The British press has focused on the Queen’s reaction to the “shock” announcement by Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex of their “transition” away from the Royal family – with every newspaper front page – bar one – captured by the story.
“They didn’t even tell the Queen” states the Mirror about the Sussex’s decision to announce their choice “to make a transition” and step down as senior royals by releasing a statement on Instagram, “showing complete disregard for the institution.”
The BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said no members of the royal family were consulted before the surprise announcement and are “hurt” and “disappointed” by it.
‘We intend to step back and work to become financially independent’
The Instagram post states: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”
The post reveals Harry and Meghan’s plans to “to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”
‘Media bullying and smears’
The Mirror’s comment piece states Harry’s “petulance has let down the Queen” while the Daily Mail – the UK’s second biggest seller – published a “Royal Bombshell Special Issue” to mark the news with the headline “Queen’s fury as Harry and Meghan say: We quit.”
The Guardian takes a more sedate approach with a simple headline and a stand-first explaining: “Announcement follows complaints of media bullying and smears.”
The Times is slightly less restrained with: “Harry and Meghan quit roles amid Palace split” while the Express headlines the “Queen’s dismay” under another “Royal Family Bombshell”. The i is the only paper to single out the Duke, with its “Prince quits” title and story stating that the royal family is facing its most turbulent time since the abdication that brought the Queen’s father unexpectedly to the throne in 1936.
Quitting ‘the Firm’
The Daily Telegraph’s headline “Harry and Meghan quit the Firm’ refers to the long used moniker for the Royal Family with the newspaper reporting the royal family is “deeply disappointed”. They accompany the piece with a Matt cartoon referencing Prince Andrew’s tumultuous Newsnight interview, with the Woking Pizza Express advertising a sign saying: “We’re hiring ex-dukes and duchesses.”
The Financial Times reported in 2011 that the Queen’s husband Prince Philip “has long referred” to his family as ‘the Firm’. The term also featured in the 2010 film The King’s Speech with George VI – the Queen’s father and king from 1936-52 – stating: “We’re not a family, we’re a firm.” Newsweek say that “according to legend” the Queen “sometimes uses the same expression in private”.
The FT’s front page lead today (Thursday) was about US president Trump stepping “back from brink” with Iran, under which is a story headlined: “Royal couple pull out of public eye in search of financial independence.”
‘Megxit’, ‘Crappy Birthday’ and ‘Pond Life’ to save the planet
The biggest selling newspaper in the UK, the Sun goes for a pun with its headline: “Megxit”, and says heirs to the throne and Harry’s father and brother, princes Charles and William are “incandescent with rage” by the announcement under its “Exclusive: Palace Bombshell” tagline.
The Sun describes Kate Middleton as “stony-faced” and “in no mood to party” and celebrate her 38th birthday in a story headlined on today’s homepage as “Crappy Birthday”. Royal author Phil Dampier is quoted: “Apart from anything else Harry and Meghan’s announcement has overshadowed Kate’s 38th birthday.”
The tabloid informs reader”s that unlike the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, who had wished Kate a “very happy birthday”, and Prince Charles and Camilla who “passed on their well wishes”, Harry and Meghan “had posted nothing to their social media and remained silent.”
“Pond life” was the headline on the only national paper to not lead with the Royal-split story, with the Star instead reporting on advice from “boffins” to “ditch meat and start eating pond scum to save the planet.”