Harry Meghan 2nd wedding anniversary timeline what went wrong, right
How did it all come to this?
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex celebrate their second wedding anniversary Tuesday. It has to be said that few would have predicted on that euphoric day of their nuptials at Windsor Castle that they would be living two years later in pandemic quarantine in Los Angeles, the hometown of the former Meghan Markle.
Far away in spirit and space from his royal family, they are locked in bitter legal wrangling with British tabloids while living in the capital of the paparazzi, seeking more “privacy.” They have consciously uncoupled from their royal roles and are looking to begin an independent and lucrative life as a king and queen of Hollywood.
They were supposed to be the faces of the “modern monarchy,” the glam couple who would combine his good-guy affect and royal heritage with her beauty, biracial background and celebrity American savvy to transform a fusty family firm into an institution more relatable to all citizens of the United Kingdom.
“Their rise was phenomenal: Harry’s choice of an American divorcee who identified as biracial and was an actress and an activist and articulate, showed the monarchy had modernized,” says royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams. “It also had enormous potential for appeal to the Commonwealth, where most people are under 30 and would identify with a person of color.”
That’s not how it worked out. Depending on point of view, that’s either a tragedy or no big deal, the loss of a priceless opportunity or acknowledgment of unrealistic expectations.
Two years after Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, enchanted billions around the world, they, their fans and foes have to ask themselves: Could a 1,000-year-old monarchy really adapt to the woke ways of an American actress? Or should she have been better prepared to cope with the frozen-in-amber customs of a dynasty that counts survival above all else?
A timeline of events:
The courtship: November 2016
Six months after they met, Harry officially acknowledged Meghan as his “girlfriend” in a furious (and unprecedented) blast at alleged “abuse,” “smears” and “racism” in tabloid coverage of his new love. A year later, in November 2017, they announce their engagement to widespread celebration.
Despite “deplorable” racism in some publications and on social media, “I cannot emphasize enough how their engagement and wedding had hagiographic press (coverage),” Fitzwilliams says. “They were superb with crowds and on tours abroad.”
The wedding run-up: January-May 2018:
Thanks to frequent interviews, it becomes clear that all is not well between Meghan and her Markle family, none of whom are invited to the wedding. Will her half-siblings keep attacking her in the tabloids? Will father Thomas Markle walk his daughter down the aisle?
He doesn’t, citing a heart attack, and Prince Charles steps up to escort his daughter-in-law-to-be to the altar. Her mother, Doria Ragland, is her only family at the wedding.
The wedding day: May 19, 2018
For royal fans, it was a wedding for the ages, watched by billions around the world. She looked lovely, and her gowns were gorgeous, while he was resplendent in his uniform. Both glowed with happiness during their carriage ride through Windsor.
The service was unprecedented, featuring an exuberant preacher from America and a gospel choir ringing the rafters of St. George’s Chapel, the ancient Anglican mini-cathedral at the castle, which was packed with royal relatives and Meghan’s celebrity friends. Two receptions followed, which were not public except for pictures of Harry driving his bride (in her second gown) away in a classic silver blue Jaguar.
The debut of the Duchess of Sussex: Summer 2018
Their first post-wedding engagement as the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex was at Buckingham Palace at an event honoring Prince Charles. But the real test was Meghan’s first solo engagement with Queen Elizabeth II, who invited her on the royal train (an unprecedented honor even for her grandchildren) for a visit to Cheshire. The two appeared to be having a grand time as they sat next to each other for a performance by local schoolchildren in a town near Liverpool.
Even before the wedding, during a tour of the United Kingdom to introduce her to the public, Harry and Meghan were met with wild acclaim; she appeared to be a natural at the customary walkabouts among the cheering crowds.
They’re pregnant! October 15, 2018
They announced they were expecting just as they arrived Down Under for their first major overseas tour to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga. The baby will be the eighth great-grandchild for the queen and husband Prince Philip, and seventh in line to the throne.
The duchess as diva? End of 2018 – February 2019
They were supposed to be the “Fab Four,” Prince William and Duchess Kate, and Harry and Meghan. But after the Sussexes returned from Down Under, by Christmas anonymous palace “insiders” were regaling the tabloids with tales of feuding royal sisters-in-law or brothers on the outs. Did Meghan make Kate cry at a pre-wedding fitting? Did Meghan pitch a fit when she couldn’t wear the tiara she wanted? What about her alleged imperious behavior with palace staff?
