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When will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle return to the UK in 2021?

The Sussexes have settled in Santa Barbara in the US

sussexes uk return
Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon
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This week marks a whole year since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their plans to step back as senior members of the royal family.

Since March 2020, Prince Harry, Meghan and their one-year-old son Archie have been settling into their new life in the US, and are currently living in Montecito, Santa Barbara.

When they first announced their plan to step back from royal duties, the Sussexes said they planned to split their time between the UK and North America.

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Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions, the couple have been unable to travel back to the UK sooner.

So, when will Harry and Meghan return to their Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage?

Reports in autumn last year had suggested they would be travelling to the UK in December, as a trial date for the Duchess' High Court privacy claim against Associated Newspapers Ltd had been due to take place on 11 January.

However, the trial date was vacated and postponed until autumn 2021 after Meghan's lawyers gave a "confidential ground" as to why a postponement was needed.

The High Court will hear Meghan's legal team's application for a summary judgment during a remote hearing this month, which if successful would see the case resolved without the need for a trial.

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harry meghan commonwealth arrival© Photo: Getty Images

Harry and Meghan at the Commonwealth Day service - their final royal engagement

Travel to the UK also seems unlikely for the couple during England's third lockdown.

As the current government rules stand, those travelling from the US (which is not currently on the UK's travel corridors list), must self-isolate for the first ten days after they arrive in the country.

Upon returning, travellers from the UK must also test negative for COVID-19 no more than three days prior to boarding flights bound for the US.

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prince harry meghan markle archie z z© Photo: Getty Images

The couple have settled with Archie in Santa Barbara

The Duke's immigration status in the US is also not known, although The Times reported in April 2020 that he had decided against applying for a green card or US citizenship in the near future.

Although an application for US citizenship would make Harry's move across the pond considerably smoother, it would also make him liable to pay US taxation on his worldwide earnings.

It is unknown on what visa programme the Duke has entered the US, but it could be a diplomatic or other special visa.

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harry rfl

Harry is patron of the Rugby Football League

Back in August, Harry spoke about his plans to return to the UK in 2021.

Speaking with staff and volunteers from the Rugby Football League on a Zoom call to mark the sport's 125th birthday, the Duke said at the time: "We've got a whole Rugby League World Cup coming next year. [referring to 2021]

"I definitely plan on coming back. I would have been back already had it not been for COVID."

The 2021 Rugby League World Cup will take place between 23 October and 27 November.

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meghan harry endeavour fund© Photo: Getty Images

The Sussexes announced their decision to step back from royal life on 8 January 2020

Given the ongoing coronavirus crisis, it's not clear if the Sussexes are planning a trip to the UK before the sporting event.

There are also a number of milestone occasions for the royal family this year that Harry and Meghan could travel back for, including the Queen's 95th birthday in April and the Duke of Edinburgh's 100th birthday in June.

It's been a busy couple of months for Harry and Meghan, having signed a Netflix deal, launched a website for their charitable foundation Archewell and producing their own podcast Archewell Audio.

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