Harry and Meghan 'cheapening' UK royal family, says Thomas Markle

Buckingham Palace announced the couple would no longer be using their ‘Royal Highness’ titles

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Prince Harry and Meghan have "cheapened" the British monarchy, her estranged father Thomas Markle said on Sunday as Buckingham Palace announced that the couple would no longer be working members of the royal family.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth said on Saturday that her grandson and his wife, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, would no longer use their “Royal Highness” titles or receive public funds for their work.

The palace statement was made after just over a week of talks following a surprise statement by Harry and Meghan that they intended to step back as senior royals.

The Sussexes said they were seeking “progressive new roles” which would see them combine some royal duties with private work. But the statement ruled this out.

The couple will be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. They have also agreed to repay £2.4 million (Dh11.4m) spent by British taxpayers on renovating their home Frogmore Cottage, near Windsor Castle.

epa08140838 Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after a service at St Mary the Virgin church, Hillington, Norfolk, Britain, 19 January 2020. Buckingham Palace announced yesterday that Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex will have their royal titles removed as they step back from royal duties.  EPA/WILL OLIVER

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said the palace’s announcement showed that the Queen was “reasserting herself” after a bad few months for the monarchy, which saw her son Prince Andrew embroiled in a scandal over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

"There was definitely a feeling that things had got out of control," Mr Fitzwilliams told The National. "Meghan and Harry's idea was to be some sort of half-in, half-out royals and the Queen wanted to rule that out."

He added that if the couple had continued to perform royal duties while earning money privately “every single thing that they did would have been microscopically examined”.

The monarch, 93, said she was pleased that “a constructive and supportive way forward” had been found for the couple and their nine-month-old son.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” the Queen said, making particular mention of how proud she was that Meghan had quickly become one of the family.

Meghan's father had less favourable things to say about the former actress, who became famous for her role in US TV series Suits.

Mr Markle told British broadcaster Channel 5 that Meghan and Harry had taken an obligation “to be part of the royals and to represent the royals”.

“This is like one of the greatest long-living institutions ever,” he said in extracts from an interview released on Sunday. “They are destroying it, they are cheapening it, they’re making it shabby … They are turning it into a Walmart with a crown of it now. It is something that is ridiculous, they shouldn’t be doing this.”