Meanwhile, the Sussexes fueled the speculation of a falling out among the Fab Four when they abruptly decided to leave Kensington Palace and move into a renovated Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Castle estate, seeking, they said, “more privacy.”
The birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor: May 6, 2019
The Sussex desire for privacy (and to do the opposite of Will and Kate) led to mass confusion and media fury over where and when their baby was born, which turned out to be a London hospital and hours before the palace got around to announcing it. They never did explain why they picked the casual-sounding Archie for his name and declined a title for him.
Still, Harry was so thrilled he even spoke to TV cameras at Windsor Castle to express his joy about his newborn son, and two days after the birth they posed with the baby and with the queen and with Meghan’s mother at the castle. But media dismay only increased in a later flap over the christening (no pictures allowed) and the couple’s refusal to name the child’s godparents.
Media mockery mounts: Spring/Summer 2019
The tabloid gloves are fully off and criticism intensifies of the couple as “eco-hypocrites” for lecturing about climate change while repeatedly taking private planes for vacation getaways.
Meanwhile, abusive vitriol directed at Meghan on social media continues, forcing the palace to block internet trolls posting offensive messages on royal social media channels.
The “Meet Archie” tour of southern Africa: September/October 2019
The 10-day tour (Meghan and Archie spend the entire time in South Africa while Harry visited multiple countries) was a big success, especially for the adorable video and pictures of baby Archie accompanying his parents to a meeting with retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
But in an interview with their pal, ITV journalist Tom Bradby, that aired as the tour was winding down, the couple stunned by going public about their unhappiness with their royal lives. With tears in her eyes, Meghan spoke for the first time about the stress of coping with a fierce and often critical media spotlight, and Harry acknowledged that he and Will, while still loving brothers, are on “different” paths in life.
“I never thought that this (media scrutiny) would be easy, but I thought it would be fair. And that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile,” Meghan told Bradby.
Then, on the last day of the tour, the couple left reporters agog when they announced they had filed lawsuits against three London tabloids, alleging hacking of Harry’s phone years ago and copyright infringement and invasion of privacy for publishing a private letter Meghan wrote to her father after the wedding.
In announcing the legal moves, Harry released another furious statement attacking “malicious,” “ruthless” and “relentless” coverage of Meghan, comparing it to the coverage of his mother, Princess Diana.
It was a declaration of war on the media. British legal experts predicted the couple could eventually win in court but at a humiliating cost. The first pre-trial hearing, in which Meghan suffered a setback, suggested those predictions are correct.
(In April, the couple announced they would boycott four tabloids they accuse of invasive or distorted coverage.)
The Thanksgiving/Christmas escape: November/December 2019
On their return from Africa, Harry and Meghan decided they would skip the usual extended royal Christmas holiday at Sandringham, and instead left to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her mother. They didn’t say where, but it turned out to be Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in Canada, where they hoped to find privacy for “family time.”
The tabloids sniped they were snubbing the queen, but Buckingham Palace said she fully supported the couple’s plans.
The “Megxit” shock: January 8, 2020
They returned from Canada with a stunning and historic announcement: They were “stepping back” from their roles as senior working royals, moving to North America with Archie and seeking financial independence.
The outcry was deafening. The media quickly adapted a longstanding Twitter epithet against Meghan – “Megxit” – to blame her for the move, but it was clear this was as much Harry’s decision as hers.
Their announcement was followed by days of intense negotiations with the queen, Harry’s father and brother, and with palace courtiers to hammer out an agreement for their new roles.They didn’t get everything they wanted – they had to drop the use of the word “royal” for their social media and commercial endeavors – but they got sympathetic words from the queen, who said she understood their exasperation with media scrutiny and their desire to forge a new life for themselves.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” she said in a statement.
The Sussex last hurrah: March 2020:
Their time as working royals comes to an end starting April 1, with their last public appearance a somewhat awkward gathering of the royal family at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.
They left that night for Vancouver Island, then decamped to Los Angeles just before the Canada-U.S. border closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They are living in a borrowed luxury estate where they are working on their new commercial and charity projects and waiting out the quarantine.
On Archie’s first birthday on May 6, they released another adorable video, this time of Meghan reading a story to the baby, who looks more like Harry every time we see him.