Social media was all ablaze after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they would officially be stepping back as senior members of the royal family in 2020. The shocking move by the couple comes after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent six weeks away from the royal duties, presumably contemplating what they would like their lives to look like moving forward. Apparently they've decided to make some changes, including what Markle and Prince Harry's social media presence will look like once their roles evolve. Don't worry, they're not disappearing; rather royal fans should be cautiously optimistic as they appear to want to engage in a fresh new way with their followers.
Markle and Prince Harry stunned everyone on Wednesday with their Instagram announcement explaining that they would step away from their senior royal roles and move towards being "financially independent" after "many months of reflection and internal discussions."
The couple also went on to explain that they would be splitting their time between their home in the United Kingdom and North America to raise their baby boy Archie. Considering they recently spent six weeks on the west coast of Canada, there has been rampant speculation they might make a second home there, particularly since they mentioned their move would see them "continuing to honor our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages." Canada remains part of the Commonwealth, a move there seems likely.
Shortly after making their surprising announcement, the couple took to their official website to preemptively answer questions people might have. Of course there were loads, including some queries about what their relationship with the media and their own social media might look like moving forward.
Until now, Markle and Prince Harry have taken part in something called the Royal Rota, which was established four decades ago. Essentially the Royal Rota gives a number of British media and publications first crack at all official engagements of the royal family. They have made the decision to end their participation in the Royal Rota and will instead use an updated approach that will, they explained on SussexRoyal.com, work with grassroots media organizations and focus on young, up-and-coming journalists.
They'll also invite specialist media to events to promote their charitable causes, as People reported, and continue to connect directly with their followers through their official social media, which means the Sussex Royal account should continue to serve its 10.1 million followers.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a difficult relationship with British tabloids at best, particularly after they launched separate defamation lawsuits against two newspapers in the United Kingdom. It seems their plan for the future is to take some of the power away from the old guard and give some newer voices a chance. Perhaps they will continue to engage with the media as they did with ITV's Tom Bradby in the documentary Harry and Meghan: An African Journey in October. Maybe they will continue to work with specific publications as Markle did when she was the guest editor of the September issue of British Vogue. Who knows, they might even revive Markle's defunct lifestyle site, The Tig.
All we know for sure is this: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will be the ones to make decisions about their media relations from now on. And this is some pretty great news.