Harry and Meghan Look Super Happy Despite the Queen's Harsh 'Megxit' Terms

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle depart Canada House in London, January 07, 2020.  (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

This week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle started new lives in Canada after their establishment-shaking decision to step down from their positions as senior members of the royal family. Based on early photos, they aren't just putting on a united front: they look pretty damn thrilled about the whole thing.

The couple's body language and smiles display a remarkable amount of relief, given the surprisingly harsh "Megxit" terms handed down to them from Queen Elizabeth II over the weekend.

The queen's personal statement regarding her rebellious grandson's stepping back from royal duties was, on the face of it, both warm and supportive.

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But the official terms released by Buckingham Palace told a different story entirely.

Harry and Meghan are no longer permitted to perform—or receive payment for—any royal duties, despite the fact that their exit statement suggested the couple wanted to continue to "honor [their] duty to The Queen [and] the Commonwealth," and "continue to collaborate" with the royal family.

On top of that, Harry and Meghan are required to pay back £2.4 million ($3.1 million) of public funds used to renovate their royal residence, Frogmore Cottage. This despite the fact that it will continue to be their base in England.

Where we really get a sense of the true feelings of Buckingham Palace, though, is with the decision to strip Harry and Meghan of their "His" and "Her Royal Highness" titles. That might not sound like a big deal to Americans, and the Palace has tried to pass it off as being a consequence of "no longer [being] working members of the Royal Family," but when it happened to Harry's mother Princess Diana, during her 1996 divorce from Prince Charles, it was widely understood to be an act of cruelty.

In 2018, looking back on those events, The Daily Mirror recalled:

"Losing the HRH meant it was no longer necessary for friends or staff to bow or curtsy in Diana’s presence. More humiliating, though, was that she herself would now have to curtsy to her husband, her two sons, and a whole host of minor royals... Diana was reportedly so upset by losing the HRH that Prince William, then 14, told her: 'Don’t worry Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am King.'"

For Prince Harry—royal by blood—to be stripped of his HRH is astonishing even under these circumstances, and comes with a subtext that speaks volumes about how the queen really feels about all this.

How both Harry and Meghan have carried on as if they don't have a care in the world speaks volumes about just how much they wanted out. It suggests that not only would they do just about anything to get away from Britain's notoriously invasive tabloid news media, but that they really couldn't care less about the royal regulations that Harry was raised to uphold.