“The duke and duchess have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of the royal family,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Friday, February 19.
“Following conversations with the duke, the queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the royal family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service,” the statement continued. “The honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by the duke and duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty before being redistributed among working members of the royal family.”
Queen Elizabeth II added, “While we are all saddened by their decision, the duke and duchess remain much-loved members of the family.”
A spokesperson for Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, said in a statement to Us Weekly on Friday, “As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role. We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
The couple, who share 21-month-old son Archie and have their second child on the way, announced their intention to step back from the royal family in January 2020. At the time, they said in a statement on their now-defunct Instagram account that they planned to “balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth and our patronages.”
The queen, 94, later released a statement via Buckingham Palace saying that she and her family were “entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.”
Harry and Meghan officially stepped down at the end of March 2020, beginning a 12-month trial period should they have decided to return as working royals.
Harry and Meghan announced on Valentine’s Day that “Archie is going to be a big brother,” with their spokesperson saying the pair “are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.” They also released a black-and-white photo debuting the retired actress’ baby bump in a long, white dress.