Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have officially farewelled royal life and said they will focus on their family in the next few months as they enter a new chapter amid a global pandemic.
The Sussexes told fans “you may not see us here” as they shared what is likely to be their final statement on the Sussex Royal Instagram page, having been told by the Queen not to use the word royal.
They signed it off with their first names in what appears to be a transition, having previously ended statements with their titles, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Their future plans may be somewhat delayed as the world grapples with the outbreak of COVID-19.
“What’s most important right now is the health and wellbeing of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic,” the pair said in the post.
“As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute.
“While you may not see us here, the work continues.”
They added: “We look forward to reconnecting with you soon. You’ve been great!
“Until then, please take good care of yourselves, and of one another.”
The couple, who are dropping their HRH styles, signed off “Harry and Meghan”.
It is the strongest hint yet that the coronavirus pandemic has prevented some of their work as they set up a nonprofit organisation.
An accompanying statement about their life as they stop being senior working royals said the couple want to see a focus on tackling the pandemic.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend the next few months focusing on their family and continuing to do what they can, safely and privately, to support and work with their pre-existing charitable commitments while developing their future nonprofit organisation.”
The couple’s Instagram and website will no longer be updated, and royal spokespeople from Buckingham Palace will not comment on their behalf.
The spokeswoman confirmed the widely reported appointment of Catherine St Laurent as Harry and Meghan’s new chief of staff, who will also serve as executive director of their new non-profit organisation.
St Laurent previously worked as senior communications officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and on global projects at HSBC.
US agency Sunshine Sachs will take over the Sussexes’ media and communications for the interim period, along with former Sussex Royal Foundation press officer James Holt in the UK.
The spokeswoman added the couple’s UK home, Frogmore Cottage near Windsor Castle, would continue to be their British residence, and reiterated they would repay the £2.4 million ($4.8m AUD) Sovereign Grant expenditure on the refurbishment of their home, pay rent and meet the running costs of the property.
The couple had planned to launch a royal foundation in the spring, but the spokeswoman said the “winding up process has begun” on that, as they were not able to use the word royal.
Instead, they will launch a non-profit in the US at some point.
However, Harry’s travel initiative Travalyst, will be a non-profit organisation based in the UK.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak and its detrimental impact on modern life, the spokeswoman added: “The duke is working closely with each of the Travalyst partners to better understand how this non-profit organisation can aid in global recovery, especially by supporting communities, wildlife and the environment at the same time.”
The spokeswoman said the couple had also expressed their thanks to their Sussex Royal trustees for their invaluable support and counsel in recent months.
Their trustees have included broadcaster Kirsty Young, coffee tycoon Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor, former Barclays businessman Steven Cooper and Karen Blackett, chairwoman of media agency MediaCom UK.
The Sussexes made a last-minute dash to Los Angeles last week, getting over the border before it was closed to tourists to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
They arrived in California during a lockdown, with the state governor having issued stay at home orders.
Harry and Meghan have also been impacted by COVID-19, after Clarence House revealed Prince Charles, the duke’s father, had tested positive.
However the Duke of Cornwall has come out of self-isolation, after a period of seven days, though his wife Camilla will have to continue to isolate for another week.
With reporting by Rebecca Taylor.
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