LONDON — Prince Harry was stripped of his honorary military titles and royal patronage appointments, Buckingham Palace said on Friday, cementing the split between him and the royal family that opened up last year when he and his wife, Meghan, announced that they wanted to step back from their official duties.
Meghan will also give up her patronage appointments, the palace said in a statement, noting that Queen Elizabeth II would parcel out the titles and appointments to other family members. The decision came after conversations between Harry, who now lives in California, and his grandmother, the queen.
“In stepping away from the work of the royal family,” the palace said of Harry and Meghan, “it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.”
The announcement, which was widely expected, underscored the deep personal rupture between the family and Harry, who is sixth in line for the throne, that followed his fairy-tale wedding to Meghan, an American actress, in May 2018.
“While we are saddened by their decision,” the statement added, “the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.”
The queen allowed the couple to keep the titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex, one of their last royal perquisites, after a severance deal under which they gave up the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness and agreed to stop using the word royal in their commercial and charitable ventures.
The agreement, which was hammered out in January 2020 at the queen’s country estate, allowed for a review after a year — a provision that some in the family hoped would allow the couple to rethink their decision to leave, according to people with ties to the palace.
But on Friday the palace said Harry had told the queen that “they will not be returning as working members of the royal family.”
Far from second thoughts, Harry and Meghan seem to have embraced their new lives. They moved into a palatial house in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, Calif., struck lucrative programming deals with Netflix and Spotify, and are expanding their own family, which now includes a son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, who is nearly 2.
On Sunday, they announced that Meghan was expecting their second child. It was joyful news for the couple after she suffered a miscarriage last July that she wrote about in stark terms for The New York Times.
For Harry, giving up his military titles will be painful, people who follow the royal family said. He served as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan and reveres his ties to the military. But the queen was never prepared to accept the half-in, half-out arrangement that Harry and Meghan proposed when they announced last year that they wanted to step back and spend part of the year living outside Britain.
Even now, a year later, it is clear that the wounds from the split have not fully healed. The duke and duchess released a statement indicating that it had not been their choice to give up their titles and patronage appointments.
Among Harry’s titles, he served as the Captain General of the Royal Marines. Meghan was patron of the National Theater.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role,” the statement said. “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
Buckingham Palace is now steeling itself for further disclosures about Meghan’s rocky introduction to the family. CBS has announced that Oprah Winfrey will interview the couple for a prime-time program that will air on March 7.