Early in 2020 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made it clear that they wanted to withdraw from British royal life. And their decision to become more private and to split their time between the United Kingdom and North America has had plenty of ramifications. So, the Queen has now given a moving insight into how it will affect her relationship with their child, Archie.
The resplendently named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is the first child borne by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. Proud dad Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, revealed the birth on May 7, 2019, when speaking to the media at his family’s home. Indeed, he told the press that the newborn weighed in at a little more than 7 pounds.
“It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever possibly have imagined. How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension,” Harry told The Independent in 2019. “But we’re both absolutely thrilled… and so grateful for all the love and support from everybody out there. It’s been amazing, so we just wanted to share this with everybody.”
The prince, you see, had been there while Archie was born, and he was understandably overjoyed at the result. “I’m so incredibly proud of my wife,” he said. “And as every father and parent would say, your baby is absolutely amazing. But this little thing is absolutely to die for, so I’m absolutely over the moon.”
But the Duke of Sussex wasn’t the only person who was there with Meghan. That’s right, her mother, Doria Ragland, also helped the Duchess through the ordeal. According to those who know the family well, she wanted to be present because Meghan is an older mother. And Ragland was reportedly “overjoyed” to welcome what was her very first grandkid.
Archie’s birth was, as expected, widely celebrated. Some locations around the world were even lit up to mark out a welcome for the new royal. The CN Tower and Niagara Falls showed pride in the royal pair’s connection with Canada – which we’ll hear more about later – while the London Eye was also bathed in multicolored light. And the day after the birth, the couple let the world know what they had decided to call the boy.
The name certainly set tongues wagging, too. Is Archie actually an anagram? Meghan’s first name is Rachel, after all. Is Harrison an intelligent pun on “Harry’s son”? It seems, however, that neither was the case and that the child was named after Major Tom Archer-Burton, affectionately known as “Archie,” who played a big part in Harry’s military service.
Indeed, when Harry was informed that he wouldn’t be allowed to serve in Iraq back in 2007, “Archie” stepped in to persuade him to remain in the Army. He also helped to maintain the confidentiality of Harry’s service, which the prince has always appreciated. Archie and Harry subsequently became good pals, as was demonstrated when the soldier was spotted at the couple’s nuptials.
Regarding the inspiration for Archie’s name, however, an insider shared the gossip with The Sun newspaper. They said, “It’s well known in Army circles, and Archie’s inner circle, that baby Archie is a nod to him. The two men have stayed in regular contact, and Archie has met most of Harry’s family including Meghan.” But the source also added that the older Archie was far too modest to accept any credit for the name.
Even though Harry and Meghan didn’t give the younger Archie any fancy titles, he did receive an interesting surname. And it comes with a particularly intriguing history, too. You see, at the time when the Queen began her reign, her husband, Prince Philip, had wanted their future children to bear his name: Mountbatten. It hadn’t been allowed, however, and the prince was said to have been unhappy.
So, the house name of the royal family continued to be Windsor – for a while, anyway. Indeed, Prince Philip did gain a concession from the Queen in the end. Because she seemingly loves her husband very much and after perhaps realizing how much the ordeal had hurt him, she made a change prior to the arrival of Prince Andrew. As a result, British royals now have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. Had Philip won out before she took the throne, though, they might have been called Edinburgh, which is his ducal name.
As you may remember, Archie’s christening happened a couple of months after his birth. The small service was held in the Queen’s Windsor chapel, and it housed only a couple dozen invitees who watched as the Archbishop of Canterbury baptized Archie with Jordan River water. The happy parents were subsequently able to post pictures for their social media followers, although they didn’t release any details of who acted as Archie’s godparents at the time.
When the godparents’ names leaked out half a year later, however, it may have come as a surprise that the couple didn’t opt for any celebrities. Tiggy Pettifer, who’d been Harry’s nanny, was godmother, and his buddy Mark Dyer was godfather. These are people who helped support Harry following the fatal accident suffered by his mom, Princess Diana.
Since royals usually have a bunch of godparents, it wasn’t a surprise that another companion, Charlie van Straubenzee, was also an alleged godfather – and perhaps there were a few more who remained a secret, too. But the list probably didn’t include brother Prince William or his wife Kate Middleton. Why? Well, the belief is that an uncle or aunt are already part of your life, so you don’t need them as godparents.
Archie, then, is the Queen’s eighth great-grandchild, the latest of a growing brood who know the monarch of the United Kingdom as “Gan-Gan.” The eldest is Savannah Phillips, granddaughter of the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne. Anne’s son, Peter, has a couple of kids, as does her daughter, Zara. And Prince William, of course, has three.
