Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s US election intervention ‘violated’ the terms of the ‘Megxit’ deal the couple have the Queen, according to senior royal aides.
Their comments could further risk their links to the monarchy, with sources claiming that senior courtiers are discussing how to further distance London royals from the couple.
In their message, Harry and Meghan called on American voters to ‘reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity’ in ‘the most important election of our life.’
Their comments, which came in a Time 100 video to go with the publication of this year’s list of the most influential people, have been widely interpreted to be a swipe at U.S. president Donald Trump. The list does not include the royal couple.
Members of the royal family are supposed to be politically neutral, and under the Sandringham accord – agreed in March when the pair quit their royal duties – the Sussexes vowed that ‘everything they do will uphold the values of Her Majesty’.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spoke out about the upcoming U.S. election, in a stark break with British tradition that prohibits royal involvement in politics. Senior sources suggest that in doing so, the couple broke their agreement with The Queen
However, according to The Sunday Times, royal aides have said that the couple’s comments last week have broken their promise from earlier this year.
‘The [royal] family are all wringing their hands, thinking: where is this going and does this abide by the deal to uphold the values of the Queen? The feeling is it’s a violation of the agreement,’ one source told the newspaper.
The sources say that if the agreement is deemed to have been violated, Prince Harry’s chances of resuming his connections to the Royal Marines and other military posts he is said to hold dear could be under threat.
The arrangement the Sussexes have with the royal family will be reviewed after a year by The Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge.
The Times reports that the Queen agreed to keep the positions vacated by Prince Harry open during the review period so that he could return if it was deemed appropriate. One such position is the captain general of the Royal Marines.
‘The door was left open,’ said one aide. ‘There were some things that Harry hoped he could opt back into. He dearly wants to hang on to the Royal Marines and the military appointments. That will be harder now.’ This will likely come as a blow to the Prince.
The couples’ roles as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust is also expected to come under review, and conversations last week reportedly even included whether they could be stripped of their HRH titles.
Currently, Harry and Meghan still have these titles, but are not allowed to use them.
However, one source told The Times that the view is they couldn’t remove Harry’s title, pointing to the fact that even Edward VIII kept his HRH when he abdicated.
Royal sources claim that the Monarchy was embarrassed by the couple’s comments, with one senior aide questioning what The Queen would say to Donald Trump should he make another visit to the UK after her grandson and his wife spoke out against him
Buckingham palace sough to distance itself from their remarks, with royal sources saying that the monarch had been embarrassed by the comments, asking what the Queen is supposed to say should Donald Trump have another presidential visit.
‘If Trump is re-elected and makes another visit here, what is the Queen supposed to say when her grandson and his wife have effectively campaigned against him?’ said a source.
A spokesman for the Sussexes said: ‘The duke’s message is not in reference to any specific political party or candidate, but is instead a call for decency in how we engage with each other.’
Harry and Meghan, now ensconced in an L.A. mansion, made their remarks just weeks before the November 3 elections with Americans in some states already going to the polls.
The Duke of Sussex urged people to ‘reject hate speech’ while the Duchess called it the ‘most important election of our lifetime’ in remarks which made waves on both sides of the Atlantic.
Royal insiders voiced concern in Britain where the Queen and her family are expected to remain politically neutral at all times, with one saying that Harry and Meghan had ‘crossed a line’.
Buckingham Palace also distanced itself from Harry’s remarks by saying that ‘the Duke is not a working member of the royal family’ and describing his comments as ‘made in a personal capacity’.
Trump slammed Meghan Markle from the White House podium after the video message was released, urging Americans to vote and hinting they support Democrat Joe Biden.
‘I’m not a fan of hers,’ Trump said Wednesday to a question posed by DailyMail.com. ‘I would say this – and she has probably heard that – I wish a lot of luck to Harry because he’s going to need it.’
‘As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity,’ said Harry – in a line some observers in Britain and the U.S. immediately took to be a plug for Joe Biden and a slap at President Trump.
Harry is said to be hopeful that he can retain some military duties, but the video message is thought to have put his chanced of being allowed to do so at risk
Said the California-born Markle, 39: ‘We’re six weeks out from the election, and today is Voter Registration Day.
‘Every four years, we’re told the same thing, ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime. But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard.’
For his part, Harry said: ‘As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity.’
Harry urged Americans to be careful about what kind of content they consume online.
‘When the bad outweighs the good, for many, whether we realize it or not, it erodes our ability to have compassion and our ability to put ourself in someone else’s shoes. Because when one person buys into negativity online, the effects are felt exponentially. It’s time to not only reflect, but act,’ he said.
While many viewers saw Harry and Meghan’s comments as a thinly-veiled endorsement of Biden, a source close to Harry insisted the Duke was not referring to Trump or any other individual.
‘The duke was talking about the tone of debate in the run-up to an election which is already quite febrile,’ they said.
‘He is not talking about any candidate or specific campaign. He is building on a lot of stuff that he’s said before about online communities, how we engage with each other online, rather than specifically making any political points.’
How British royals are expected to keep out of politics
Under Britain’s constitutional monarchy, powers which theoretically belong to the Queen – such as appointing ministers and approving legislation – are exercised in her name by political leaders.
This system means that political decisions are taken by the elected government rather than unelected royals, while keeping the monarchy as a symbol of the British state and its traditions.
The royals’ political neutrality, which the Queen has scrupulously observed for 68 years, is key to maintaining this balance and to preserving the monarchy’s popularity.
A YouGov poll earlier this year found majority support among both Conservative and Labour voters as well as Brexiteers and Europhiles for maintaining the British monarchy.
The Queen’s uncle King Edward VIII had to abdicate in 1936 because the government refused to support his planned marriage to American divorcee Wallis Simpson – fatally compromising his neutrality.
While there is no law explicitly preventing the royal family from voting in UK elections, doing so would be an unacceptable breach of protocol.
The Queen holds weekly conversations with her prime ministers and she is entitled to ‘advise and warn’ them when necessary, but the nature of her advice is never made public.
Even her guarded comment that voters should ‘think very carefully about the future’ ahead of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum was seen as an unusual intervention.
Prince Charles is known for writing lengthy letters to ministers on policy subjects such as agriculture, some of which were made public in 2015.
William and Kate have also spoken out on the environment, launching a prize to tackle climate issues last year.
Princess Diana – who like Harry and Meghan became semi-detached from the monarchy – was known for her campaigning on land mines, once allegedly describing the UK government’s policy as ‘hopeless’.
Her involvement sparked criticism from some Conservative MPs, but the Labour government that took office shortly before her death was more favourable to her campaign.