The Queen Won’t Give Prince Harry Back His Military Titles, Insiders Say
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  • Post published:14/04/2021
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It’s been almost a year since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped away from their roles as senior working members of the Royal Family, which means it’s nearly time for them to review the official terms of their exit agreement with Queen Elizabeth. According to royal insiders, there is one important issue that remains unresolved and could revive the same bitter feelings that arose during their original “Megxit” negotiations with the Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William: Harry’s military affiliations, which he had to give up as part of the original agreement. The duke’s determination to regain the titles is raising eyebrows—and concerns—at the Palace as the Sussexes’ virtual meeting with the Queen approaches. There are already signs the upcoming talks may be as contentious as they were at the Sandringham Summit in early 2020. Read on to find out what’s to come between the Queen and Harry in regards to his military titles, and for more on the Duke of Sussex, check out The One Thing Meghan and Harry Are Really Looking Forward to in 2021.

Harrys’ friends say the duke “will fight” to regain his military affiliations.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Great Famine sculpture, Dublin, Ireland, in July 2018Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Great Famine sculpture, Dublin, Ireland, in July 2018
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The prince’s “close friends” may have already set royal teeth on edge, telling the Daily Telegraph earlier this week that the Duke of Sussex “will fight” to regain his military affiliations despite reluctantly agreeing to give them up as part of the official agreement that was finalized last year.

Senior royal aides were swift in their response to the story, telling the Daily Mail the Palace has no plans of agreeing to Harry’s demands. One aide at Buckingham Palace told the outlet: “The view is very clear—either you are in or you are out, and any form of ‘hybrid’ role is incompatible with representing the head of state.” And for more on what’s to come for the Sussexes, check out Harry and Meghan Signal They May Be Ready to Give Up Their Royal Titles.

The military titles were a sticking point at the original negotiations.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex talks with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, as Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, talks with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, as they all attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 11, 2019. Meghan, Duchess of Sussex talks with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, as Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, talks with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, as they all attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 11, 2019.
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The negotiations over the terms of the Sussexes’ official exit were quite acrimonious. Harry and Meghan (who was not present at the meetings) reportedly angered Prince William and other senior family members with their proposal to live as part-time royals while pursuing financial opportunities living abroad. Though Prince Charles tried to find some middle ground, the Queen was saddened, but insistent that it had to be a clean break and ruled that the couple could not pick and choose the duties they wanted to keep or discard.

“The feeling at the time was they could not possibly live as half-in, half-out royals out there making money and creating some kind of ‘second court,”‘ a Palace source told Best Life. “In the end, Harry paid a high price for his freedom. It has become quite clear that he does miss some aspects of his former life and regrets giving up one of the things that means the most to him—his military affiliations.” And for the one aspect of the agreement that upsets the Queen, check out The Queen’s “Greatest Regret” Over Megxit.

Three of Harry’s honorary military titles are up for review.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex pay their respects after laying a Cross of Remembrance in front of wooden crosses from the Graves of Unknown British Soldiers from the First and Second World Wars, during their visit to the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in central London on November 7, 2019Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex pay their respects after laying a Cross of Remembrance in front of wooden crosses from the Graves of Unknown British Soldiers from the First and Second World Wars, during their visit to the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in central London on November 7, 2019
KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Harry, who served 10 years in the military including two tours in Afghanistan, still holds three honorary titles with the Armed Forces: Captain General of the Royal Marines; Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington in Bury St Edmunds; and Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command. The Queen agreed to keep the positions open for him pending the 12-month review of their exit agreement. Some outlets have reported there are plans to give Harry’s remaining affiliations to Prince William and Princess Anne. And for more royals news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The Palace made a recent move that foreshadowed their decision regarding Harry’s future.

Britain's Prince Harry lays a wreath on the Armed Forces Memorial during a service of remembrance on Armistice Day at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Alrewas, central England on November 11, 2016Britain's Prince Harry lays a wreath on the Armed Forces Memorial during a service of remembrance on Armistice Day at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Alrewas, central England on November 11, 2016
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The Palace seemed to foreshadow what the Queen’s decision will be next month when Harry’s request that a wreath be laid in his name at a national memorial on Remembrance Sunday in November was denied. Harry was said to be “saddened” by that decision but went ahead with his own memorial that day. The prince, who wore the traditional remembrance poppy and his military medals, was accompanied by Meghan when he visited the National Cemetery in Los Angeles. Harry placed his own wreath at an obelisk and Meghan placed flowers picked from their garden at the graves of two commonwealth soldiers—one who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force and one from the Royal Canadian Artillery.

“It does seem likely that the Queen will not give the prince those titles back because she believes it is the best thing for the future of the monarchy. Living a Hollywood lifestyle has no place in royal life,” a source told Best Life. “Harry and Meghan wanted to do things their way and the Queen was sympathetic to their desire to do so, but she believes being a senior member of the family requires a full-time commitment. If the Duke of Sussex thinks he can impose his will on the Queen on the matter of restoring his military affiliations, he is sadly mistaken. He will ultimately be very disappointed. He will face strong opposition on many fronts, but the Royals always come out on top.” And for another subject that’s caused friction at the Palace, check out Why the Royal Family May Not Stay Politically Neutral in the Future.

Harry’s found other ways to commit himself to the military.

Britain's Prince Harry addresses the audience during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Invictus Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida on May 12, 2016Britain's Prince Harry addresses the audience during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Invictus Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida on May 12, 2016
Paul Hennessy/Alamy Live News

Harry remains committed to the military through The Invictus Games, which he founded in 2014 to create an empowering, athletic competition for injured service personnel. (This year’s games have been postponed due to COVID, as they were in 2020.)

“Finding his place as a soldier was a defining moment in his life,” said a source. “He feels most comfortable in that role. It’s also possible he wants to spend more time in the U.K. to participate in the ceremonial aspects of the military, which had been such an important part of his life for a long time.” And for more on what’s next for the Sussexes, check out Prince Harry and Meghan Markle May Soon Visit the White House.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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