A Timeline Of Meghan And Harry's Life Since Leaving The Royal Family

The following article references thoughts of suicide.

As soon as Meghan Markle entered the House of Windsor, she and her husband, Prince Harry, became prime tabloid targets. And as many critics have argued, the vitriol the couple has been subjected to is emblematic of misogynoir. Notably, Meghan's treatment at the hands of the British press has been vastly different to that of her sister-in-law, Princess Catherine. As the organization Shout Out UK points out, UK tabloids often report negatively on Meghan's actions while commending Catherine for the exact same behavior: for instance, overly scrutinizing the way a pregnant Meghan cradled her baby bump, while applauding Catherine as a caring expectant mom when she tended to hers. "Simply put, the press loves attacking Meghan because she is not like the rest of the aristocracy," royal expert Kristen Meinzer told Insider. "Unlike them, she's an American, a self-made woman, and Black."

Considering their alleged mistreatment at the hands of the press and The Firm itself, it's perhaps understandable that the couple decided to step away from royal duties at the start of 2020. As Harry confirmed in an interview with ITV (via CBC), racist and intrusive treatment by the press was the catalyst for the move. Since leaving royal duties behind, the Sussexes have been enjoying their life in the US, expanding their family, and, perhaps most significantly, working on their brand. They've come a long way since Megxit: here's a timeline of Meghan and Harry's life since leaving the royal family.

Tyler Perry offered refuge to Harry and Meghan

In order to establish a fresh start, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle relocated across the Atlantic. In January 2020, they moved to Canada, where they resided in the idyllic mansion Mille Fleurs, located in Vancouver Island. After a few months taking in the pastoral North Saanich landscape, they ended up crashing at Tyler Perry's Los Angeles home in May. Insiders told People that the couple felt indebted to Perry for providing them with a safe space amid all the turmoil of Megxit, coupled with the COVID-19 lockdown. "They have endless gratitude to him for helping them during a complicated time," the source stated.

The offer was highly generous of Perry indeed, considering that Harry and Meghan had never met the filmmaker prior to moving into his pad. As the couple revealed in an episode of "Harry & Meghan" (via Page Six), Perry was moved by the Sussexes' story after reading about paparazzi intrusion into their lives. He reached out to Meghan to let her know that he was there should she ever need support, so she gave him a call. "I was just a wreck," she recalled. "I was just crying and crying. Sometimes it's easier to just open up to someone who knows nothing at all, and that was that moment with me and Tyler."

Subsequently, he opened his home to the couple. Harry reflected that the time they spent at Perry's house was blissful, since no one knew they were staying there.

Harry and Meghan bought a home in Santa Barbara

By June 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had vacated Tyler Perry's estate and bought their dream home in Santa Barbara. The couple paid a whopping $14.7 million for the nine bedroom mansion (reportedly paid through a $9.5 million mortgage), which was previously owned by Russian oligarch Sergey Grishin. The price tag was a major loss for Grishin, who shelled out $25 million for the pad in 2009.

The purchase was a pivotal moment in the couple's freedom from the confines of the royal family. "[Harry and Meghan] feel proud to have struck out on their own and they are saying they bought it without any help from his family," an insider dished to the Daily Mail. "They do have a mortgage, but they see this as their own place, free from relying on anyone else — a proper family home."

According to sources who chatted to People, the Sussexes saw their new Santa Barbara neighborhood as the perfect place to raise Archie and give him a normal upbringing. "They were craving a smaller community and a slower pace," the source explained. "Montecito is very mellow, a charming little town and the Santa Barbara [area] offers an ideal lifestyle that they're looking forward to." Indeed, Montecito has proven the ideal environment for the family to fulfill their wish of existing as independent citizens free from undue scrutiny. As neighbors told The Guardian, the couple's celeb status is of little interest to the community.

Archewell is born

Having worked on their charitable foundation since the spring of 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially launched Archewell that October. At the time, it was announced that the organization would focus on progressive causes, such as racial and gender inequality. "Meghan told Harry from the outset that together they could change the world and do a huge amount of good," a source told Vanity Fair. "That's what they plan to do and that's what the foundation will be about."

In an interview with The Telegraph, the pair said that the new charity would replace SussexRoyal, though they clarified that the idea for Archewell predated their previous organization. "Before SussexRoyal, came the idea of 'Arche' — the Greek word meaning 'source of action,'" the Sussexes said. "We connected to this concept for the charitable organization we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son's name."

