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Between the Lines

How Meghan and Harry’s ‘resignation’ letter took a swipe at Kate and had a hidden message about Archie’s upbringing

THE Royal Family were blindsided when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were quitting as senior royals last night.

But while carefully worded, the statement released by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex reveals more than it initially seemed, according to psychologist Jo Hemmings.

 Harry and Meghan have released a statement confirming they will no longer be in the UK full time
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Harry and Meghan have released a statement confirming they will no longer be in the UK full timeCredit: Instagram

Hidden messages in the text reveal subtle digs at other members of the Royal Family and the institution itself, as well as hints about their struggle with mental health.

Experts say there's also a jibe about 35-year-old Harry's upbringing - and references to their plans to raise Archie in a different way.

Here Jo decodes the 'resignation' letter from the royal couple.

Meghan's struggles to fit into 'old-fashioned' family

The opening paragraph of Harry and Meghan's statement claims they want to "carve out a progressive new role within this institution".

While the language seems tame enough, the phrasing suggests the couple see themselves as the game-changers in an archaic institution which is overly-resistant to change.

 Meghan wells up as she admits her 'struggle' on the ITV documentary
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Meghan wells up as she admits her 'struggle' on the ITV documentary

Jo says: "Wanting to ‘carve out a progressive new role’ suggests that they think the Royal Family is out of date and out of touch.

"It also suggests the beginning of the end of their involvement in royal life.

‘Within this institution’ is about as formal and pompous as it can get, language-wise, when referring to the Royal Family – again hinting that they don’t feel comfortable being part of something so archaic."

The use of the term "reflection and internal discussions" is also a nod to the mental health struggles that both have hinted at over the last year.

Wanting to ‘carve out a progressive new role’ suggests that they think the Royal Family is out of date and out of touch

Jo HemmingsPsychologist

In the ITV documentary, Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, which aired in October, the 38-year-old Duchess fought back tears as she spoke about her struggles as a new mum, a newlywed and a new member of the family.

After Tom Bradby asked if she was "OK", she said: "Thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I’m OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."

Harry also hinted at his own ongoing grief over the death of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was just 11, saying it was a "festering wound."

 Harry admitted his trauma over mum Diana's death is a 'festering wound'
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Harry admitted his trauma over mum Diana's death is a 'festering wound'Credit: PA:Press Association

Feeling 'squeezed out' of the family

The statement frequently expresses support for the Queen but the use of quotation marks when stating their intention to "step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent" signals they are not happy playing second fiddle to Prince William.

Jo says: "The use of quotation marks indicates that they feel they are pretty peripheral really and have been squeezed out of any, genuinely senior roles.

"Bring 'financially independent' must ultimately involve them relinquishing their royal titles, protection and home.

"I am not sure that they realise this is likely to happen. Their support for The Queen seems to just be saying that they are not going to cut all ties with the Royal Family and that they have a special fondness and respect for her."

 Photos such as these, showing the line of succession, may have left the Sussexes feeling 'squeezed out'
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Photos such as these, showing the line of succession, may have left the Sussexes feeling 'squeezed out'Credit: PA:Press Association

'Stifling' upbringing of William's kids

Prince Harry grew up in the bosom of the Royal family, at Highgrove and Kensington Palace, and went to the private Ludgrove School in Berkshire then Eton.

While the announcement states his son Archie - born in May 2019 - will be brought up with an "appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born", he clearly wants to distance him from the day-to-day pressures of royal life.

Jo says: "The reference to Archie being raised in the royal tradition, but needing space, seems to reflect both Harry's continued mental health struggles about the way his mother was treated and how he was brought up - as well as implying that William and Kate’s children are being brought up in a stifling, old-fashioned and unhealthy environment."

 Prince Harry and Meghan with baby Archie in Cape Town, in September
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Prince Harry and Meghan with baby Archie in Cape Town, in SeptemberCredit: PA:Press Association
 Harry is hoping his son will have a very different childhood to his own
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Harry is hoping his son will have a very different childhood to his ownCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
 The Duke of Sussex with baby Archie in a photo posted on Instagram on New Year's Eve
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The Duke of Sussex with baby Archie in a photo posted on Instagram on New Year's EveCredit: PA:Press Association
 Kate and William's children George, Charlotte and Louis, may have been in their thoughts
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Kate and William's children George, Charlotte and Louis, may have been in their thoughtsCredit: PA:Press Association

Harry and Meghan's statement in full

A personal message from The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

"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."

Swipe at Kate?

Harry's close relationship with older brother Prince William has taken a battering since his wedding, and there have been talks of rifts between Meghan and Kate Middleton.

In June, the Sussexes announced they would split from Heads Up, the mental health charity they had fronted with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

And while yesterday's statement said they would collaborate with the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, it appeared to dismiss Kate as one of the "relevant parties".

Jo says: "'All relevant parties’? The Duchess of Cambridge is not even mentioned, implying a quite serious rift there.

"Also, the fact that the others are all referred to by their titles, not father, brother and grandmother – indicates quite a distant and not necessarily harmonious ‘collaboration’."

 The 'Fab four' - William, Kate, Harry and Meghan - stopped working together amid rumours of a rift
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The 'Fab four' - William, Kate, Harry and Meghan - stopped working together amid rumours of a riftCredit: AFP or licensors
 Kate was not mentioned by name
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Kate was not mentioned by nameCredit: Getty - Contributor

Lack of encouragement

The announcement states: "It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment".

But Jo says the hidden message is exactly the opposite.

"The first sentence is a nonsense," she says. "Surely, it’s been the very lack of perceived encouragement that has brought them to the decision to make this adjustment?"

 The couple currently live at Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Windsor Castle but will be spending more time in North America
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The couple currently live at Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Windsor Castle but will be spending more time in North AmericaCredit: Alamy

Palace response is 'brief but furious'

The Queen was said to be "deeply upset" and Charles and William "incandescent with rage" over the announcement, which came as a bombshell after she had asked Prince Harry to hold fire.

Buckingham Palace responded with a terse statement saying that "discussions" were "at an early stage" and that there were "complicated issues" to work through.

Jo says: "It’s a brief, but furious statement. It is making clear that Harry and Meghan pre-empted the protocol of a formal family discussion and that the Palace is not happy with them doing it.

"In my view, it was disrespectful to the Royal Family to do it in such haste, forcing them to make a public statement, they were unprepared for. It’s a seriously big ticking off!"

 The terse statement from the Palace was a serious 'ticking off'
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The terse statement from the Palace was a serious 'ticking off'Credit: Buckingham Palace
 The Queen was said to be incandescent with rage
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The Queen was said to be incandescent with rageCredit: AFP and licensors
Royal photographer Arthur Edwards says 'Harry is doing what he's told' as the Sussexes announce they're standing down as senior royals
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