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People devoted its cover story to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s decision to step back from their roles as senior royal family members this week—and the outlet got some stark quotes from sources about what led the couple to decide enough is enough.
The British tabloids’ unrelenting attacks on them was part of the reason. But the royal family’s treatment of Meghan and Harry during the past two years also contributed. A friend said that their statement expressing their intent to step back wasn’t their first-choice way of breaking the news. (ITV reported that the two decided to post the Instagram after The Sun published a report that they were considering moving to Canada. Aides asked Harry to write out his requests, and Harry had been weary of doing so because he was afraid they’d leak. But he did, they were leaked by someone in the palace to The Sun, and that was it. Meghan and Harry pulled the trigger.)
“This is not how they wanted to handle this, but Meghan and Harry’s hand was forced,” a friend told People. “There is so much bad blood in that family—it’s toxic. If relationships had been better, things would have been different.”
Meghan was very affected by the way those around her and in the British press treated her like an outsider because she is American and biracial. A source close to the royal household told People that she was “deeply, deeply hurt,” by it, and the royal family didn’t do much to help. “Meghan and Harry didn’t feel they got enough comfort or solace from them,” the source said. So they’re out, with the Queen’s blessing to no longer be full-time royal family members.
As the Queen said in her statement, “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wishes to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”