A public relations expert has said the decision of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to “step back” as senior royals was “as seismic” as the abdication of Edward VIII.
Harry and Meghan announced their shock decision in a statement on Wednesday night, adding that they will work to become “financially independent”, while continuing to “fully support” the Queen.
The couple also announced that they plan to “balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages”.
PR expert Mark Borkowski, who has worked with Noel Edmonds and Graham Norton, told the PA news agency: “This is what was always going to be the case, I think.
“I think Meghan never quite understood what it was to be at the front and centre of the royal family, married to perhaps one of the most famous young royals, and, you know, really couldn’t take the protocol and started to create the Sussex royal brand, very powerfully and linked very much to what they thought was important – mental health, many of the other charitable aspects.
“And gradually they were, and we saw that with the announcement of the birth of their child, they didn’t play to royal protocol and they suffered the slings and arrows of all that, action from the media who clearly found it odd in the way that they were communicating the birth and communicating news on Instagram and not playing the game.
“I think what’s actually happened is they’ve suffered a lot of negative PR. They want to do good and they’ve separated themselves.”
Mr Borkowski suggested that the Sussex “brand” could rival that of the House of Windsor.
🇨🇦 The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Canada House yesterday, the home of Canada’s High Commission in London. Together they met The High Commissioner and other members of her team to talk about the partnership between the UK and Canada. The Duke and Duchess also viewed a special exhibition in the Canada Gallery, by Indigenous Canadian artist, Skawennati. 🧑🏽🎨🎨
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He added: “Harry loves Meghan and can see what she’s going through and, influenced also by what he saw, what he experienced with his mother, he didn’t want to see the woman he loves go through it.
“They’ve had their time to think about it and they’re now separated totally from the royal family and we will now see the Sussex brand, you know, and we’ll see something which is going to be a very powerful foundation or brand outside the royal family.
“And that’s possibly the most dangerous thing for the royal brand. Could they become more potent? Could they have a world focus in a way the House of Windsor can’t?”
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
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Mr Borkowski said Meghan and Harry stand to make “a fortune” due to the demand for the Sussex brand in countries such as China, India and the US.
He said: “They are going to, they have to make a lot of money to fuel the lifestyle and everything that they need.
“It’s not that easy to separate yourself, security issues alone are enormous, and they are a target for security – how they live, how they operate.
“I think around the world – China, America, South East Asia, India, parts of Europe – people will be falling over to get brand connections with them. They will make a fortune.”
Following the announcement, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said in a statement that the palace understood “their desire to take a different approach” and added that “these are complicated issues that will take time to work through”.