DMT Beauty Transformation: Before Meghan & Harry, These Royal Family Members All Stepped Down
featured Khareem Sudlow

Before Meghan & Harry, These Royal Family Members All Stepped Down

January 10, 2020DMT Beauty

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When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced their plans to step back from their roles as senior members of the Royal Family, the news sent shockwaves around the world. The announcement came as a surprise not just for regular ol’ commoners like us — it also caught other royals off guard. The Queen herself released a statement — well, technically, her office did — slightly pushing back against the Sussexes’ intention to “carve out a progressive new role” within the monarchy.

“Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” the statement read. “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.” 

Leaving behind life as a royal isn’t easy. And, doing so can come with long-term consequences and backlash from those who believe you shouldn’t be allowed to walk away from your royal duties. Right now, there are more questions than answers when it comes to Meghan and Harry’s next steps. Namely, how they intend to become financially independent.

But, these two are certainly not the first Royals to step back, forfeit titles, or abdicate from their responsibilities. Until we get more information from the Sussexes and Buckingham Palace, all we can really do now is study other royals who managed to forge new paths outside royal life. How did they do it, and how are they holding up today? Ahead, we’ve rounded up a few examples of boundary-breaking Royal family members throughout history who have paved the way for Meghan and Harry.

Prince Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, was also known as the “People’s Princess” for her work as a humanitarian and philanthropist. She forever reshaped the monarchy, aiming to make it more modern and approachable. But when Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced in 1996, she was no longer a member of the Royal family. She did, though, keep her title as “Princess of Wales,” and continued her charitable efforts that touched on homelessness, HIV and AIDS, and banning landmines. Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images.
Fans of The Crown are well-versed in the scandal that forever altered the course of the monarchy. Back in 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée. After that, he became known as the Duke of Windsor and essentially lived life as somewhat of a royal exile. Despite all the drama, it was probably for the best considering the couple’s ties to the Nazis, which only became known years later.Photo: Underwood Archives/Getty Images.
The British Royals aren’t the only ones who have royal life escapees. In 2018, Japan’s Princess Ayako married Kei Moriya, a Japanese businessman. Because Moriya doesn’t have royal or aristocratic family ties, Ayako had to renounce her royal title, status, and allowance by choosing to marry him. However, she was sent into commoner life with a bit of an advantage: a $950,000 lump sum payment from the Japanese government.Photo: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images.
After a damning interview in November 2019, Prince Andrew failed to adequately distance himself from his former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. After the interview, Prince Andrew was subject to a slew of backlash and even allegations of racism that became a huge issue for the entire Royal Family in Great Britain. Ultimately, Andrew asked his mother, the Queen, if he could “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future.” Ever since, he’s been keeping a low profile.Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images.
In 2017, the Queen’s husband Prince Philip (royal title: Duke of Edinburgh) officially retired from royal duties. However, there was no scandal to speak of here. Instead, his retirement was simply due to his age. At the time, he was 96 and had been a very active member of the Royal Family for more than 70 years. In short, he had earned his time off. These days, he has the option to decide if he’d like to make the occasional appearance alongside the Queen.Photo: Matt Dunham/Getty Images.
The children of Princess Anne, the Queen’s second child and only daughter, have chosen to lead relatively non-royal lives since they were never guaranteed royal titles to begin with. As the only daughter to Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne's children were offered titles as a courtesy, but remain mostly out of Royal affairs. The Queen’s oldest granddaughter, Zara Tindall (née Phillips), never took a royal title and even competed in the Olympics as a competitive equestrian. As for Princess Anne’s other child, Peter Phillips, he also doesn’t have a royal title and has worked in various roles within private companies.Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images.
Norway’s Princess Märtha Louise is the only daughter and eldest child of King Harald V and Queen Sonja. Her official public engagements are few and far between, but this Princess relinquished her royal privileges in 2002 to live on her own income. Now, she spends her time with “spiritual advisers” with connections to Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, really). She once had a separate Instagram account that was intended to be used solely for non-royal commercial purposes, but that account has since been taken down.Photo: Michel Porro/Getty Images.
Sarah Ferguson, the original "Fergie," was formerly married to Prince Andrew. After their divorce in 1996, she became known as Sarah, Duchess of York but no longer holds any royal privileges. In her post-royal life, Ferguson briefly hosted her own talk show and became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Today, she’s mostly an author, penning “dieting guides” and children’s books.Photo: Peter Kramer/Getty Images.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

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Mekita Rivas, Khareem Sudlow

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