When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry dropped their bombshell statement telling the world they were quitting their royal roles, they had big plans.
As part of their aim to become financially independent, they were eyeing up some huge financial deals which would allow them to earn their own cash while promoting the causes close to their hearts.
But like the rest of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic means 2020 didn’t go quite as they planned.
The global lockdown delayed their plans to launch their own charity foundation, only sharing Archewell with the world in January.
A year on, The Mirror’s royal editor Russell Myers has shared his thoughts on Meghan and Harry’s original plans, how things are going to far and what’s to come for the Sussexes.
He says: “Harry and Meghan Markle tried to break new ground by becoming the first royals to become multi-millionaires in their own right, while still having one foot in the camp of The Firm.
“The dual role was deemed completely unworkable by the Queen and senior royals, forcing them to make a catalogue of concessions to seal the deal allowing them to walk away from their royal roles.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – or simply Harry and Meghan as they are marketing themselves on their new £30million podcast – are said to be in a “very good place” one year on from sparking one of the biggest royal crises in recent history.
“But with the coronavirus pandemic stalling their plans to capitalise on their global fame following their decision to walk, blindsiding the Queen with a public statement on Instagram, Harry and Meghan still face an uncertain future working out just how their life as former royals will pan out.”
Since their statement, Meghan and Harry have secured a number of multi-million dollar deals which will allow them to reach millions of people around the world through TV shows and podcasts.
Russell explains: “Certainly they are now rich beyond most of our wildest dreams.
“A £100million deal with Netflix, tens of millions for a podcast on top of Meghan’s private investments in a startup vegan coffee brand, helpfully advertised by her friendly neighbour and billionaire chat show queen Oprah Winfrey – it is just the beginning.
“Following on from their jaw dropping statement on January 8, 2020, their claim to seeking their “financial independence” while promising to “uphold the values of Her Majesty” has left some behind palace walls questioning whether it is all going to plan for both parties.
“Certainly, with the agreed 12 month review of their ‘divorce deal’ coming up on March 31, Harry and Meghan were mulling over whether to request an extension from the Queen.
“The loss of his military appointments have cut deep for a man so embedded in his dedication to serving his country and the ties he still has to the military and veterans in the UK, despite setting up his forever home in California, are something he values a great deal.
“Harry’s forces appointments – Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands’ Small Ships and Diving – were put on hold for a year after Megxit, and he is not currently allowed to take on any roles using them.”
However, it seems it’s good news when it comes to Harry’s relationship with the royal family he left behind.
Following months of rumoured rifts and tension, the Duke is said to be on better terms with his older brother, Prince William, and is said to have posted presents back to his nieces and nephews, George, Charlotte and Louis.
Russell says: “On a personal level, Harry’s relationship with his family is improving.
“His father Charles and brother William realised he was struggling with maintaining his role within the family and was desperate to leave before he did.
“And while they did not agree with the way in which he went about it, in the end, for his well being and that of his family, they supported him in his decision.”
Looking ahead, Russell explains that Meghan and Harry are busy working behind the scenes as we begin 2021.
He says: “With the pandemic still raging across the world and plans being put on hold for millions of people, Harry and Meghan are no different.
“Like the other royals, we may see them pop up on the odd video call and no doubt they are busy working behind the scenes coming up with podcast and documentary ideas, but realistically they are going to struggle to make as big an impact as they would have hoped.
“Harry has been forced to cancel a face to face meeting with the Queen due to the travelling restrictions in the US and the UK lockdown and will have to arrange any future meetings or negotiations over the internet.
“However, he is still hopeful of his beloved Invictus Games going ahead in May at The Hague in the Netherlands, and will no doubt want to see his granny and grandfather Prince Philip for their 95th and 100th birthdays respectively in the summer.
“The main event, still penciled in for July 1, is the unveiling at Kensington Palace of a new statue of Princess Diana worked on for the last three years by both Princes William and Harry who will both be present.
“Many behind the scenes and indeed around the world hope it will herald a return to happier times, not just for the brothers but also their families and the entire institution.”