In December, the couple updated Archewell's website with photos of their respective mothers, Princess Diana and Doria Ragland, and announced their intention to change the world through love and compassion. They made good on that promise: in its first year, the organization made $13 million, with Harry and Meghan donating $3 million to refugee settlement programs, COVID-19 vaccination grants, and initiatives designed at tackling toxic masculinity. To mark her 40th birthday in August 2021, Meghan was supported by celeb pals after launching Archewell's 40x40 campaign , which is aimed at aiding women re-entering the workforce.

That bombshell Oprah interview

In March 2021, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an explosive interview that would go on to generate headlines in the weeks to come. The Sussexes made a number of startling claims about the royal family, including the revelation that an anonymous family member made offensive comments about the color of newborn Archie's skin. "We have in tandem the conversation of 'He won't be given security, he's not going to be given a title,'" Meghan told Oprah, as transcribed by The Sun, "and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born." Although neither Harry nor Meghan named the individual in question, author Christopher Andersen said that he spoke to a palace insider who alleged that it was King Charles who made the remark about his grandson's complexion, per Page Six. The palace quickly denied this claim.

Elsewhere in the interview, Meghan revealed that her experiences as a royal left her feeling suicidal. The alleged toxicity of the royal family aside, she had nothing but praise for Queen Elizabeth. The duchess recounted instances in which Her Majesty gifted her a pearl necklace and earrings set, and another in which the pair cozied under a blanket together.

The interview divided opinions. The Guardian argued that while the sit-down highlighted some important issues, such as racist attacks against Meghan by the British media, the wealthy couple were clearly detached from the lived realities of those struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Welcoming baby number two

The Sussexes expanded their brood in June 2021when their daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, arrived. The youngster is named after her late paternal grandmother and her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, whose childhood nickname was Lilibet. Though the choice appeared to be a sweet and innocuous gesture, some critics argued that it was disrespectful of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to name their daughter after the queen. "He surely would have known that appropriating the monarch's beloved childhood nickname would be perceived by many as disrespectful and intrusive in a way that naming their daughter Elizabeth would have not been," royal author Tom Quinn wrote in his book "Gilded Youth An Intimate History of Growing Up in the Royal Family."

Speaking to the BBC, a palace source alleged that the couple did not ask for the queen's permission to use her childhood nickname. However, a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan disputed this. "His grandmother was the first family member he called," they said. "During that conversation, he shared their hope of naming their daughter Lilibet in her honor. Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name."

Lilibet was christened in Los Angeles in March 2023. Harry had invited his father, King Charles, to the ceremony, as well as his stepmom, Queen Camilla, and his brother and sister-in-law, but none of the royals accepted their invitations. This was apparently due to their packed schedules of royal engagements preventing them from traveling across the pond.

The Sussexes attended the queen's funeral

After 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth died in September 2022, aged 96. Her heavily publicized funeral that month would provide Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, with an opportunity to return to the UK and potentially reconnect with the British royals. The couple was photographed walking alongside Prince William and Princess Catherine at the memorial service.

Considering how toxic life in The Firm allegedly was, the occasion was understandably overwhelming for Meghan, who has arguably been vilified by the British press. To make his wife feel at ease, Harry reportedly comforted Meghan throughout the funeral service. "You saw the reassurance that Harry was giving to Meghan... When they went their separate directions after the ceremony, he gave her a firm squeeze of the hand," guest Pranav Bhanot told People. "I felt he wanted to ensure she felt comfortable."

Despite showing solidarity with fellow mourners, Harry and Meghan were reportedly not welcomed with open arms. For instance, some viewed the seating plan as a snub, with the Sussexes assigned to the second row. However, sources told The Daily Beast that this wasn't intended as a slight; rather, guests were reportedly seated according to age (notably, the disgraced Prince Andrew was placed in the row in front of Harry). Subsequently, detractors claimed that Harry and Meghan were attempting to make the funeral about them, rather than the queen.

The launch of the Harry and Meghan documentary

Two months after the death of the queen, the Sussexes debuted their Netflix docuseries, "Harry & Meghan." The show saw the couple navigating life since post-The Firm, with Prince Harry kickstarting the series by declaring his love and admiration for his wife. "This is a great love story," he said, per Evening Standard. "And the craziest thing is that I think this love story is only just getting started. She sacrificed everything that she ever knew... to join me in my world, and then, pretty soon after that, I end up sacrificing everything that I know to join her in her world." The prince also explained that he and Meghan Markle decided to film themselves as a means of dispelling inaccurate media narratives propagated against them.