Because of the somewhat complicated rules of the British royalty, Archie isn’t a prince. His parents didn’t want him to have any kind of title, either. He could have been known as the Earl of Dumbarton – one of Harry’s titles – but both Harry and Meghan seemingly decided against it.
However, Archie’s cousins are princes and a princess. The eldest of them, Prince George, is actually third in line for the British throne (first is Charles; second is William). He’s thought to be good for commerce in the U.K. and even had special coins struck when he was born. George, as you may well be aware, is sometimes seen with his parents at public events.
George’s little sister, Princess Charlotte, is next in line for the throne. This represents a change from the past, however. Yes, the 2011 Perth Agreement changed the way that the British crown would pass so that girls now have the same rights as boys. The result was that when her younger brother, Prince Louis, came into the world, he didn’t take her place in the line.
After the christening photos, which had given a brief glimpse of Archie, he next appeared before the cameras on a jaunt to the Billingbear Polo Club near London. He had the day out alongside his royal cousins and watched as his dad played polo. Noticeably, mom Meghan kept a very tight grip on her baby.
Archie was then seen again when Mom and Dad released a picture to mark the onset of 2020. It came next to a jolly New Year’s message, although people may well have noted that public viewings of the youngster had been strictly limited. As it turned out, however, Harry and Meghan’s future was to be much more private than anyone had expected.
Early in January 2020, you see, the royal couple told their social media followers that they wouldn’t be working as “senior royals” anymore. In the situation known as “Megxit” – a joke name referencing the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union, Brexit – the pair would share their time between the U.K. and Canada, and they would even provide for themselves financially.
What followed their announcement was a series of talks with both the Queen and the rest of the senior royals. On January 13, for instance, Harry and Meghan attended the “Sandringham Summit,” where they figured out what would happen going forward. The upshot was that the couple would no longer do royal duties. And the monarch subsequently made a personal statement, which is very rare for her.
“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,” the Queen wrote. “Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”
“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives,” the British monarch continued. “It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the U.K. These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”
The couple hasn’t been entirely cut adrift, however. Harry will still receive some money from his dad, Prince Charles, for example. And the fact that Harry and Meghan are free to take up new opportunities on their own is likely to mean that they won’t be short of cash.
Megxit had been a long time coming, with Harry and Meghan gradually withdrawing from their public duties. This seemingly meant that Archie didn’t get to spend much time with his father’s side of the family. Indeed, it’s thought that Archie has only hung out with his cousins, William’s brood, on a few occasions.
And it’s not just the kids who haven’t seen much of Archie. Despite the fact that the Queen did spend time with him a couple of days after his birth when he came to visit Windsor Castle, she didn’t get to go to his christening. Unfortunately, she and her husband, Philip, had another engagement to attend to.
As we mentioned, Archie caught the photographers’ eyes when he appeared at his dad’s polo event, and that occasion in July 2019 was the last time he’s was pictured with his cousins. What’s more, the family didn’t spend Christmas with the Queen, choosing instead to stay in Canada during the festive period.
And now that Archie’s parents are aiming to spend lots of the year Canada, the time that the baby spends with the Queen is likely to be even less. In January 2020 an insider spoke to U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times and revealed how the monarch really felt about this change. They said, “She will be very sad to have barely seen Archie and that he will miss out on growing up with his cousins and wider family.”
Indeed, for the first couple of months in 2020 the youngster hadn’t seen English soil. He’d been in Canada with Meghan instead. Despite the recent announcement, the family’s plans about how they’ll spend their time aren’t too clear, so when Archie is going to see his “Gan-Gan” is an issue that remains unresolved.
Distance between relatives in the royal family isn’t necessarily a new occurrence, however. That’s right, the Queen reportedly hasn’t always been close to her immediate family, and she apparently wasn’t all that involved in the upbringing of her first son, Charles. In his authorized biography, which came out in 1994, the prince claimed that the staff in his nursery had been the ones who’d nurtured him the most.
Charles’ sister, Anne, has told a different story, though. While she agrees that the nannies played an important role in the royal household, she remembers the Queen taking a keen interest in her kids. “I simply don’t believe there is any evidence whatsoever to suggest that she wasn’t caring,” Anne said during a 2002 interview with the BBC. And it seems that the Queen became more attentive with each successive child, with her youngest – Prince Edward – being her alleged favorite.
