As if blaming Meghan Markle isn’t already bad enough, many critics of the Sussexes’ royal exit somehow still believe that Prince Harry didn’t have reasons of his own for wanting to leave the royal family. Many neglected to think about how Prince Harry’s military career influenced his royal exit—but now, new insights by a royal commentator for Insider are putting things into perspective.
Long before Prince Harry, 35, and his wife Meghan Markle, 38, announced their plans to step back from the royal family in January 2020, the Duke of Sussex had already voiced his concerns about his role as a public figure. Harry acknowledged this during a charity dinner shortly after the couple’s announcement, saying, “The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges.”
As for those “years of challenges,” we can look at his experiences preceding and following his military service in the U.K. “I don’t think Harry fully got to know what ‘ordinary’ meant until he entered the military,” royal expert Kristen Meinzer told Insider on June 22. “Prior to that, his life was in palaces, boarding schools, on polo fields, and other elite places that are far from how the rest of us live. The military changed that.”
Meinzer adds, “Suddenly, he was sleeping in the same barracks, eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, and stationed in the same war zones as people he’d never rubbed elbows with before.”
The commentator explained that “long before Meghan was in the picture,” Harry was expressing a desire to leave the royal family, especially following his four-month tour of Afghanistan in 2013. And according to an interview with The Guardian, Harry revealed that he “definitely” felt more comfortable in the military than among his royal relatives at Kensington Palace.
Also taking into consideration Harry’s traumatic experience following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997, it all makes a lot of sense. Let’s just assume that Harry—a grown man—had just as much to do with his royal exit decision as Meghan did.