Inside Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's new life

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle dropped a royal bomb in January 2020 with the following announcement: 

"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," the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wrote in a statement. "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."

The statement continued, "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."

With their so-called "Megxit" officially taking effect March 31, 2020, they spent their time leading up to it in Canada with son Archie, and completed their final official royal duties in early March 2020. What is Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's new quasi-commoner life like now?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren't allowed to brand themselves as Sussex Royal anymore

One of the most immediate changes for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after their internet-breaking announcement was a superficial one: What would we call them? The Daily Mail reported that despite Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan attempting to trademark the name "Sussex Royal, The Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex," they wouldn't be able to use "Sussex Royal" in their branding. A source told the outlet, "In many ways this is inevitable given their decision to step down, but it must surely come as a blow to the couple as they have invested everything into the Sussex Royal brand The Queen would have had little choice, however."

Speaking with NBC News, a rep for the Sussexes said that the trademarks were merely filed as a protective measure to keep anyone else from using "Sussex Royal," but that they'd dropped the filings. Still, in a statement on the Sussex Royal website, the couple noted, in part, that "there is not any jurisdiction by The Monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word 'Royal' overseas.'" The statement also noted that Harry and Meghan had no intention of using "any iteration of the word 'Royal' in any territory", and would abide by a mandated "12-month review period" before finding "employment outside of the institution." You can almost taste the salt, but they relented, and "HRH" (Her Royal Highness) has noticeably been removed from Duchess Meghan's patronage Smart Works website.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were sad to leave the royal family, but didn't feel supported there

Sources told People that the decision for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to leave their roles as senior royals wasn't an easy one. "It's bittersweet for Meghan and Harry," the insider said. "It's been really sad for them, because they tried." Still, the insider added, "This is what Meghan and Harry have always wanted — to create their own life. It's got to feel like an immense relief to get out of the U.K. and go down their own path."

However, a source told Us Weekly that forging their own way forward wasn't their only reasoning behind Megxit, and that Prince Harry may have been more angry than weepy upon the couples' resignation. The press had been particularly ruthless towards the former Suits actress, and Prince Harry got fed up. "When it became clear Meghan was never going to get a fair shake, Harry snapped," the insider alleged, adding, "He's adamant that it was his call to move to Canada." 

One British journalist opined to Vanity Fair that the racism and sexism directed at Duchess Meghan in the press was too much for the Sussexes to bear — and that there may have been some disappointment in the Queen not addressing Meghan's treatment publicly to help her.

Prince Harry: 'Sometimes the right decision isn't always the easy one.'

Prince Harry has made plenty of on-the-record statements about the couple's reasoning behind Megxit. However, it was in conversations recorded at the end of 2019 and early 2020, that Prince Harry confessed to who he thought was climate change activist Greta Thunberg and her father that he felt like he had to step down as a senior royal in order to protect Meghan Markle and son Archie from the outside world. Unfortunately, the conversation was actually with Russian pranksters posing as the real-life Swedish superhero and her dad. 

In any case, Prince Harry told who he believed was Thunberg (via The Sun), "Sometimes the right decision isn't always the easy one. And this decision certainly wasn't the easy one but it was the right decision for our family, the right decision to be able to protect my son. And I think there's a hell of a lot of people around the world that can identify and respect us for putting our family first." He also admitted that "marrying a prince or a princess is not all it is made out to be." Prince Harry also admitted in the call that living a low-key life was much preferable for him than being a royal.

Queen Elizabeth sympathizes with Harry and Meghan

Despite Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leaving the U.K. and their senior royal roles, sources say that the other royals, especially Queen Elizabeth II, still adore them. A friend of the royal family told People that the Sussexes are still "much loved members of the family" despite the tension surrounding Megxit, adding, "That stuff runs deep. There is an element of working things through." The insider said there absolutely was a lot of hurt initially, but that the brood is collaborating well and "kindly" as they work to map out the Sussexes' future.

Sources told The Sun that Prince Harry enjoyed a heart-to-heart with Queen Elizabeth II over lunch before his and Duchess Meghan's final royal engagements, and that the queen's invitation for them to join her at a church service in honor of a fallen soldier was a pointedly kind move. "It was a very moving moment, and a poignant service — and the royals met the family of the soldier afterwards to offer their support." The source added that the entire service and interaction between the royals was a "respectful" one.

Royal biographer Robert Lacey offered yet another perspective on the queen's grace towards her grandson and his bride, telling People, "She has a particular sensitivity to what Harry has been going through because of her closeness to Margaret and seeing the same dramas and tensions played out two generations ago."

Are Prince William and Prince Harry still beefing?

Though Queen Elizabeth II and other royals may still have a soft spot for Prince Harry, his big brother Prince William may having a harder time adjusting to Megxit. Numerous reports claim that Prince William was furious with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's exit from senior royal duties, but their issues reportedly started much earlier, allegedly when Prince William first warned Prince Harry that his relationship with the former actress and lifestyle blogger was moving too quickly. 

In April 2019, sources told the Daily Mail that Prince Harry and Prince William had reconciled. But that October, Prince Harry admitted in an ITV documentary that he and William were "on different paths at the moment," and in January 2020, when Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan revealed they'd be stepping down, insiders said there was additional strain. "This is not how they wanted to handle this, but Meghan and Harry's hand was forced," a source told People. "There is so much bad blood in that family — it's toxic. If relationships had been better, things would have been different."

