When Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Return to the UK?

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry have been living in the United States since March. Following their January announcement that they would be stepping down as senior royals, the couple (along with baby Archie) stayed in Canada for a time before moving to Los Angeles. In July, they quietly moved to Santa Barbara.

Despite royal experts theorizing Harry could be forced to return to the United Kingdom without Meghan sometime this year, a source close to the Sussex royals said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is what stopped them from being able to go back.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle depart Canada House on January 07, 2020
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Meghan and Harry couldn’t return to the UK because of COVID-19 travel restrictions

“Had it not been for COVID-19 and travel restrictions,” a source told Harper’s Bazaar, “they would have already been back in the UK—for things like Beatrice’s wedding and Trooping of the Colour for example.”

Princess Beatrice, Harry’s cousin, was married to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in a small ceremony in Windsor in July. Their wedding was originally planned for May 2020, but it had to be canceled due to the pandemic. The smaller summertime ceremony was attended only by family members, but Harry and Meghan weren’t able to attend.

The annual Trooping of the Colour—Queen Elizabeth’s birthday parade—was also adjusted for COVID-19 safety measures, being held in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle with no audience or other members of the royal family. It was instead broadcast on BBC.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex ride by carriage down the Mall during Trooping The Colour, the Queen's annual birthday parade, on June 08, 2019 in London, England
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex ride by carriage down the Mall during Trooping The Colour, the Queen’s annual birthday parade, on June 08, 2019 in London, England | Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

RELATED: Meghan Markle Was ‘Never Going to Be a Routine Royal’ Claims Family Historian

Meghan Markle will need to travel to the UK before her scheduled court appearance on January 11

The source also noted a big reason Meghan will need to return to the UK before 2021. As they said, “It is worth also pointing out that the trial date for the Mail on Sunday is set to start on January 11, 2021 at the High Court, London, which if nothing changes, will still require two week’s self-isolation before it starts.”

Given the court date and the COVID-19 self-isolation requirements, Meghan, Harry, and Archie will likely have to travel to the UK before New Years in order to have enough time to quarantine before the trial. That could, of course, change, if COVID-19 restrictions end up pushing back the court date.

Outside of the looming legal battle, Meghan and Harry have stayed busy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with virtual appearances, landing a Netflix deal, and of course, spending time at home with 17-month-old Archie.

In a recent video interview with the Evening Standard, the couple explained how they’ve been able to stay involved with their philanthropic efforts during the pandemic.

“Everything has been through video, everything has been in a room, somewhere,” Harry said. “Actually, it doesn’t matter where in the world we have been, we have stayed in touch with and supported the organizations as much as humanly possible.”

As Meghan added, “We have all had to adapt to how we can have the most impact as possible within the constraints of what has happened with COVID-19. Like all of you, we are doing the best that we can and hoping that our passion and our commitment is still felt as it certainly hasn’t wavered.”