How Queen Elizabeth ‘Beat Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in a War of Words’ During Exit Drama, Expert Explains

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex hoped to take a step back from their royal duties and escape the spotlight. While Queen Elizabeth was supportive of their decision, she was also firm. One royal expert explained how the queen beat Prince Harry and Meghan in a “war of words” with her swift response to their announcement.

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace
Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s announcement surprised many

In January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan shocked the world when they announced their plan to take a step back from their royal duties and split their time between North America and the UK. The Sussexes felt the pressure of the negative media attention and hoped to have a more peaceful life moving forward.

“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the couple announced on Instagram. “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.”

“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages,” their statement noted.

RELATED: Queen Elizabeth’s Reaction to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Exit Sends a Strong Message About Who Is in Control

Queen Elizabeth dealt with the matter quickly

The Sussexes’ desire to step away from the spotlight wasn’t entirely surprising given their interviews for the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, but their announcement was reportedly a surprise to the queen.

In the documentary The Queen: In Her Own Words (via Express), royal editor Ingrid Seward shared, “The statement came as a complete surprise to the queen. She knew that they weren’t happy, she knew that they were in talks with her advisors but she had no idea they were going to put out their own statement.”

Experts believe that the queen felt it was important to release her own statement to indicate she had control of the Sussexes’ exit discussions.

In the documentary, The Queen: Duty Before Family?, royal author Tom Quinn said that Queen Elizabeth’s swift action was necessary. “The queen would have been aware that this was a storm, that if it wasn’t dealt with quickly it could blow up into something really damaging,” he explained.

Queen Elizabeth won the ‘war of words’ with a firm statement

Queen Elizabeth’s initial reaction to Prince Harry and Meghan’s proposed plan sent a clear message to the public before the rumors could take off.

In the documentary The Queen: In Her Own Words, narrator Andrew Scarborough explained how the queen was able to take control. “In 2020 she beat Harry and Meghan in a war of words and proved herself to be the queen of social media,” he said.

Scarborough added, “Although the queen had been caught off guard, a brief and concise tweet posted just hours later revealed that discussions were at an early stage. In just 34 friendly words, the queen had taken back control of the situation.”

Her statement was succinct and effective: “Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”