Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s ‘conscious uncoupling’ could cause psychological rift for family

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they’re resigning as senior royals, and the Queen and public are not happy. But here, psychologists explain why we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to any conclusions. 

It’s true.

Prince Harry and Meghan are quitting as “senior royals”.

In a surprising announcement on Instagram, the couple explained that they’ve decided to “step back” from royal duties and “carve out a progressive new role”.

“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the Instagram post read. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.

“It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.”

However, judging from a public statement released by Buckingham Palace in response to the social media post, these “months” of “internal discussions” Harry and Meghan refer to weren’t apparent to some (AKA, the Queen) – and now things are pretty tense.

“Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” the statement reads.

It doesn’t take an expert to get the gist that the Queen is not happy. Hello, drama!

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Former palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter, said the move was “unprecedented”.

“Harry was an absolute bonus to the royal family. He had a tremendous attitude to his work. He brought a lot of joy to a lot of people,” Mr Arbiter said, according to news.com.au. “It is a breakdown in the royal family. Something has gone wrong.”

Moreover, a tweet from BBC royal reporter Jonny Dymond confirmed it’s understood “no other member of the royal family was consulted before Harry and Meghan issues their personal statement” and the Palace is “disappointed”.

Prince Harry and Meghan’s desire for more privacy hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially after they spoke candidly about their struggles in a documentary filmed during their tour of South Africa. Meghan admitted to ITV reporter Tom Bradby on the tour that she was “not OK” and explained that although she never thought her life with Harry would be easy, she “thought it would be fair”.

“It’s not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life, you’ve got to thrive and feel happy,” Meghan explained.

Public backlash

But the news of Harry and Meghan’s resignation from royal life has caused the public to air their frustration on social media, labelling it “disgraceful” and accusing Meghan of “ruining” Harry. Australia’s Today host Karl Stefanovic even called it an “absolute farce”.

Obviously there’s been a lack of communication between the couple and the Queen, but according to psychologist Jacqui Manning, it’s important for the public to avoid jumping the gun to any conclusions, too.

“How this affects their relationship remains to be seen,” Manning tells body+soul. “Without having any knowledge of their reasons, my guess is they want to live as ‘normally’ as possible, claiming some independence for their decisions. It doesn’t sound to me like they want a “divorce” from them emotionally, but practically and in relation to their duties.”

And Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokamo, agrees:

“Regardless of people’s perceptions, I think that it is their right to take control and responsibility of their own lives,” Sokamo explains to body+soul.” They should be able do what they value as important as a couple for their future as opposed to being constantly guided by others to perform/act/talk in a certain way.

“Independence is extremely important for people to feel in control of their lives and have the ability to direct it in any way they see serves them positively… This is a display of independence and wanting to take back control of their own lives and I think people should respect that.”

As difficult as it may be for the public to understand in the case of Harry and Meghan, the decision to separate – or “divorce” – from your family is far from an easy task. For someone who has to make these tough and difficult boundaries, it’s often the only choice available.

So, how do you go about separating from your family, what are the long term effects, what should be discussed and how – if possible – do you keep things civil?

Sokamo explains how to go about it in the right way, and what to expect.

How to approach the situation

As an adult, it’s likely the decision to divorce your parents isn’t something you’ve come up with overnight.

It’s best to think long and hard about deciding to exclude your parents from your life.

Firstly, you need to consider if there are ways that you can fix the issues in the relationship, perhaps through counselling on your own or with them. Sometimes it can be beneficial to get an outside professional opinion to ensure that the issues really can’t be mended.

However, if you really do feel that the relationship is toxic and beyond repair, ‘divorcing’ a parent is sometimes the best option. It’s a big decision to make so be sure to make sure that you are emotionally prepared and have people to support you.

Once you’re feeling strong enough, it’s likely that you will need to have a hard conversation with your parents and approaching that is likely going to be difficult. But if you’ve armed yourself with your rationale and know that you’ve got support, it can make the process easier.

What are the long-term effects?

Cutting someone out of your life can be extremely difficult and it’s likely that there will be long term emotional effects (beyond just making family get-togethers tricky).

You may have feelings of guilt or even frustration because others (or your parents) don’t understand your choice.

On top of that, you may also have constant pressure from siblings or other family members asking you to repair the relationship. You may also feel isolated at times, or as though no one else is experiencing what you’re going through.

However, it’s likely that there are support groups out there where you can find other people who have gone through the same thing. Also, remember that you never truly know what can happen in the future so there is always a chance that things can change, and you might decide to try and mend the relationship. Just try not to get caught up in being stubborn in your choice and refusing to believe that people can change. But also, don’t get caught in a cycle of hoping things will be different this time and getting hurt over and over again.

How do you mentally prepare yourself?

Divorcing parents can be an incredibly complicated process that likely needs a professional’s help to deal with, even if you think you don’t need it.

I’d suggest ensuring that you visit a psychologist regularly to enable you to put some tactics in place to deal with any feelings you might have, or any issues that might arise. Prevention is always better than cure so use that time to ensure that you’re mentally ready for any emotional issues that could occur.

Surround yourself with people who support your decision and make sure you have open and honest discussions with those who might not support your decision. Ensure that you communicate openly with those directly affected and know that it’s okay to then say that you’d prefer to not continue talking about it. The same goes for those people on the outside who might be curious about the details – you don’t have to openly explain the situation and it’s okay to say you’d prefer to not talk about it.

Is it possible to keep things civil?

Keeping things civil isn’t always easy because it’s likely that you’re dealing with high emotions and differing opinions.

Be clear about your choice, communicate effectively, set boundaries and ask that others respect your boundaries.

The case of Harry and Meghan

Without really knowing the intricacies of their personal relationships, it can be difficult to see how it might affect them personally. However, it’s likely there will be some issues due to the fact that their family is always in the spotlight and the publicly announced split could be perceived as putting shame on the monarchy.

Popular opinion of it being the breakdown of the Royal family is also likely going to put pressure on the family to address it publicly, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I’m sure this decision hasn’t been made lightly and I can imagine that there has been lots of discussions about it behind closed doors. Ultimately, we would hope that Harry and Meghan have the Royal family’s blessing because at the end of the day, they deserve their right to be happy.