Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Originally Wanted to Take Just One Year Away from the U.K. Before Returning to the Fold

Two major problems foiled the plan, a new book claims.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
(Image credit: Getty)

Like Queen Elizabeth did in Malta, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle considered taking a year away from the U.K., according to a new book—but the plan never came to pass because of two major issues.

In his new book Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown, Valentine Low says Sir David Manning, the former ambassador to the U.S. who also spent 10 years as Prince William and Harry’s foreign affairs advisor, had been drawing up future proposals for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. He felt there should have been a period of time for the Sussexes to pursue their own philanthropic interests and thought Harry’s affection for Africa and deep-rooted interest in conservation should be pursued, and also thought Meghan would want private time in the U.S. away from the public eye.

“Manning also looked to other royal couples and how they spent their time before royal life completely took over,” The Mirror reports.

“Soon after the Queen and Prince Philip married, they’d lived in Malta, while William and Kate started married life in Anglesey,” Low writes in the book. “Harry and Meghan could also go away for a while, said Manning. A year in South Africa seemed the obvious choice. A paper was written outlining the options, and the couple were said to like the idea of a year in Africa.”

When all was said and done—spoiler alert—the plan never happened, as “money and security were probably the two big problems that scuppered it,” Low writes. “‘It ran into the sand,’ said Manning. ‘The problems were real, and there was not a willingness to find the resources.’”

This plan was brought up by the Sussexes in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, when the couple said their initial idea was to continue representing the Queen as non-senior royals, while relocating to a Commonwealth country.

“We were saying ‘okay, if this isn’t working for everyone, we’re in a lot of pain, you can’t provide us with the help we need, we can just take a step back. We can do it in a Commonwealth country,’” Meghan said. “We suggested New Zealand, South Africa…”

Harry added that the move would have enabled them to “take a breath,” and Meghan also threw the suggestion of Canada into the mix. Ultimately, the couple did take time in Canada briefly before permanently relocating to California in 2020, where they continue to live with kids Archie and Lili in Montecito.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.