Inside Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Exit Drama: Harry ‘Suffered a Lot’ and Meghan Was ‘Suffocating’

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s decision to “step back” from their royal duties required some sacrifices — it wasn’t a decision they made lightly. A close friend of Harry’s maintains he has “suffered a lot” but his priority is protecting his family.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Bondi beach on October 19, 2018 in Sydney, Australia
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince Harry and Meghan made a swift exit

Following their extended break from their royal duties, Prince Harry and Meghan returned with a huge announcement: they wanted to take a “step back” from it all.

It was unclear what that meant, but Queen Elizabeth met with other senior members to discuss the situation and agreed to the Sussexes’ exit, though Prince Harry and Meghan would have to give up their HRH titles and public funding.

The queen announced her support of their exit plan, noting, in part: “Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”

Prince Harry’s friend speaks out

Someone in Prince Harry and Meghan’s life with a bit of insider information spoke out in a Good Morning America interview about the couple’s exit from the royal family. Harry’s close friend, Argentinian polo player Nacho Figueras, shed some light on how the Duke of Sussex has “suffered” and made the big decision to benefit his family.

“I spoke to Harry a few days ago. He has suffered a lot for all the things that have happened to him,” Figueras told GMA, adding, “He’s being a father… a guy who is trying to protect his cub and his lioness from whatever it takes. He has become an incredible man, a man that his mother would be proud of.”

Figueras continued: “He wants to live a normal life, as normal as his life is going to be, right? When you have 1,000 paparazzi outside your house in Canada waiting to get one picture of your son, that’s not very normal.”

The bottom line for Prince Harry, according to Figueras, is his family’s protection: “He’s protecting his family, he’s protecting his wife and his child. He was the son of someone who suffered attacks from the press and it’s undeniable. He doesn’t want for that to happen for his family.”

Was Meghan ‘suffocating’ in the royal family?

While it’s hard to know exactly what royal life was like for Meghan, American-born Viscountess Julie Montagu shared her own similar experience with royalty and how it can be “suffocating.”

Montagu left behind her life in Illinois 20 years ago when she married husband Luke, who is in line to be the Earl of Sandwich. “People commented [Meghan] knew what she was getting into. I’ve got to be honest… you don’t know until you’re in it,” Montagu told GMA.

She continued: “I can attest to that — as an American we have been brought up from day one (being) told you can do whatever you want to do, you can be whatever you want to be. All of a sudden she’s moved over here and she can’t be anything she wants to be anymore, she can’t do anything she wants to do anymore.”

Montagu believes that the loss of freedom might have contributed to Prince Harry and Meghan’s exit decision, explaining, “I think it can be suffocating for somebody who is American and their whole life was spent working towards becoming this TV actress, having passions in her life and all of a sudden going into a much more claustrophobic world where… you can’t be political, you can’t be emotional and you can’t have opinions.”