If Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Were Still Working Royals, They’d Basically Be Leading the Show Right Now

“They desperately need him, and nobody could have foreseen the set of circumstances that would expose that so dramatically.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games kickoff
(Image credit: Getty)

Think about it: if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were still working royals, the proverbial (literal? This is the royal family after all) keys to the castle would be theirs right now. There’s no way anybody could have predicted 2024 in the royal family even four months ago, let alone four years ago when Harry and Meghan stepped back from their working roles in the royal family in January 2020, but had they still been employed by the Firm to present day, they’d actually be the most front and center senior royals of the moment.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle

Harry and Meghan stepped back as working members of the royal family four years ago

(Image credit: Getty)

Let’s break it down. King Charles is sidelined after a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments have put his health at the forefront (though he is still working, albeit less so than he normally would). Queen Camilla has shouldered the lion’s share of royal duties in the first quarter of 2024, but even she needed a break, and is currently on holiday. Princess Kate had surgery in January and is out of the limelight until at least April (though we did see her unexpectedly earlier this week). Her husband, Prince William, has largely been focused on Kate’s recovery as well as the care of their three kids, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, all 10 years old and under. So, yep, there’s the monarch (Charles), and No. 1 (William), No. 2 (George), No. 3 (Charlotte), and No. 4 (Louis) in the line of succession, opening the door wide open for—you guessed it—No. 5, one Duke of Sussex, Harry himself.

“This is a slimmed-down monarchy in the ways the King never could have anticipated,” royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith told People. “This puts into much sharper focus what a terrible mistake it was for Harry to leave.” 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle look lovingly at each other while descending stairs

Had they stayed, it would pretty much be Harry and Meghan's show right now

(Image credit: Getty)

Added Catherine Mayer, author of Charles: The Heart of a King, “They desperately need him [Harry], and nobody could have foreseen the set of circumstances that would expose that so dramatically. This is massively exposing how the royal family has gone from too many people to too few in a short space of time.”

Reports have circulated that Harry would be willing to return to the royal fold in somewhat of a temporary, part-time capacity, but that it would require William’s blessing (which seems deeply unlikely).

In the absence of royal duties, Harry and Meghan certainly have a full dance card (Archewell! Netflix! Lemonada!). Meghan is set to hit the stage at SXSW any minute to speak on a panel about women and the media alongside Katie Couric and Brooke Shields to mark International Women’s Day, which is today. Last night, Harry and Meghan went on a date night in Austin, Texas (home of SXSW) at the city’s Soho House; the couple went on their first date at London’s Soho House back in the summer of 2016. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at an engagement at Canada House

The couple are currently in Austin, Texas, where Meghan is speaking on a panel at SXSW alongside Katie Couric and Brooke Shields

(Image credit: Getty)

The Sussexes dined at a corner table at the private members’ club, People reports. “They were happy and in great spirits,” an onlooker told the outlet. “Harry was very animated throughout the dinner. They were super low key and seemed happy to be around the upbeat vibes at the lively venue.”

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.