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Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have stepped back from being active members of the royal family, giving up their titles and public funding by the queen. Photo: AP

Megxit: Thomas Markle accuses Meghan, Harry of ‘destroying, cheapening’ royal family

  • Meghan Markle’s estranged father said the couple are turning the monarchy into ‘a Walmart with a crown on it’
  • This comes as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex agreed to drop their royal titles and pay their own way in life
Meghan Markle’s estranged father, Thomas Markle, accused his daughter of “cheapening” the British royal family in part of an interview released a day after Buckingham Palace said Prince Harry and his wife would no longer be working members of the monarchy.
The palace announced on Saturday that the couple would no longer use their “Royal Highness” titles, as Harry’s late mother Princess Diana did when she divorced Prince Charles in 1996, and would pay their own way in life.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the whole country wished them “the very best” with the new arrangement.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth is seen with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2018. She agreed to their decision to step back from royal duties and ‘start building a happy and peaceful new life’. Photo: AP

“As I said before … I was sure that the royal family, which has been around a very long time, will find a way forward,” Johnson told Sky News in Germany, where he was attending a summit on Libya.

The monarchy was thrown into turmoil earlier this month when Harry and his American former actress wife announced that they wanted to reduce their official duties and spend more time in North America.

Saturday’s announcement from the palace followed discussions in recent days between Queen Elizabeth, her family and officials over how this would work in practice for Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38. The Daily Telegraph called it “the hardest Megxit possible”.

Thomas Markle told Channel 5 news in a documentary that he believed Meghan was tossing away “every girl’s dream”.

“It’s disappointing because she actually got every girl’s dream. Every young girl wants to become a princess and she got that and now she’s tossing that away, for, it looks like she’s tossing that away for money,” he said.

The interview was filmed after the couple’s announcement that they would step back as senior members of the royal family. Channel 5 released part of the interview on Sunday and said the full documentary would air “in the coming weeks”.

Tourists pose for photographs outside Buckingham Palace in London, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Bloomberg

Thomas Markle described the royal family as “one of the greatest long-living institutions ever”, saying that when Meghan married Harry in May 2018 they took an obligation “to be part of the royals and to represent the royals”.

“They are destroying it, they are cheapening it, they’re making it shabby … They are turning it into a Walmart with a crown on it now. It is something that is ridiculous, they shouldn’t be doing this.”

Meghan Markle could face estranged father in court after suing UK tabloid

Thomas Markle and his daughter have been estranged since her marriage to Harry.

Earlier this month, The Mail on Sunday newspaper submitted its defence to court action by Meghan over the publication of a private letter she sent to her father.

Thomas Markle said he did not expect Meghan to get in contact.

“I can’t see her reaching out to me, especially now … or Harry for that matter, but I think both of them are turning into lost souls at this point,” he said.

“I don’t know what they’re looking for. I don’t think they know what they are looking for.”

Frogmore Cottage on the Home Park Estate, the home of Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. Photo: DPA

As part of the deal announced on Saturday, the couple agreed to repay £2.4 million (US$3.1 million) of taxpayer’s money spent on renovating their Frogmore Cottage home near Windsor Castle.

“No royal has ever paid back money,” former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter wrote in The Sun on Sunday. “It is absolutely unprecedented.”

Harry was also stripped of the military titles and patronages he was awarded after serving two tours in Afghanistan with the British Army and rising to the rank of captain.

Prince Harry and wife Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

But Arbiter said it was the loss of the HRH “royal highness” title that really made Palace history. “Even when Edward VIII abdicated (in 1936) he dropped from being His Majesty The King to HRH the Duke of Windsor,” he said.

Arbiter noted that Princess Diana was not born a royal and had her HRH “obtained through marriage”.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce their engagement in 2017. Photo: AFP

Few know what Meghan – an American former TV actress with a huge social media following and A-list celebrity friends such as Oprah Winfrey and the Obamas – thinks of the British brouhaha about ancient acronyms.

The 38-year-old frankly admitted on UK television in October that she “really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried.”

But she admitted sadly: “That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive.”

Will royal couple move to a ‘hidden mansion’ in Canada holiday spot?

Harry is expected to join Meghan and their baby son Archie on a resort island near the southwestern Canadian city of Vancouver this coming week.

Royal observers think they will spend little time in Britain once – in the restrained words of Buckingham Palace – “this new model” takes effect “in the spring of 2020”.

Members of the British royal family leave church on Christmas Day, 2017. Photo: AP

The immediate question facing Harry and Meghan is how they will make ends meet. Sky News said Prince Charles will continue paying his son some money from his private income.

Harry has undisclosed millions of pounds in savings and Meghan has enjoyed a lucrative acting career. She is now thinking of starting her own line of health and “wellness” products.

Video footage emerged of Harry highlighting Meghan’s interest in doing voice-over work to a Disney boss in December. There has also been some speculation about the couple teaming up with Netflix.

How much money will Meghan and Harry need for ‘financial independence?

The Palace said the separate issue of who pays for their pricey security detail will have to be resolved by the UK government at a later date.

But royal biography Penny Junor said the idea of the couple in any way profiting from their royal titles really “stuck in the public’s throats”.

“Harry is who he is simply by accident of birth,” said Junor. “If he was able to make squillions of pounds from that it would be wrong.”