The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were accused yesterday of "losing all sense of perspective" after making an extraordinary online "swipe" at the Queen and other royals.

Harry and Meghan announced at the weekend that they will stop using their Sussex Royal brand when they step down as senior royals on March 31.

But hours after releasing a carefully worded statement via Buckingham Palace confirming the move, the couple posted a 1114-word "update" on their personal website.

They claimed the Queen had no "jurisdiction" over the word "royal" overseas and said the monarch and the Government would have been powerless to stop them had they continued to use the word while abroad.


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The lengthy statement contained what appear to be references to other royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and the Earl and Countess of Wessex. There was also a thinly veiled attack on the British media, who they feel have been unfairly critical of their actions.

The statement claimed they had been treated differently from other members of the royal family and reminded readers that Harry remains sixth in line to the throne and an HRH by birth.

Last night it was clear that the palace was exasperated by the intervention, although not unduly surprised. Others described the couple's words as unhelpful to their public image and family relations.

"Let's just hope they feel they have got whatever they want to get out of their system," said one. Another royal insider – who is not part of the negotiations – told the Mail that the couple seemed to have "lost all sense of perspective".

"It was their decision to do this and the family is clearly trying their best to facilitate it," the source said. "But it inevitably requires sacrifices on both sides and the Sussexes need to be rather more gracious about it.

"Sniping from the sidelines doesn't help anyone."

Most irritating, it seems, were the not-so-subtle references to other royals, including William and Kate. However, officials were at pains not to be drawn into a war of words with the couple "for everyone's sake".


A Buckingham Palace spokesman refused to comment, but stressed that several statements had been issued since the couple decided to announce their departure last month. Unusually, some of those statements, they said, were from the Queen – in which she expressed her sadness that her grandson and his wife wanted to walk away but said she would support them.

A spokesman for the couple issued a statement about their use of royal titles at 7.07pm on Friday, but a much longer version was shared online some three hours later.

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The second statement made little attempt to disguise their disappointment at the rejection of their initial plan to retain their royal titles while earning income overseas.

"The preference of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was to continue to represent and support Her Majesty the Queen albeit in a more limited capacity, while not drawing on the Sovereign Grant," it said.

Harry and Meghan made clear that they feel irritated that their efforts to trademark items such as pens, clothing and "emotional support services" under the Sussex Royal logo were rejected.

It had been concluded that it was both morally and legally untenable for them to market themselves as royals while pursuing commercial interests. In the most provocative passage in their statement, they claimed there was, however, nothing stopping them from using the word "royal" abroad but they had simply chosen not to.

The statement said: "While there is not any jurisdiction by the Monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word 'royal' overseas, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use 'Sussex Royal' or any iteration of the word 'royal' in any territory (either within the UK or otherwise) when the transition occurs Spring 2020 (Autumn Southern hemisphere)."

The couple believe their attempts to trademark their brand were met unfavourably compared with the treatment of William and Kate, who they claim have done the same for their own charitable foundation.

From a blind date to a war with the tabloids, a timeline of the events leading to Harry and Meghan stepping down. Video / AP / ET

"The trademark applications that had been filed as protective measures, and that reflected the same standard trademarking requests as done for The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been removed," the statement said.

They also made reference to Harry's uncle, aunt and cousins, saying: "While there is precedent for other titled members of the royal family to seek employment outside of the institution, for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a 12-month review period has been put in place."

Observers took this as a reference to Beatrice and Eugenie, both HRHs, who have jobs outside of the royal family, as well as occasionally carrying out charitable engagements or accompanying the Queen.

Eugenie works as a director at an art gallery, while her elder sister has a role with a tech company start-up.

Edward and Sophie were also initially permitted to pursue their own careers outside of the royal family, running a film production company and PR firm respectively.

But both were dogged by claims they were trading on and profiting from their royal status, and after a string of scandals were forced to quit their day jobs and become full-time working royals instead, which they have done successfully and without complaint.

Over the weekend, Harry and Meghan faced widespread criticism for their statement, with one royal expert calling the comments spiteful.

Tom Bower, who wrote a biography of Prince Charles, added: "The comments smack of spiteful fury. I fear it will get worse."

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, said: "It appears to be a gratuitous and ungracious swipe at the Queen. It is kind of saying, 'By the way we know we can use royal if we want to'.

"The Queen is doing everything she can to keep the peace, but the Sussexes believe the royal family is against them. The more you read it, the nastier it appears."