When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced their plans to step back from their roles as senior members of the Royal Family, the news sent shockwaves around the world. The announcement came as a surprise not just for regular ol’ commoners like us — it also caught other royals off guard. The Queen herself released a statement — well, technically, her office did — slightly pushing back against the Sussexes’ intention to “carve out a progressive new role” within the monarchy.
“Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” the statement read. “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
Leaving behind life as a royal isn’t easy. And, doing so can come with long-term consequences and backlash from those who believe you shouldn’t be allowed to walk away from your royal duties. Right now, there are more questions than answers when it comes to Meghan and Harry’s next steps. Namely, how they intend to become financially independent.
But, these two are certainly not the first Royals to step back, forfeit titles, or abdicate from their responsibilities. Until we get more information from the Sussexes and Buckingham Palace, all we can really do now is study other royals who managed to forge new paths outside royal life. How did they do it, and how are they holding up today? Ahead, we’ve rounded up a few examples of boundary-breaking Royal family members throughout history who have paved the way for Meghan and Harry.