After days of speculation, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have officially walked away from the monarchy with the blessing of the Queen.
Here is a timeline of the crisis that culminated with Saturday night’s announcement.
– September 23 2019: Harry and Meghan, along with son Archie, head to Africa for a two-week royal tour.
October 1 – While still on the official trip, Meghan launches legal action against Associated Newspapers over publication of a letter she wrote to her estranged father Thomas Markle, and Harry issues an unprecedented attack on the British tabloid press for a “ruthless campaign” against his wife.
– October 4: Harry starts his own legal proceedings against News Group Newspapers and Reach plc over historical allegations of hacking.
– October 20: Meghan reveals her struggles with royal life in an ITV documentary filmed during the Africa tour, saying: “It’s not enough to just survive something… You’ve got to thrive.” Harry admits he and brother the Duke of Cambridge are on “different paths” and have good and bad days in their relationship.
Perhaps the key moment in my interview with Meghan tonight. pic.twitter.com/grIsq7f5QX
— tom bradby (@tombradby) October 20, 2019
– November 13: The duke and duchess confirm they are not spending Christmas with the Queen and the royals at Sandringham, but will be with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland.
– November 17: Harry carries out a final engagement before he, Meghan and Archie begin a six-week break – later revealed to be in Canada.
– January 7 2020: Harry and Meghan return to the UK and visit Canada House in London to thank the country’s High Commissioner for the hospitality they received.
– January 8: An exclusive by The Sun newspaper reveals Harry and Meghan plan to move to Canada for a time and are reviewing their royal roles.
The duke and duchess announce they intend to step back as “senior” members of the royal family, become financially independent and split their time between the UK and North America.
The Queen is left hurt after the couple did not consult her about their statement. Buckingham Palace warns there are “complicated issues that will take time to work through”.
Meghan returns to Canada where she had left Archie, and where the Sussexes’ dogs have already been moved.
The hashtag “Megxit” starts trending on Twitter.
– January 9: It emerges Harry and Meghan ignored instructions from the Queen not to make any announcement, and the duke had been told his grandmother would not discuss his proposals before he had talked them through with his father.
The Queen directs all four royal households to find “workable solutions” for the Sussexes within “days not weeks”, working with the governments at home and abroad.
– January 11: The Queen calls a meeting with Harry, the Prince of Wales and William at Sandringham to discuss the crisis in two days’ time.
Video footage emerges of Harry highlighting his wife’s interest in doing voiceover work to a Disney boss while on an official engagement at the Lion King premiere.
– January 13: Harry faces his grandmother, father and brother at the crisis summit at Sandringham.
The Queen issues a statement sanctioning Harry and Meghan’s wishes, but expressing her regret at their decision.
She calls the couple “Harry and Meghan” rather than the duke and duchess, says there will be a period of transition as they spend time in Canada and the UK, and says she has asked for final decisions on the complex matters to be made in the coming days.
– January 14: It is confirmed Meghan, who was planning to take part in the talks via conference call, did not dial in as it was decided it “wasn’t necessary”.
– January 15: Court documents from the duchess’s lawsuit accuse Meghan of being more worried about the unflattering effect of the story about the letter she wrote to her father than a breach of her data protection rights.
Meghan visits a women’s centre in Vancouver, and then Justice for Girls, a charity helping girls in poverty.
– January 16: Harry makes his first official appearance since announcing he is quitting as a senior royal.
He laughs and jokes his way through an official engagement at Buckingham Palace for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw.
— PA Royal Reporters (@PARoyal) January 16, 2020
Smiling but ignoring a question from a reporter about his future, he told children playing rugby on the palace lawn: “Look after the grass though, yeah? Otherwise I’ll get in trouble.”
– January 17: Staff at Frogmore Cottage, Harry and Meghan’s home in Windsor Great Park, are to be deployed elsewhere while they are in Canada.