It Was Always Prince Harry Who Wanted Out of the Royal Family, Friend Says

Marrying Meghan Markle just gave him the courage to take the leap.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
(Image credit: Getty)

Let’s call it Megxit no more, shall we? Even though Meghan Markle has forever gotten the lion’s share of blame for she and husband Prince Harry’s 2020 step back from life as working members of the royal family, a friend of the couple’s is attempting to set the record straight, saying it was Harry who always wanted to leave the royal family—and Meghan was just the catalyst to do so.

Journalist Bryony Gordon says, according to The Mirror, that Harry wanted to leave the royal family when he was young—in her words, Harry “wanted out from the crazy cult of royalty”—but only took the plunge because of his wife. She calls the couple’s Netflix docuseries “neither contrived nor fake” and says the show portrays “a pretty normal couple in pretty abnormal circumstances.”

In the docuseries, Harry himself admits to being wary of royal life when he was a little boy, remembering that “paparazzi used to harass us to the point where we had to be forced into smiling and answering questions to the traveling press pack. That made me feel really uncomfortable from the get-go.”

While Harry couldn’t leave The Firm at such a young age, meeting Meghan gave him the confidence to finally take the leap.

“It shows what I have long suspected: that he has probably wanted out from the crazy cult of royalty since he was a schoolboy at Eton, and perhaps even as early on as at prep school, when as a nine-year-old boy he was forced to pose for photographs with his brother and cousins while on a skiing holiday in Klosters,” Gordon says in The Telegraph. “In free-spirited Meghan, he not only met his match, but also the catalyst for a process that had been in place since childhood.”

More proof? While a guest on the “Armchair Expert” podcast in May 2021, Harry told host Dax Shepard “in my early twenties, it was the case of ‘I don’t want this job, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be doing this, look what it did to my mum. How am I ever going to settle down and have a wife and a family when I know it’s going to happen again?’” (Harry didn’t meet Meghan until he was 31 years old, over the summer of 2016.) He continued, “because I know, I’ve seen behind the curtain, I’ve seen the business model, I know how this operation runs and how it works, and I don’t want to be a part of this.”

Of the docuseries—the first three parts of which were released last Thursday, with the final three airing this upcoming Thursday—Harry apparently has “absolutely no regrets” and was “delighted” with the first half of the series. Sources also say Harry wants King Charles and Prince William to watch the show “to get a full understanding of the struggles he and Meghan have faced,” The Mirror reports.

“Harry is delighted with the narrative of the documentary and how he and Meghan came across,” says the source, who is a close friend of Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana. “The reason for doing this was to share their truth on their lives. He feels it told the story he wanted the world to hear and has absolutely no regrets.”

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.