country estate.
His father sent him to a drug rehabilitation clinic in London for a day to give him a glimpse of the dangers of drug abuse. Harry later scuffled with paparazzi outside a London nightclub and sparked outrage by dressing as a Nazi officer at a costume party.
He turned around his image after joining the army and spending time on the frontline fighting in Afghanistan.
His easy-going manner with the public has made him one of the most popular members of the royal family.
He spent 10 years in the military, a role where he felt he could be himself, without the media scrutiny or any of the other trappings of his gilded upbringing.
Known in the army as Captain Harry Wales, the prince started officer training at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2005. He undertook his first tour of Afghanistan in late 2007 and then trained as an Apache attack helicopter pilot.
He went on a second Afghan tour as an Apache pilot between September 2012 and January 2013, but quit frontline military roles for a desk job.
He left in 2015 to focus on royal duties and charity work, particularly the welfare of military veterans, continuing his mother’s work helping those with Aids, and mental health issues.
He made front pages in 2012 when he was photographed partying naked and playing billiards in a private room in Las Vegas, later saying he had been “too much army and not enough prince”.
Harry and Meghan Markle, 38, an American divorcee, met on a blind date in London and married in May 2018.
Markle was born in Los Angeles in 1981. Her father was a TV lighting director for soaps and sitcoms and her mother a clinical therapist.
In 2011, she married film producer Trevor Engelson but they divorced two years later. Meghan appeared in a number of TV shows and films, but achieved greatest fame for her role as Rachel Zane in the ongoing Suits series.
Their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in May last year.
In his first public acknowledgement they were dating, Harry complained about the way the British media treated Meghan. He referred to the sexism and racism directed at Markle, whose father is white and mother African-American.
The strains of public life were showing: relations with the British media collapsed and there was talk of tension with his brother William.
In October, Harry said the couple had taken legal action against the Mail on Sunday in response to what he called “bullying” by some sections of the British press.
Days later, Harry sued the publishers of Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper and the Daily Mirror over allegations of phone-hacking, relating to events that happened before Harry and Meghan met.
“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they said in a statement on Wednesday. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent.” –
TENSIONS BUILDS. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, in Johannesburg last year during an official visit to South Africa.
SHOCKED REACTION. UK newspapers lead with stories on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after their bombshell announcement on Thursday.
BREAK FROM SCRUTINY. Prince Harry serving in Afghanistan in 2012.