THIS is a huge step down the pecking order for Harry and Meghan.
Make no mistake, dropping their HRH titles is a landmark move.
By turning their backs on the royal family, Harry and Meghan are willing;y taking a huge step down in the pecking order
The loss of their HRH titles might not seem like a big deal, but inside the Royal Family it is a huge deal
And as Diana discovered, life outside of the Windsor bubble is not all it is cracked up to be
The disappearance of those initials next to their names although technically they still have them might not mean much to you and I.
But inside the Royal Family it is a huge deal.
The writing was on the wall when the Queen in her statement referred to Harry and Meghan rather than their royal highnesses.
The loss of HRH greatly diminishes the couples royal pulling power as Wallis Simpson realised when King George VI refused to give her the title.
The American socialite wrote to her future husband the Duke of Windsor: It is all a great pity because I loathed being undignified and also of joining the countless titles that roam around Europe meaning nothing.
Yesterday, short of giving Harry and Meghan a kiss and a hug, the Queen waved them a fond farewell as they started their new life outside the Royal Family.
If she had given them a packed lunch as well, she couldnt have been warmer as she announced they were stepping down from royal duties and paying for the renovations to their UK home, Frogmore Cottage.
Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved members of my family, she said, echoing the hope of the whole Royal Family that the pair can build a happy and peaceful new life.
Her Majesty indicated that she has been aware of the issues facing the couple for some time.
Discussions about their future role have taken place over the past few MONTHS, rather than weeks.
I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family, she added.
Notably, she singled out Meghan who has borne the brunt of media criticism for their seemingly abrupt departure for special praise.
The Queen said she was particularly proud of how quickly Meghan had become part of the family.
She also thanked them for their dedicated work in Britain and beyond while supporting their wish for a more independent life.
Paying back 2.4million for the refurbishment of Frogmore House which they will rent as their base here and no longer receiving public funds will head off critics who claimed they were opting out of royal duties while still taking taxpayers money.
The Queen has given them a fair wind, as the Sussexes set sail for a new life, destination unknown.
Several intriguing questions remain, including whether the decision not to use their HRH titles will affect their pulling power.
Well, it didnt seem to affect Diana much. She lost the HRH when she divorced Prince Charles in 1996. If anything, her profile increased as an independent woman.
But she had been on the royal stage for 16 years before her tragic death. Meghan has been part of that scene for just a couple.
Financially, Harry and Meghan have millions in the bank. The prince got 10million from his mothers estate when he was 30.
Andrew Morton says Diana would have found William and Harry’s feud deeply troubling
Diana always said she had given birth to two boys for a reason to give each other mutual support
Apparently Prince Charles took a step back when it came to the disciplining of his sons
Phillip was the family enforcer and he convinced Harry and William to walk behind their mothers coffin at her funeral
And Meghan cashed in when her TV show Suits went big-time. Going forward, they must carefully avoid being seen to cash in on their status.
Dianas spirit has hung over this royal crisis like a shroud. She arguably did more to wreck AND reform the Royal Family than anyone since the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936.
She would have been torn by the events of recent months. It was one thing to put the boot into her philandering husband. It would be quite another to watch her beloved sons at each others throats.
THE HEIR AND THE SPARE
When I was writing her biography, Diana always said she had given birth to two boys for a reason to give each other mutual support.
Harrys a back-up, in the nicest possible way, she told me. William is going to be in his position much earlier than people think now.
So the public bust-up between the heir and one-time spare would have been deeply troubling.
In the old days, Prince Philip, who has now retired, would have been the family enforcer, convincing them to take the most responsible road.
It was their grandfather who urged them to walk behind their mothers coffin at her funeral.
By contrast, Charles invariably left the disciplining of his children to his staff.
A former courtier told me that if the boys usually Harry did not want to attend an engagement, Charles would say in exasperation, You deal with it, then get back to listening to Wagner.
Diana would be doing everything she could to heal the wound. She would be knocking heads together, while understanding that only another prince knows what it is like to be raised as such.
They have a unique bond. It is better for the long-term health of the monarchy to have brothers in arms rather than brothers at war.
At the same time, Diana would have immense sympathy for Meghan and Harry, especially Meghan.
Just like the American actress, Diana had been married to Charles for just a year or so before she was accused of being a fiend and a monster, who had driven out her husbands closest allies and longest-serving staff.
At the time she was in the midst of what she called her dark ages, suffering from an eating disorder and depression.
She was in no state to lay down the law. Like Meghan, she found the royal world stifling, the rules and regulations tiresome. There was no one outside that world to take up the cudgels on her behalf.
By contrast, Meghan had a ready-made court of Hollywood celebrities George and Amal Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and so on who repaid their wedding invitations by speaking up for her.
In the end, that didnt help her cause. Over the past few months Meghan became increasingly eager to get out of royal Dodge.
A TYPICAL SPENCER
But as Diana discovered, freedom is not all it is cracked up to be.
After her separation, and subsequent divorce from Charles, Diana struggled to fly solo outside the Royal Family.
Diana was a typical Spencer – reckless and impetuous, making decisions without heeding the consequences
Now it seems history is repeating itself as her youngest son breaks the rules laid down by other people
For a long time she floundered, lacking direction and focus. In December 1993 she threw in the towel, announcing her withdrawal from public life.
That dramatic gesture captured the worlds attention.
Diana was a typical Spencer, reckless and impetuous, making decisions without heeding the consequences.
It was a trait that had her private secretary, Patrick Jephson, pulling his hair out.
Her great friend Dr James Colthurst, who acted as an intermediary when we were writing Dianas biography, always advised her to go to something rather than just leave something.
She didnt listen, and with Harry, history appears to be repeating itself.
But as they say, history is not made by reasonable people. Harry, like Diana, is a Spencer to his ginger roots, breaking the rules laid down by other people.
Diana didnt have all the answers when she drew back from royal life. Neither do Harry and Meghan. But they have each other.
Life outside the Windsor bubble will be tricky to navigate, as it was for Diana.
After abdicating, the Duke of Windsor raised money by writing books, appearing on TV and commentating on royal events.
There were even rumours they were paid to turn up at charity events.
THEY AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET
Harry acting as his wifes agent as a royal event, trying to land her voiceover work, was too close to this territory for comfort.
Money, including how Meghan and Harry make it, has been central to family discussions. The millions they have in the bank should keep the wolf from the door.
Meghan, who formerly made her dough through acting, her blog, as a brand ambassador and via 15,300-a-pop personal appearances, has always been careful with her cash.
Having lived much of her adult life with little, when she got her big break on Suits she was determined to make the most of it.
With control of their image and legions of followers on Instagram, the couple are well-placed to earn.
They believe that with financial self-sufficiency and work for progressive causes, they will find fulfilment while staying true to their beliefs.
Yet if they thought they were under scrutiny before, they aint seen nothing yet. Finding a lasting solution will be like threading a needle in a force-ten gale.
In uncanny anticipation of their tricky journey, Diana made a telling remark about her own life. It rings true today for the new royal rebels.
At a reception at Londons Serpentine Gallery, she was chatting to the actor Jeremy Irons.
He told her: Ive taken a year off acting. Diana smiled and replied: So have I.
She meant she had given up pretence and toeing the Palace line. At last, she was free to be her own person.
Welcome to the real world, Meghan and Harry.
- Andrew Morton is the author of Diana, Her True Story and Meghan: A Hollywood Princess.
Now the Queen has wished Harry and Meghan the best on their new journey
His mother didnt have all the answers when she drew back from royal life and neither do Harry and Meghan, but they have each other