COMMENT:

In hindsight, it seems like wishful thinking. On Sunday, the Queen and Buckingham Palace put out statements detailing Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex's historic exit deal as they prepare to quit as full-time working members of the royal family.

Harry and Meghan would be granted the freedom they yearned for and could set up shop in North America. In turn, they would no longer use their styling as His/Her Royal Highnesses and would repay the $4 million plus bill for the renovations of Frogmore Cottage.

Clearly, after more than 10 days of confusion, tumult and with their family's internal divisions being played on front pages the world over, the Queen and Co. were valiantly trying to draw a line under this sad chapter.

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Well, bad luck old chaps.

Last week, the Queen reportedly set a deadline of "days, not weeks" for a deal to be hammered out that would provide a road map for the Sussexes' "abdication" from royal life. On Sunday, the myriad private secretaries involved in this effort delivered. Finally, there was a swift and resolute conclusion to this sorry, bruising episode, which comes only mere months since Prince Andrew's humiliating fall from grace.

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That sense of finality was dashed Monday, courtesy of Prince Harry. Taking to the stage at a charity dinner for Sentebale, a charity for children living with HIV/AIDS that he co-founded, he used the opportunity to deliver a powerful and deeply personal speech to give his side of this sad affair.

For more than seven minutes, he sought to dramatically shift the narrative which has emerged in reports in recent days, telling the well-heeled crowd that Meghan was not to blame for the couple's historic decision and they had wanted to stay on as part-time working royals.

Immediately social media lit up. This was big.

If the royal family and their vast cadre of courtiers had hoped that Sunday's announcement would close this particular sorry chapter in royal history, Harry's extraordinarily heartfelt outpouring is proof they are firmly mistaken.

Rather, his speech is something of a shot across the bow of the monarchy: They may soon no longer get to be HRHs but they are not going to stay silent.

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Likewise, Harry's speech is a clear indication they will have no compunction about setting the record straight and giving their side of events when they deem it necessary. You hardly need a crystal ball to foresee how much of a problem this could be for the Palace.

For years, Harry's job has been to smile, nod politely, and get on with it. Photo / AP
For years, Harry's job has been to smile, nod politely, and get on with it. Photo / AP

The royal family largely operates like a multinational company: There are core messages to be delivered and they are acutely aware of maintaining their brand.

All of this requires careful planning with key "staff" pliantly toeing the line. With Harry and Meghan exiting stage left for a new life, any chance of them keeping schtum is looking more and more fanciful.

The potential havoc this could wreak is significant.

In the '90s, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales fought a proxy war through the front pages of competing, sympathetic newspapers. Each attempted to cast themselves as the victim, which in turn would see the other fire back.

This battering, tit-for-tat hostility dominated headlines and saw the rest of the royal family's work end up totally lost in the wash.

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While it is unlikely we will see anywhere near that level of animosity and invective, a similar scenario is threatening to happen again.

Today is Sophie, Countess of Wessexes' 55th birthday and later this week, Prince Charles will fly to Israel for the World Holocaust Forum. How much coverage and attention will these moments receive?

While both are diligent representatives of the Queen who quietly get on with the often thankless job of shaking hands and unveiling plaques, they look set to be denied their due in favour of media and public attention remaining resolutely focused on the Bold and the Beautiful-esque drama playing out elsewhere in the family.

Other royals receive significantly less attention than Meghan and Harry. Photo / AP
Other royals receive significantly less attention than Meghan and Harry. Photo / AP

Meghan in her pre-Harry days was an outspoken and passionate activist. Newly-freed from the bindings of royal life, she is now able to use her voice whenever and however she wants. She is very likely to become a global activist par excellence who will champion issues such as female education and empowerment with zeal and intelligence.

While that should rightly warm the cockles of every feminist's heart, that frankness could also create a headache back in London.

With the Sussexes' unmoored from rigid protocol they are now in a position to say what they want, when they want and all with a distinctly unroyal level of candour. Both Harry and Meghan have opened up about their personal struggles in the past and I think we can expect more moving public statements in the future.

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The concern here is less to do with them spilling royal secrets and much more about the extent to which their every utterance and comment will consume the spotlight.

Consider this: In only the first few hours after a video of Harry's speech was posted on the couple's Instagram account, it had already racked up an astonishing 2.9 million views. Clearly interest in all things Sussex has not abated an iota.

Attention and public interest are the lifeblood of the monarchy and that may well now be eroded by the emboldened Sussexes. After all, heartfelt, glamorous young royals opening up about their lives will always make for far more compelling content than stale official HRH outings in the home counties.

Netflix head honcho Ted Sarandos today expressed interesting in working with Harry and Meghan.

I think we can all agree: Season one of the Sussex Split was binge worthy but season two is going to be truly fascinating.


Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.

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