Prince Harry Gave up the Most Important Part of His Identity for Meghan Markle

Almost a year since Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex officially stepped down as senior royals, the couple’s still settling into their new lives. They bought a mansion in Montecito, California, and have baby no. 2 on the way. They’ve also signed lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify. However, in choosing to leave behind life as working royals, Harry’s lost an important part of his identity: his connection to the military. 

Prince Harry is a military veteran

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stand in the rain under an umbrella outside The Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Samir Hussein/WireImage

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The Duke of Sussex began his military training in 2005. He became known as Officer Cadet Wales at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before joining the Blues and Royals as an Army officer in 2006. From there he had two tours in Afghanistan which presented unique security challenges. Ultimately, his specific whereabouts were kept secret. Harry spent 10 weeks in Afghanistan before his location got leaked and he had to be sent home for safety. 

As he told The Guardian in 2013, “It’s very easy to forget about who I am when I am in the army. Everyone’s wearing the same uniform and doing the same kind of thing.”

The Duke of Sussex’s military service ended in 2015. Although he was no longer active in the military he never forgot about the experience or the people. Harry founded the Invictus Games and got involved with various organizations supporting military veterans and their families. 

Prince Harry’s honorary military titles keep him connected to his past

When Harry embarked on his current non-royal chapter he fought to keep his military titles. When he and Meghan stepped down he was Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington, and Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command. But things didn’t turn out as planned during negotiations with Queen Elizabeth II regarding he and Meghan’s exit deal. 

“Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible,” Harry said during a January 2020 speech at a dinner for his Sentebale charity.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hold hands as they arrive at the Mountbatten Festival of Music
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend the Mountbatten Festival of Music | Karwai Tang/WireImage

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Now a year later, Harry’s being stripped of his honorary titles meaning he won’t have his official connections to the military. A devastating blow, the Duke of Sussex has to start over in California and redefine his identity. No longer a senior working royal or an active member of the military, Harry has to figure out who he is without it.

Queen Elizabeth II is giving Prince Harry’s honorary military titles to other royals

Buckingham Palace has made it clear Harry can’t be “half-in, half-out.” As planned, the queen reviewed he and Meghan’s exit deal. On Feb. 19, 2021, the palace issued a statement confirming they wouldn’t be returning to their previous lives as senior royals. As a result, Harry would be stripped of his honorary military titles and they’d be redistributed to other royals.

Martyn Compton, an Army friend of Harry’s, spoke about it being “a massive ordeal.”

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“He was very passionate about what he’s done,” Compton told ITV’s Lorraine. “It obviously served his time. So anyone that served time deserves what they’ve got, you know? And to have that taken away – it’s going to be a massive ordeal for him. It’s a big thing that he’s done. And personally, it’s just – hopefully it’s worth it for him.”