Traditionally, the British Royal family tends to all meet up at Christmas time. Most make the trek to Sandringham, one of the Queen’s U.K. residences, to join her for some festive fun. The British sovereign can then enjoy the role of great-grandmother with the little ones. But she does have a particular rule: the kids have their Christmas meal at their own table.
For his part, Charles reportedly loves his nickname of “Grandpa Wales.” He is, of course, the Prince of Wales, and Harry has used “Wales” as a surname in the past. Charles enjoys meeting up with William and his wife and kids. And despite Harry and Meghan’s absence, the rest of the family turned up at Sandringham for Christmas in 2019.
Like the Queen, however, the lack of time that Charles has been able to spend with Archie has apparently left him feeling disappointed. “Where will Archie’s heritage and roots be? What about Diana’s family, the Spencers?” an insider said to The Sunday Times in January 2020. “Harry and William know all too well how damaging an unsettled childhood can be.”
Harry, too, admitted that the family’s withdrawal from royal life had caused “great sadness.” But he seemingly didn’t let it stop him from appreciating the joys of fatherhood. For instance, in January 2020, the new father addressed people from Sentebale – the AIDS foundation that he helped set up – and he discussed with glee how Archie had reveled in his first encounter with snow.
According to Today, Harry told his audience, “When I lost my mom 23 years ago, you took me under your wing. You looked out for me for so long. But the media is a powerful force. And my hope is one day, our collective support for each other can be more powerful because this is so much bigger than just us. It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service.”
“So in that respect, nothing changes,” the Duke of Sussex continued. “It has also been a privilege to meet so many of you and to feel your excitement for our son, Archie, who saw snow for the first time the other day and thought it was bloody brilliant.”
Harry then attempted to explain why Megxit had happened. “It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges,” he said. “And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as this goes, there really was no other option.” And Canadians are very likely to see lots more of Archie, as his parents plan to spend lots of time in Canada in the future.
Even with Archie gone, though, the Queen will still have a family to spend time with. She’s said to be very close to her granddaughter Zara Tindall, for instance. Yes, she apparently loves Zara’s company because they’re not “intellectuals” and can relax in each other’s company. And as one insider pointed out, the Queen allegedly enjoys a giggle as much as anyone.
But Megxit isn’t the only royal scandal that left the British public reeling in 2020. In fact, just when fans thought that things couldn’t get any more dramatic for the royal family, news came of another potential implosion. And this particular bombshell is apparently set to cost one member of the clan a fortune.
Said member of the royal family is David Linley. The nephew of Queen Elizabeth and the son of Princess Margaret, he’s also known by his full title: David Albert Charles Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon. And when he was born, he was fifth in line to the throne – but his ranking has since dropped to 21st.
As well as being a member of the royal family, of course, Linley has a regular job – as many of the lesser-known royals do. Interestingly, he makes and sells his own luxury furniture via a company bearing his name. Linley is also the honorary chairman of auction house Christie’s EMERI, and he and his second cousin opened a restaurant named Deals in London.
Linley’s royal parents had their share of marital troubles as well. Princess Margaret had just split from Captain Peter Townsend, a divorced man she was not permitted to marry under the royal rules of the time, when she met photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones at a dinner in 1958. Months later, after a photo session, they began their romance – which they kept secret at first.
Things then began to move pretty fast. In 1960 – notably, only one year after Townsend got married again – Margaret announced that she would be marrying Armstrong-Jones. Those in the inner royal circle didn’t approve, as Armstrong-Jones wasn’t of the “class” of person a royal would usually marry. The actual royals, however, liked him.
According to Snowdon’s biographer, Anne de Courcy, who spoke to Town & Country magazine in 2019, “They all liked him very much – Tony had great charm, very good manners and he knew exactly how to behave. He felt devotion to the royal family, to the Queen, who he admired immensely. He got on very well with Prince Charles and he adored the Queen Mother.”
The pair got married on May 6, 1960. Theirs was the first ever royal wedding to be shown on television, and at least 300 million people tuned in. Margaret and her new groom then headed off on a six-week Caribbean cruise for their honeymoon, and upon returning they moved into Kensington Palace.
Margaret and Armstrong-Jones began to have children just one year later in 1961, the same year Armstrong-Jones officially gained the title Earl of Snowdon. David was born on November 3, 1961, and his sister Sarah arrived on May 1, 1964. However, after that, the marriage ran into a rough patch.
