Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were forced to return £7m in wedding gifts - but rules have changed since stepping down

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were active members of the Royal family, they had to adhere to numerous rules due to their taxpayer-funded status.

However, their decision in 2020 to step back and strive for "financial independence" brought about a significant change in their lives, freeing them from many of the protocols that once governed their actions - including those related to accepting gifts.

The Royal Family is bound by stringent rules regarding the acceptance of gifts or presents from the public and private companies, reports the Mirror.

This is to ensure that the gift does not compromise the royals themselves, thereby safeguarding the institution of the monarchy as a whole.

Now private citizens, Meghan and Harry are no longer obliged to follow such rules.

This allowed them to keep £7m worth of wedding gifts that they would have had to return in 2018, as they no longer represent the crown officially and do not receive any public funding.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex walk down the west steps of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor
Meghan and Harry reportedly received £7m worth of wedding gifts they had to retun ( Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images) -Credit:POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Meghan and Harry, who tied the knot in May 2018, were showered with gifts from the public despite their request for donations to their favourite charities instead of wedding presents.

However, due to safety reasons, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were unable to keep these tokens of goodwill.

In addition, numerous companies reportedly sent wedding gifts to the couple, which they had to return.

This was due to Royal protocol stating that no gifts should be accepted that could potentially obligate the Royal Family member to the donor.

If a royal receives a company's gift, it could be seen as a form of advertising - after all, it's publicity for a company if a Royal is spotted using their product.

However, this is deemed inappropriate, and any such gifts would need to be returned.

In Meghan and Harry's case, this amounted to a whopping £7m worth of items after their Windsor nuptials.

During their recent trip to Nigeria, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not bound by the usual Royal gift protocols, allowing them to keep any thoughtful presents they received.

They were notably delighted to receive traditional Nigerian attire.

Additionally, Prince Harry was gifted a touching portrait of himself as a child with his late mother, Princess Diana, and a beautiful painting of him and Meghan, both of which they would probably be eager to retain as cherished keepsakes from their "unforgettable" journey, for which they expressed the "deepest gratitude".

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