Meghan Markle and Prince Harry could change their minds and decide to return to royal duties if Buckingham Palace were to review their situation down the line. Insider spoke to royal experts, who explained that the royal family could be leaving the door open for the duke and duchess to return. "It may well be that Harry's military links, which he will be sorry to forgo, especially that of Captain General of the Royal Marines, will remain vacant during that time just in case there is a rethink," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Insider. However, Marlene Koenig, a royal expert for History Extra, told Insider that "the media would be without mercy" if the couple were to return. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's decision to resign from their royal duties and become financially independent could be up for review in just a year's time, according to royal experts. Although Buckingham Palace has not officially commented on what this means for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, one possibility is that they could decide to return to royal life after this transitional period. "Harry and Meghan's choice of independence seems completely clear at the moment," Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, told Insider.
"However, no one can predict the future with any certainty and the Queen, having released a statement after the Sandringham Summit confirming that they will not use their royal titles and will step down from royal duties but remain members of the royal family, wisely allowed for a reassessment of the situation after a year." Currently, the couple and their son, Archie, are spending time in Canada amid reports that staff at their Frogmore Cottage base in the UK have been relocated. Insider spoke to royal experts about the possibility that Harry and Markle could one day step back into their senior roles. Harry and Markle aren't the first couple to try and step back from the royal family Years before, another royal couple tried to earn their own living while simultaneously representing the Queen. But unlike Markle and Harry — who completely resigned from royal duties when they were told this wouldn't be possible — Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, gave up their passion projects for royal life back in 2002. "When Prince Edward married Sophie, she was successful and she worked in PR, and he ran his own production company [Ardent]," Marlene Koenig, a royal expert for History Extra, told Insider.
"The Queen agreed to allow the couple to work at their careers with some royal duties ... this worked for a bit but it all came crashing down in 2001," Koenig added, in reference to the News of the World journalist who went undercover as a potential client for Sophie's PR firm. "It was a real embarrassment for Sophie who made some awful comments about politicians, and it seemed that she was using her position to get high paying clients," she said. "That summer, new guidelines were issued for royals who wanted to do commercial work and be working royals." The couple then gave up their careers "on the pretense that they would be supporting the queen on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee," Koenig added.
According to a report by Mail Online from 2002, the Queen paid Edward and Sophie $324,888 (£250,000) as compensation for loss of earnings after they announced plans to step down from their companies and spend more time on royal duties. Edward had spent a decade in business before making the decision to resign as Ardent's director of production and joint managing director. "Working and playing hard is fine as long as it is fun and rewarding," Edward said at the time, according to the Mail. "The opportunity to set up and run my own company has been the biggest challenge I have faced and yet has turned out to be enormous fun, immensely rewarding and full of surprises. "Yet I always knew in the back of my mind that one day things would have to change. Well, that day has come, not just for me, but also for my wife. "It is quite obvious that in this year, the Golden Jubilee, we are required more than ever to support the Queen and to help my family shoulder some of the increasing responsibilities and workload into the future," he added. While royal experts don't think it's likely, they say the royal family could leave the door open for Harry and Meghan to return When Prince Harry gave up his royal duties, he also gave up his military titles. Fitzwilliams argues that these may be left vacant in case the duke changes his mind before the review.
"It may well be that Harry's military links, which he will be sorry to forgo, especially that of Captain General of the Royal Marines, will remain vacant during that time just in case there is a rethink," Fitzwilliams said. "Since — apart from Harry's role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador — they will keep their patronages, were they to reassess their priorities, this could in theory be accommodated." However, Fitzwilliams added that "this would appear at the moment to be highly unlikely." "I don't think it will happen, [however] I do expect them to attend some of the big events, such as Beatrice's wedding or a service of thanksgiving, perhaps even the Trooping the Colour, appearing on the balcony with other members of the family," Koenig said. "I think Meghan found her voice being muted as a working royal so now she will have more opportunity to do good on hers and Harry's terms," she added. However, the British press wouldn't be as forgiving Koenig added that if the couple changed their minds, "the royal family would certainly welcome them back with open arms." "But the media would be without mercy," she said. "I would expect comments about tails between their legs."
The couple have been locked in a battle with the British press since before Markle even married into the family. In 2016, Harry issued a statement condemning "the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments." The royal family's relationship with the press may have been one of the couple's deciding factors leading them to resign this year. The duke and duchess announced on their Sussex Royal website that they would no longer partake in the "royal rota," a system that allows a rotation of British newspapers and tabloids to attend their engagements. The couple wrote on their site that they "believe in a free, strong and open media industry, which upholds accuracy and fosters inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance." Kerry Daynes, a consultant forensic psychologist who often appears in the media, previously told Insider that she has been asked questions designed to achieve a negative and misleading response about Markle. "I have been asked (by British, more right-wing media) to comment on Harry and Meghan in my capacity as an expert in coercive control," Daynes told Insider. "I have been asked leading questions along the lines of, 'Can you confirm that isolating someone from their family is a tactic used by controlling partners?'" Not to mention, Markle launched a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday after it published a letter she sent to her estranged father last year. This could further prove the couple's resolution to cut ties with their royal duties. However, as Fitzwilliams said, no "one can predict the future with any certainty," and Harry and Markle may one day decide to step back into their former roles. Perhaps this would seem more probable if the Queen were to change the royal family's media guidelines. Although this may seem unlikely (after all, the royal rota has been running successfully for more than 40 years) it's not impossible. For the first time, Her Majesty publicly acknowledged the brutal press treatment the couple have received in a rare statement made when they resigned. "I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life," she said. Therefore, while there would likely have to be this essential factor in place before the duke and duchess considered returning to their roles, there's nothing to say it couldn't happen. Read more: Racism in the British media may have been a driving force behind Meghan Markle's 'step back' from the royal family Rare photos of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton that the British press may not want you to see Meghan Markle's departure from the royal family means it's Kate Middleton's 'time to shine,' according to a royal expertJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Apple forever changed the biggest tech event of the year by not showing up