The documentary saw the couple opening up about their respective familial problems, including the alleged prejudices of senior royals and Meghan's issues with her father, Thomas Markle. Her mom, Doria Ragland, was also interviewed and, in contrast to Harry's family, welcomed her child's partner with open arms. She also noted that paps would deliberately scout out deprived neighborhoods to insinuate that Meghan grew up in penury in contrast to the Windsors.

Following the success of the doc, the couple's relationship with Netflix is going strong. "Harry & Meghan was Netflix's biggest documentary debut ever, and we'll continue to work together on a number of projects, including the upcoming documentary series Heart of Invictus," a spokesperson for the streaming giant told People.

Harry released his best-selling memoir

Prince Harry kicked off 2023 with the release of his highly anticipated memoir, "Spare," in January. The book featured a number of major bombshell revelations, including the claim that Prince William has a foul temper. As Harry writes (via The Guardian), he became upset after Wills insulted Meghan Markle, leading to the duke accusing his brother of reiterating the media's anti-Meghan narrative. William allegedly became incensed and physically assaulted Harry, knocking him to the floor.

But the memoir also saw Harry reflecting on his lofty status within society and acknowledging his privilege as a white upper class man. Discussing the book with People, he credited his wife with helping him understand the detrimental effects of systemic racism, of which the British royal family has arguably been complicit throughout its colonial history. "My relationship with Meghan has opened my eyes to so much I fear I otherwise would have never fully understood," he explained. "When we recognize bias within ourselves or others—we have a choice. Be part of the problem through inaction or part of the solution through change... I am someone who has long benefited from my place in society. I understand that much better today than I once did."

The memoir proved a huge success, selling 1.43 million copies within 24 hours and thus entering the Guinness World Record for fastest-selling nonfiction book. Yet, Harry still left so much unsaid. "It could have been two books, put it that way," he told The Telegraph.

The couple was ousted from their royal residence

Frogmore Cottage was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal residence throughout their time in the UK, offered to them by Queen Elizabeth as a wedding gift. Their home was at the center of contention when it was revealed that the couple had used $3 million in public money to fund renovations. However, following their departure from the UK, it was confirmed that they had reimbursed the Sovereign Grant for the full cost of the renovations.

In February 2023, The Sun reported that King Charles was planning to evict his son and daughter-in-law to allow his disgraced brother, Prince Andrew, to live at Frogmore instead. The decision was seen as a turning point in the couple's increasing alienation from the UK. "This eviction surely spells the end of Harry and Meghan's time in the UK," an insider told The Sun. "Andrew is resisting the idea of moving into Frogmore Cottage after he was offered it last week. But it shows Harry and Meghan are powerless to stop the eviction." Though some insiders claimed that the couple had no use for the rural residence, others pointed out that it served as their safe haven when visiting the country (the Sussexes stayed at Frogmore following the queen's death, for instance).

In June 2023, the couple was officially evicted from Frogmore Cottage, meaning that they no longer have a home across the Atlantic. They will need explicit permission from King Charles to stay in royal residences in future.

Harry made a brief appearance at his father's coronation

There was much speculation as to whether Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, would attend the coronation of King Charles in May 2023. Ultimately, Harry decided to go it alone. According to royal expert Omid Scobie, Meghan felt that the event would not be a safe space for her as a Black woman. "While Charles clearly has an interest in enhancing diversity, it was impossible to ignore the fact that the royal family's only family member of color (and mother of the House of Windsor's only mixed-race children), Duchess Meghan, didn't feel comfortable or welcome enough to attend," Scobie wrote in Harper's Bazaar.

As with Prince Andrew, Harry was not given a role in the coronation and was seated in the third row, along with his cousins Eugenie and Beatrice. Moreover, he did not attempt any interaction with his brother, William, likely due to the fallout from his memoir. Though tensions seemed to eclipse the prince's reunion with his father, the king was reportedly thrilled that his youngest son could make it. "He would have personally regretted it if he wasn't there to support his father," Colleen Harris, Charles' former press secretary, told People. "Speaking as a mother, [I believe] it was the right thing. . . and the King [was] delighted."

The Telegraph argued that Harry's solitary and seemingly sullen presence at the event truly cemented his status as spare. Almost immediately after the star-studded ceremony, Harry was already on his way back home.

Harry's court case against the British tabloids

2023 would see Prince Harry embark on a series of legal cases in the UK. After his father's coronation in May, he attempted to challenge a ruling that prohibited him from receiving police protection when visiting the UK — even if he foots the bill himself — due to him being regarded as a private citizen and relinquishing his royal duties. He ultimately lost the case.

