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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Meghan and Harry in Africa: The new life Elizabeth II offered them


Several months before the “Megxit”, Queen Elizabeth tried to offer the Sussex a temporary way out while they found their place in the royal family. She would have thus proposed to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a prolonged break… in South Africa.

After Finding Freedom, the first biography on Sussex and the Megxit having made great noise at the time of its release last August, a second work devoted to Prince Harry and his distancing from the monarchy will be published on October 15, 2020.

It is a book entitled Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult written by British author Robert Lacey, royal historian and consultant for the popular Netflix The Crown series.

A first excerpt of the biography was unveiled by the Daily Mail on Sunday: a passage that evokes the surprising mission that Queen Elizabeth II would have envisioned to help her grandson Harry and Meghan Markle better find their place in the royal family.

In 2019, after a year of marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were already in trouble: harassed by the press, on the verge of breaking up with William and Kate Middleton, the couple tried to stand on their own two feet by setting up an independent office at Buckingham Palace, under the supervision of the Queen and her administrative team.

But there too, resignations and conflicts multiplied internally. The young parents of little Archie (1 year old), eager to modernize the Crown, quickly came up against a rigid and fiercely defended royal protocol.

According to Robert Lacey, Elizabeth II had the idea of sending Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to another country for a while, to “give everyone a break”. The sovereign would have indeed proposed to the Sussex to go to South Africa, in Johannesburg, for a prolonged mission.

“The Queen wanted to offer honor and responsibility to the couple by entrusting them with a role in her beloved British Commonwealth of Nations, a very personal token of trust.” The idea was to give them a status of self-sufficiency that would have really suited them, without threatening or eclipsing Prince William, the heir.


The Sussex would have seriously considered this project of a new life in South Africa, since they have a strong bond with the African continent after falling in love during a trip to Botswana. Following in the footsteps of his mother Diana’s charitable commitment, Prince Harry collaborates with various African organizations, both in the humanitarian and environmental fields.

There, the Duke and Duchess could have led an almost ordinary life, far removed from the media attention that weighs so heavily on them. Elizabeth II herself took a break from the palace before her coronation at the beginning of her marriage when her husband Prince Philip, then a naval officer, was mobilized to Malta between 1949 and 1951.

Eventually, despite the success of Meghan Markle and Harry’s first trip to South Africa in September 2019, the idea fell through. According to Robert Lacey, the Queen’s Private Secretary, Sir Edward Young, would have been largely responsible for this failure by not supporting the initiative.

Frustrated, Sussex finally distanced itself from the monarchy in January 2020. After having hastily negotiated the terms of the Megxit, they left to live in California. Since then, they have been enjoying their newfound freedom of action and speech, even if it means worrying Buckingham from a distance…

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