In any case, a source told People in a separate report that Prince Harry and Prince William's relationship is now "forever changed," adding, "They won't get back to the way they were. Harry is looking straight ahead at his future with his family. He's not looking back."

Kate Middleton probably won't hang out with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle much

Kate Middleton likely isn't a big part of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's life anymore, either. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Sussexes celebrated Commonwealth Day in March 2020, there was what many interpreted to be visible tension between the couples. During a very brief interaction at the Queen's procession in Westminster Abbey, Prince William could be seen greeting Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan momentarily, but it appears Duchess Catherine doesn't even make eye contact with the pair. At other times during the ceremony, Middleton can be seen speaking to the Earl and Countess of Wessex sitting next to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, but doesn't appear to interact with the Duke or Duchess of Sussex at all.

A royal insider told Vanity Fair of Middleton's frosty interactions with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, "Possibly she was tired but she didn't look overjoyed. To be honest I think Kate has taken it all badly. She, Harry and William were once such a happy trio, she thinks what has happened is all very sad." Meanwhile, a source told Us Weekly that Middleton was exhausted, and that she misses her bond with Prince Harry and "fears she'll never be close with him again" — but when it comes to Meghan, "They couldn't be further apart."

Much of the Sussexes' Buckingham Palace staff didn't make it through Megxit

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had to let go of most of their U.K. palace staff upon their exit from their senior royal roles. Page Six reported that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex threw a farewell party for their employees in early March 2020, and that their staffers were weepy at the luncheon in their honor. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan had a staff of 15, but most of them became redundant once the couple crossed the pond. This includes their star-studded communications team, led by Sara Latham, who previously worked for Hillary Clinton and the Obamas.

"Harry and Meghan have often done fun things like throwing pizza parties or hiring ice cream trucks for their staff, but they wanted to do something special going into this last week together," a source told Page Six. "They toasted the team and thanked them for everything they have done. Some of the staffers cried. They've all been through so much together and the staff have been working around the clock to make sure this last visit was as seamless as possible. Meghan and Harry really wanted to show their appreciation, they know how hard everyone has worked."

It's unknown which, if any, staffers Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will take with them to Canada — but if tabloid reports about the Sussexes being difficult bosses are to be believed, the axed employees may or may not be dodging a bullet.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle embraced their privacy in Canada

As of this writing, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are residing in a friend's mansion on Vancouver Island in Canada, in part because of the privacy the area affords.

British Columbia has a special Privacy Act providing protection from the British press, People reports. Privacy expert David Fraser explained to the magazine, "It specifically says that surveillance can be a form of privacy invasion." He added, "Privacy is also one of the only areas of law that protects a certain set of feelings related to being surveilled or being 'creeped out.' So, if you think you're alone and somebody steps out from a shadow, that jarring feeling of intrusion is something that privacy law increasingly is protecting."

Duchess Meghan has been spotted on hikes with her dogs, security team, and baby Archie in tow. In one particular excursion, Duchess Meghan appeared to smile seemingly right at the paparazzi's lenses, as captured by photos and video published in the Daily Mail. She later threatened to pursue legal action over the pictures, according to Harper's Bazaar, which reported that the Sussexes' legal team alleged that the photos violated her rights and that the paparazzi action was "alarming." On another calmer trip, People reported that Duchess Meghan, Prince Harry, and her Suits co-star Abigail Spencer sweetly helped a couple of fellow hikers take a photo.

Did Prince Harry and Meghan Markle move to California?

While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spent most of their time post-Megxit in Canada with baby Archie, People reported in March 2020 that Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry left Canada and settled down in Los Angeles, Calif. near Hollywood. A source said the couple, with baby Archie in tow, have been residing in a secluded compound and haven't been out and about. They're also rumored to be eyeing properties in Duchess Meghan's native state. While not much is known about their new pad, an insider previously told E! News that the couple had a few non-negotiables for their future stateside home. "Meghan would like to be able to do meetings at the house and also be able to host friends and entertain," the insider said. "Those are two things that are important to her."

The Sun reported that while the move was planned for some time, the couple raced to move fast as Canada was closing its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic — and that the move came as a shock to the royal family.

An insider told the outlet that Duchess Meghan has projects in the works in the Los Angeles area, adding, "They have a big support network there. It's where their new team of Hollywood agents and PRs and business managers are based. Meghan has lots of friends there and, of course, her mum Doria."

Meghan Markle may want to go back into showbiz

A big reason why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry may want to settle in Los Angeles, Calif., besides having her only non-estranged family member there: Some reports suggest the former Suits actress wants to dip her toes back into her Hollywood life. The Sun reported that Markle is eager to meet with agents and to form a professional team in the City of Angels, but that she's unlikely to appear in scripted works. 

"Her preference is to explore the route of a documentary in which she is able to follow up some of the causes she is interested in," a source said, adding, "This wish has been the focus of some of her most recent meetings and will likely shape the kind of work the agent Meghan goes with seeks to get for her. She is very excited about what the future holds." 

According to the U.K.'s Sunday Times, Duchess Meghan is already slated to do voiceover work for Disney in exchange for a donation to Elephants Without Borders.