Also that month, Harry began his legal battle against Mirror Group Newspapers over allegations of phone hacking over a 15 year period, seeking $560,000 in compensation. As the BBC reports, Harry launched the lawsuit as a response to the hate that the British media had directed at Meghan Markle. Testifying in court in June — the first time a royal had done so in over a century — Harry accused Piers Morgan, the Mirror's former editor, of hacking both his and his mother's phone and making their lives a misery. "The thought of Piers Morgan and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother's private and sensitive messages (in the same way as they have me) and then having given her a 'nightmare time' three months prior to her death in Paris, makes me feel physically sick," he said, per Sky News.

Moreover, he accused MGN of utilizing illegal means of gaining a scoop, and alleged that he found tracking devices on the cars of both his ex-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, and his friend, Mark Dyer. The trial concluded on June 30, 2023, pending an outcome.

Meghan was honored at the Women of Vision Awards

While Prince Harry generated headlines throughout the first half of 2023 due to his memoir and various public disputes, Meghan Markel kept a relatively low profile. Behind the scenes, she was busy working on her various philanthropic endeavors, for which she was honored in May at the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards: Celebrating Generations of Progress & Power. The organization honors those who embrace and uphold intersectional feminist values.

Sweetly, she was supported by both her husband and her mom at the event. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem presented Meghan with the award, with the duchess paying tribute to her in her acceptance speech, per People. She recalled reading Steinem's Ms. magazine as a teenager, revealing that its commitment to diversity helped shape her feminist sensibilities. "When I reflect on the time in my life, when I was young, the imprints that were etched in my mind, I can now connect the dots in a much better way to understand how I became a young feminist and evolved into a grown activist," she said.

Chatting to People, Steinem discussed her relationship with Meghan, which began in 2020 when the pair had a lockdown sit-down about voting and feminism. Having become close pals with the duchess, the activist emphasized that the media's ruthless depiction of Meghan couldn't be more antithetical to the person she is. "She's smart and funny and devoted to social issues," she said. "Maybe it's the British tabloids that are the problem."

The couple's Spotify deal fell apart

In June 2023, Spotify's $20 million deal with Archewell Audio collapsed. The company claimed that audience figures were too low for Meghan Markle's "Archetypes" podcast, despite the show winning a People's Choice Award and featuring numerous A-list celebrity guests. Communications expert Mark Borkowski told the BBC that the cessation of the Spotify deal would be a major eye-opener for the couple, and the brand they had worked so hard on formulating. "It's a thread that's been pulled out of the brand," he said. "If they want to stop unraveling they've really got to think hard. The biggest question is are they going to learn from this setback or are they going to ignore it as just a blip."

Analyzing the fallout, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer branded Meghan talentless. "Turns out Meghan Markle was not a great audio talent, or necessarily any kind of talent," he said, per Semafor. "And, you know, just because you're famous doesn't make you great at something." The shade deepened when Spotify's head of podcast innovation and monetisation, Bill Simmons, accused Prince Harry and Meghan of being "grifters."

According to analysis by The Wall Street Journal, the Spotify drama is indicative of the decline of the couple's star power, arguing that they weren't sufficiently media-savvy to take on roles as producers, all the while struggling to remain consistent with their brand. However, an Archewell spokesperson said that the company was undergoing rejuvenation to fix such issues.

Harry and Meghan are facing divorce rumors

By July 2023, rumors began circulating that there's trouble in Sussex paradise. Sources who chatted to Radar claimed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were spending time apart in the midst of family drama and the termination of their Spotify deal, with the former embarking on a solo trip to Africa to film a documentary. "They're trying to figure out what hit them," the source alleged. "Harry doesn't fit in Meghan's tacky Tinseltown world." Insiders claimed that the Spotify collapse was a turning point in the Sussexes' relationship, supposedly illustrating that the pair want different things in life, with Meghan apparently being insistent on living a lavish lifestyle beyond her means. "That stress coupled with their emotional issues has likely made life a living hell," the source added.

However, an insider who spoke to Page Six dismissed such gossip. "It's literally made up," they said. This certainly isn't the first time the couple has faced rumors of a split. Back in 2020, Woman's Day published a headline declaring, "Palace confirms the marriage is over! Why Harry was left with no choice but to end it," which was swiftly exposed as an outright lie (following complaints, the publication later admitted that the headline was untrue).

As for what's next for Harry and Meghan? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure: they may no longer be working royals, but they sure do reign as the king and queen of owning your brand.