EXPLAINER: How can Harry and Meghan be half-royals?

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 9, 2020 - Duration: 02:09s

EXPLAINER: How can Harry and Meghan be half-royals?

They've announced that they're stepping back from senior roles in the royal family, but are Prince Harry and Meghan trying to have their cake and eat it?

David Doyle reports.

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EXPLAINER: How can Harry and Meghan be half-royals?

They've announced that they're stepping back from senior roles in the royal family - but how would that work for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan in practice?

It's not immediately clear, and for members of the public many are confused on how the duo can operate as part-time royals - (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROYAL FAN, JOHN LOUGHREY, SAYING: "You can't be halfway in halfway out." - or who will fund their transatlantic new lifestyle.

The couple say they will seek independence from the Sovereign Grant - the multi-million government handout that covers the running costs of the royal household and travel expenses.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCAL RESIDENT, CLEMENTE PELAEZ DE URQUINA, SAYING: "As long as they don't get any money from the taxpayers." In a statement Harry and Meghan said their allocation from the grant was equivalent to 5% of their income.

They did not say if they would give up the remaining 95%, which comes from Harry's dad Prince Charles's centuries-old private estate.

But the taxpayer will still be shelling out, at least to some degree.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) COMMUTER, CELESTINE (LAST NAME NOT GIVEN), SAYING: "I think they need to scale down their security or pay for it themselves out of their own private funding." The pair have made clear that they expect the British government to finance their security - the cost of which is never made public but is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

The couple, who will divide their time between the UK and North America, will also not give up their home - Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Windsor Castle - which recently underwent a £2.4 million renovation... at taxpayer expense.

They've also made no mention of giving up their titles.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LONDON RESIDENT, SIOBHAN D'GAMA, SAYING: "It strikes as a little bit of have your cake and eat it to me." Harry and Meghan have had a sour relationship with the media and say they will deny automatic access to some royal correspondents.

But that could embolden papparazzi photographers, who will no longer worry about losing access to official events if they're already excluded.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORKER, DAZE LIZARDO, SAYING: "You know if they want to live their lives then they can live their lives." The pair have also indicated that they plan to earn a private income and it has been suggested that Meghan could revive her acting career considering the demand and fees "America's princess" could command.

Their considerable celebrity will be valuable, though there's a risk that by distancing themselves from Buckingham Palace, that royal glow will dim.

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