The Duke and Duchess of Sussex shocked the world on Wednesday when they announced their decision to step back from royal duties. The couple posted a lengthy statement on Instagram, revealing their plans to split their time between the UK and North America. The Queen shared her thoughts on their decision, releasing a statement shortly after the news broke, which read: "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." But Prince Harry and Meghan are not the first members of the royal family to take a step back from their official duties...
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Prince Harry and Meghan step back from royal duties: explained
Harry's great-great-uncle, the former King Edward VIII, famously abdicated in December 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The royal met socialite Mrs Simpson when she was still married to her second husband Ernest in 1931 and they soon began an affair. But neither the royal court, the government nor the church would accept a twice-divorced American as queen. Edward VIII pushed for a morganatic marriage where his wife would have no claim on his rights but the government would not accept this and the king decided to abdicate, leaving his brother the Duke of York – the Queen's father - to take over as George VI.
Harry's uncle the Duke of York announced last year he was withdrawing from public duties "for the foreseeable future" following his appearance on BBC's Newsnight. Andrew's attempt to explain his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein backfired and he was heavily criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein's victims and remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier. The Duke has only been seen in public a handful of times since the interview and a large number of his major patronages have accepted his resignation and others have distanced themselves from him.
Sarah, Duchess of York
Andrew's ex-wife the Duchess of York was reportedly frozen out of the royal family when their marriage broke down. But Sarah Ferguson is still seen regularly at functions with their daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie such as Royal Ascot and she attended the wedding of Harry and Meghan in 2018.
Harry's mother Diana, Princess of Wales said in 1993 that she was reducing her official engagements and would live a more private life, following the announcement the previous year she and Charles were to separate amicably. Following their divorce in August 1996, Diana resigned from 93 charities but maintained her associations with six including Centrepoint, the National Aids Trust and Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. Diana was also stripped of her 'Her Royal Highness' title after the divorce.
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