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All your burning Meghan and Harry questions, answered

LONDON — 2020 brought us Brexit. And now, the exit of the royal family’s two biggest stars (aside from the Queen, obviously).

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, announced late Wednesday that they would be stepping back from their roles as senior members of the British royal family and begin working towards financial independence.

The news, which the couple broke in a post on Instagram, came as a surprise to both the royal family itself — they did not consult any other royals about their decision — and the wider public, who swiftly began speculating about what was next for the pair.

From whether Meghan might star in a future season of popular Netflix series “The Crown,” to how Harry might get a job without a proper last name, CNN’s Max Foster has answered all your most burning questions.

Why now?

The decision comes upon the couple’s return from a six-week family break in Canada and UK. But this is something has been building for years since Harry’s childhood; brought up under the glare of publicity, the young prince saw his mother, Princess Diana, suffer at the hands of the paparazzi.

Harry said previously he didn’t think he’d be able to meet someone who could put up with the pressure, and, ultimately, Meghan has found it unbearable.

The birth of their son, Archie, last spring, gave new impetus to their departure from the spotlight. In fact, Archie’s naming hinted at the move — they decided not to give him an official title, presumably to allow him a right to a private life.

Will they lose their titles?

Prince Harry and Meghan suggest on their new Sussex Royal website that they will be able to keep their titles, citing historic precedent.

Other members of the royal family — like Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie — hold titles and also have jobs.

What’s their last name?

That’s a gray area for senior royals, but we can assume they will take Mountbatten-Windsor, as that’s what they gave Archie as his surname.

Would the Queen have had to sign this off?

Moves as significant as this typically require approval from Queen Elizabeth, the head of family and state. But the couple did not consult the Queen ahead of the decision.

When you consider the royal family is essentially a firm, it seems unprecedented that they would not have spoken to “the boss” — especially as they are effectively demanding new roles, not walking out.

There is said to be a mood of deep disappointment in the palace following the announcement; senior members of the family are hurt as a result of the news.

Why wouldn’t Harry and Meghan consult the royal family?

Last year, an ITV documentary chronicling the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal tour in southern Africa confirmed what many had suspected for quite some time: a rift within the royal family.

Asked about media speculation of an estrangement with his older brother, William, Harry said the pair were “on different paths.” Given those tensions, it may not be entirely surprising that the couple didn’t consult the rest of the family.

Do they pay taxes?

The Duke and Duchess do not have any tax privileges. But, because they don’t have private incomes at the moment and largely live off public and family expenses, they have not had to pay any tax.

Does the change mean Meghan will play herself in The Crown?

In her first ever interview alongside Prince Harry, Meghan said she intended to quit acting after their marriage, calling the change a “new chapter.” Unfortunately for Crown fans, that means she is not likely to grace Netflix anytime soon.

Will Meghan go back to acting at all?

Again, unlikely. Meghan has made clear that her priority is female empowerment and her charitable work.

Will Harry get a job?

Presumably that’s the only option, if he wants financial independence. But it’s unclear what he might do, beyond his charitable work.

What does it mean to be financially independent? Weren’t they already?

Under the previous financing arrangements, Harry and Meghan were prohibited from earning any income in any form. Up until now, 5% of the couple’s official expenses were paid for by the Sovereign Grant — an annual lump sum from the UK government. But they say they are now giving up that public funding to become “financially independent.”

The couple said they will continue to receive money from Harry’s father, Prince Charles, who funds the remaining 95% of the couple’s personal and professional expenses through his private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall. But will Charles continue to finance them at the same level, given how hurt the family was by the surprise announcement?

Harry also inherited millions from Princess Diana, but it is probably not enough for the couple to live on with their current lifestyle.

Didn’t they just take a bunch of public money to do up Frogmore?

Yes. They spent £2.4 million (about $3 million) of British taxpayers’ money on renovations to, Frogmore Cottage, their official residence on Windsor Estate, west of London, according to the Royal Household’s latest annual financial statement.

Works included the removal of a chimney, re-finishing the roof, new staircases, fireplace installations and a new “floating” wooden floor. Expenses related to fixtures, furnishings and fittings were funded privately by the couple.

Where will they live now?

The Duke and Duchess said on their website that they will continue to use Frogmore Cottage as their official residence so that “their family will always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom.” But that will require permission of the Queen. Her office says all the details will “take time to work through.”

What happens to their foundation?

That remains an open question.

Does it mean anything for the line of succession? Does it mean anything for baby Archie?

No.

What is the ‘royal rota’ system?

As part of the Sussex’s new “working model,” they’ve re-envisioned their relationship with the press. That includes no longer participating in the “royal rota” — a system that was set up to give UK media access to official engagements carried out by the royal family, which they then share between them.

The couple has long had a rocky relationship with the press, and effectively torched parts of the UK media and some royal correspondents in a press release, saying that they had propelled misreporting and presented false impressions of their lives.

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