LONDON – There is no such thing, it turns out, as being a part-time royal.
The severance deal that Buckingham Palace announced Saturday for Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, is most remarkable for how clean a break the royal family is making with two of its most popular, if disaffected, members — much more severe than the couple apparently expected.
The British news media, which has likened the couple's split with the royal family to Brexit, lost no time Sunday in pronouncing the agreement the equivalent of a "hard Brexit," similar to the uncompromising trade deal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to pursue with the European Union this year.
Far from carving out a "progressive new role within this institution," as the couple hopefully declared when they unexpectedly announced their plans to "step back" from royal duties this month, Harry and Meghan will lose most of the privileges and perks of royalty once they give up their full-time status and forsake Britain for an uncertain future in Canada and the United States.
Under the terms of the agreement, the couple will no longer use their most exclusive titles, His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness; will forgo public funding of their activities; and will repay more than $3 million for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, their residence on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Such trade-offs were unavoidable, experts said.
"The arrangement they've come to is absolutely spot on," said Penny Junor, a royal biographer. "The family is trying to prevent a half-in, half-out arrangement, which doesn't work."
But the deal announced left many unanswered questions, such as the tax implications of the split and who will pay for security, along with esoteric matters such as whether Harry and Meghan will ever appear on a royal balcony again.
The status of the couple's website and Instagram account, SussexRoyal, is also up in the air, according to officials at the palace, since the royal designation is usually reserved for working royals. For now, the site remains sprinkled with references to "His Royal Highness" and "Her Royal Highness."
In a note posted Saturday, the couple said, "Information on the roles and work of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be updated on this website in due course. We appreciate your patience and invite you to explore the site to see the current works of Their Royal Highnesses." Their SussexRoyal site clearly demonstrates that Harry and Meghan envisioned a less extreme break from royal service. It includes a lengthy section on the couple's duties as the queen's emissaries to the Commonwealth. But Harry was forced to relinquish the title of Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
Losing the SussexRoyal name could hamper their moneymaking prospects, royal experts said, since it is imprinted it on all of the couple's charitable activities. But experts also noted that the HRH title, as it is informally known, carries less resonance in the United States than in Britain.
The couple will retain their titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which the queen bestowed on them after they were married in 2018. And Harry remains a prince, sixth in line of succession, regardless of whether he asks people to address him as "Your Royal Highness."
Royal experts praised the warmth of the queen's statement toward Meghan and noted the monarch's acknowledgment that the couple had pushed for these changes for months. Confronted with a challenge to the fabric of the monarchy, they said, she embraced a novel agreement that could serve as a blueprint for family members in future generations.
Yet for all the warm words, Buckingham Palace is distancing itself from Harry and Meghan's new life.