After the couple announced that they would be taking a step back from the royal family in January 2020, they agreed to revisit the decision in 12-months. That deadline has come to pass, and Buckingham Palace released a statement on February 19 stating that the decision is final: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be returning "as working members of The Royal Family."
"Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service," the statement reads. "The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family."
This means that Prince Harry is giving up his honarary military titles as a former member of the Marines, and Markle is relinquishing her patronage of a handful of cultural associations, including The Rugby Football League and The Royal National Theatre.
However, Buckingham Palace makes it clear that Markle and Prince Harry are still on the Christmas card list. "While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family," the statement concludes.
While this was likely not an easy decision for Markle and Harry, it was one made with their futures in mind. When Markle was in the center of the British royal spotlight, she endured unrelenting harassment from the media and filed a handful of lawsuits just to attempt to get the world out of her and her husband's business. It's hard to imagine that the California-based couple won't still be subjected to public scrutiny — just take the frenzied reaction to the Instagram announcement that they are expecting a second child — but at least now, it will be on their own terms.