Prince Harry's Rejection of the Royal Lifestyle is Only His Latest Rebellious Move

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in South Africa, 2019.  (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

This morning, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—more formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex—very politely threw a middle finger in the direction of the British establishment and announced they'd be ditching the royal coffers, leaving the U.K. to live in North America half the time, and striking out on their own. (They said a bunch of stuff about still supporting the Queen too, but whatever.)

Though definitely unexpected, the fact that Harry is seeking independence from the most famous family in Britain, and pulling a move this rebellious, is actually a totally Harry thing to do. From the time he was tiny, his mother Princess Diana referred to him as the "naughty" one, and he's breezed through several pretty major scandals since adolescence.

When Harry was 20, photos leaked of him at a costume party wearing a Nazi uniform—a move that, while deeply offensive, could also be interpreted as self-deprecation, given his family's loose ties with both Hitler and the Nazi party. (The Queen's husband, Prince Philip, grew up with sisters who were married to SS officers, and Prince Edward VIII was friends with Hitler.)

Just two years after the Nazi incident, Harry was caught on camera at another party, this time completely nude inside a Las Vegas hotel room. Both incidents got him into serious hot water with senior members of his family, not to mention the British press. But, probably because he's unlikely to ever be king, Harry basically got away with it. Even his very sweet marriage to American actress Meghan Markle upended centuries of royal tradition.

This latest step away from his family, however—especially after his and Meghan's unprecedented (and controversial) lawsuit against a prominent British newspaper—is laced with some fairly serious irony.

In 1936, when King Edward VIII was informed by the British establishment that, as sovereign, he wouldn't be permitted to marry his divorced American girlfriend, Wallis Simpson, he ditched his crown and promptly ran off to live in France with her.

If it weren't for that momentous decision, Prince Harry's great-granddad would never have been forced to take over as king, and subsequently no one outside of Britain would probably ever have even heard of William and Harry. If Edward had stayed in charge, the brothers would have been mere cousins to those in line for the throne, and would have had much quieter lives.

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There is a strange circularity about the fact that Harry is only in the position of being a prominent royal because of a divorced American woman. And now his, at least partial, escape from that role is being prompted by none other than a divorced American woman.

If royal watchers have learned anything about Prince Harry over the last 35 years, it's that he is very much his mother's son. And just like Diana, he will seek freedom, independence and fun wherever he can grab it. If he and Meghan can succeed in financially untangling themselves from the royals, it will set a precedent that could cause major shockwaves in how the Windsor family operates for generations to come. If anyone has the chutzpah to do it, it's Prince Harry.