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For Harry and Meghan, no more 'royal' in their brand

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Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will give up the name "royal" as they withdraw from official duties as members of the British royal family and embark on new lives in the private sector, the couple confirmed Friday.

[NEW YORK] Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will give up the name "royal" as they withdraw from official duties as members of the British royal family and embark on new lives in the private sector, the couple confirmed Friday.

Harry and Meghan, who are also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, had planned to use the name SussexRoyal as an umbrella brand for their new charitable foundation and social media accounts.

But after protracted and difficult negotiations with Buckingham Palace, the couple has agreed not to use "royal" in any of their philanthropic or commercial activities after this spring. They will withdraw trademark applications using the name and remove it from their Instagram account and website.

On the site, the couple left little doubt that this — like other aspects of their new arrangement with Buckingham Palace — was not their preferred outcome.

"The preference of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex was to continue to support Her Majesty The Queen, albeit in a more limited capacity," they wrote in a lengthy description of their new status, including the loss of the royal designation.

That decision cements the split between Harry, the second son of Prince Charles, and the House of Windsor, one that emerged in the fall when he and Meghan abruptly announced that they planned to step back from their duties, seek financial independence and spend part of the year living in North America.

That precipitated the deepest crisis for the royal family since the aftermath of the death of Harry's mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash in 1997.

Britain's tabloids ran headlines about a rift between Harry and his brother, Prince William, and reports that Meghan, an American actress who married Harry in May 2018, was isolated and unhappy in her new family.

After emotionally charged negotiations that resulted in an uncompromising deal, Queen Elizabeth II granted the couple's wish to leave in return for them agreeing not use their loftiest titles, His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness, and for giving up other perks and privileges, including public funding.

Harry and Meghan, however, had clearly hoped to retain a residual link to their royal pedigrees. In addition to the Instagram account and slickly produced website, they had planned to stamp SussexRoyal on a range of products.

Losing the royal designation could theoretically diminish their earning power, though people close to the couple point out that Harry will remain a prince, sixth in the line of succession to the throne. The couple will also continue to be able to use the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, including in their new ventures.

In Britain, use of the word "royal" is subject to legal limitations, the couple's spokeswoman said. Even outside Britain, the duke and duchess have agreed not to use the designation. Harry and Meghan are currently living in Canada and are expected to spend part of the year in Southern California, where Meghan grew up.

On their website, Harry and Meghan asserted that Buckingham Palace had no legal right to prevent them from using "royal" outside Britain but that they would do so voluntarily. They suggested that other members of the royal family who wanted to work in the private sector had been treated differently.

"While there is precedent for other titled members of the Royal Family to seek employment outside of the institution, for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a 12-month review has been put in place," they wrote.

The couple said they planned to start a new non-profit organisation in the spring, which will be their primary vehicle for a range of philanthropic activities. They recently conferred with experts at Stanford University about the venture.

The couple are also hitting the lecture circuit: This month, they spoke at an event in Miami organised by JPMorgan.

Harry and Meghan will formally step down as working members of the royal family March 31, the palace said this week. Their new status, under which they are allowed to retain their residence, Frogmore Cottage, on the grounds of Windsor Castle in addition to the Sussex titles, will be reviewed after a year.

The couple closed their office in Buckingham Palace, which will result in the departure of about 15 people, including their private secretary and communications secretary. Their private secretary, Fiona Mcilwham, is expected to return to the Foreign Office, where she had been a diplomat.

As part of their severance agreement, announced in January, Harry and Meghan said they would no longer accept money from the Sovereign Grant, which finances the official activities of the royal family.

They also said they would repay at least 2.4 million pounds (S$4.4 million) in publicly funded renovations to Frogmore Cottage. That funding had come under sharp criticism even before they announced they wanted to switch to part-time status.

How the couple plan to finance their lifestyle still remains something of a mystery. Harry and Meghan draw an annual income from the Duchy of Cornwall, a hereditary estate owned by Prince Charles. Harry inherited several million dollars from his late mother, while before their marriage, his wife, then Meghan Markle, made a good salary as an actress in the television drama "Suits".

Even as Harry and Meghan set off on their new lives, Buckingham Palace was at pains to show that the couple would continue to have a link to Britain. The palace issued a schedule of events in which they would take part.

Later this month, Prince Harry will visit a recording session with rock star Jon Bon Jovi, who plans to re-record his hit song, "Unbroken", in honour of the Invictus Games, which Harry created for wounded and ill service members. Next month, the couple will attend an awards ceremony for service members.

Harry and Meghan will also attend a performance of the Royal Marines band in Royal Albert Hall, while Meghan will mark International Women's Day on March 8, though the palace has not released details of her agenda. Harry is also expected to take part in the annual Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.

NYTIMES