As biographer Anna de Courcy explained to Town & Country, “Margaret’s template of marriage was quite different from Tony’s. He had parents who split, while her parents’ and sister’s marriage were very happy. She expected her husband to be with her more, but one of Tony’s strongest motivations was work… Margaret didn’t realize it would take him away from her so much.”
Things got much worse from there. In 1974 Margaret began an affair with Roddy Llewellyn, a man 17 years younger than her. Two years later, the tabloid newspaper News of the World got hold of photographs of the pair lounging on a beach, and published them. British politicians were appalled.
In addition to all this Armstrong-Jones was also having his own affairs. It became clear to all that the marriage could not be salvaged. By July 1978, the divorce had been finalized. It was the first split to happen in the royal family for over seven decades – the last divorce had been all the way back in 1901. However, it would be far from the last.
As times changed for the royal family, divorce became less scandalous and more common. Even so, an unusual number of royal splits seemed to take place throughout the 1990s. Most famously of all, heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife Princess Diana divorced in 1996 after a long period of separation.
Also in 1996, two of the Queen’s other children divorced. Princess Anne split from her husband Mark Phillips, and Prince Andrew from his wife Sarah Ferguson. In her annual speech that Christmas the Queen declared, “Each year brings its share of difficulties for many families. This year has I know, been no exception.”
If 1996 was bad, then 2020 was an even worse year for the royals. It was packed with scandals and problems. In January, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle announced – apparently without consulting the rest of the family first – that they would be stepping down as working royals and moving to North America.
Hot on the heels of that came the announcement of yet another divorce. The Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn, the parents of two young children, were set to split after twelve years together. They had actually been separated since 2019, but hadn’t informed the media, only their family.
And just a week later came the announcement that David and Serena Armstrong-Jones were divorcing. A spokesperson for them released the statement, “The Earl and Countess of Snowdon have amicably agreed that their marriage has come to an end and that they shall be divorced. They ask that the press respect their privacy and that of their family.”
As is often the case with divorcing royals, the Earl and Countess of Snowdon had children to consider. They have two children, one born in 1999 and one in 2002 – Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones who has the title of Viscount Linley, and Lady Margarita Elizabeth Rose Alleyne Armstrong-Jones. Both of them have their own, non-royal, careers.
However, the future looked bright for the couple back in 1993, when they married. Amidst all the drama in the wider royal family, with the Charles and Diana divorce and all the rest, they seemed to be a sensible match. Serena herself was an aristocrat, not a commoner. She was the daughter of Viscount Petersham.
When their wedding was announced, Antony Armstrong-Jones told the media, “Both David and Serena are very lucky, especially as they share so many common interests, from their love of the arts generally to the enjoyment of outdoor sports, from architecture to ballet and from fashion to furniture design.”
The wedding, which took place in early October, was very well attended indeed. The Queen was there of course, as were a lot of other royals and a selection of celebrities as well. The guest list included the Queen Mother, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Princess Diana, Jerry Hall and Elton John.
Even though their marriage had been a turbulent one, Linley made sure to honor his parents during and after the wedding ceremony. In 2017 he told Vanity Fair magazine that he always wore his father’s crest on a chain around his neck next to his wedding ring. The ring had also been designed by his father.
Everything pointed towards Linley and Serena being able to last the course, but despite having a good run, they couldn’t save their marriage. What had happened? Various insiders spoke to the media about it, and hinted about what had gone wrong. The couple, they claimed, had simply grown apart.
One source told the Daily Mail, “[Linley] is George VI’s grandson and part of the inner circle of royals. But he is also Mr Non-grand Royal. He turns up on his bicycle wearing a high-vis jacket and gets mistaken for a traffic warden. He is popular and social.” However, no other parties were thought to be involved in the split.
The source continued, “And he is the hardest-working royal – albeit not for the Royal Family. He is endlessly abroad through his Christie’s role… all the travel put a strain on the marriage. Serena spends most of her time in Gloucestershire. He lives in Kensington. It’s been a slow drift apart. I think the impetus for the split is with her but she is very sad about it.”
The anonymous friend went on, “It is going to be tough for David. Everyone is surprised. Even if things weren’t perfect between them, they are both very family oriented. Their main focus now will be on ensuring that their two children and them remain a family unit even if they are no longer living together as a couple.”
But for obvious reasons there was also money to consider. Royals are rich by nature, and over the years Linley has put together a vast fortune. Among the properties he owns are a hunting lodge, Chateau d’Autet in southern France, and an expensive London townhouse which was left to him by his late father.
The Queen’s nephew has always seemed to delight in making money, and in working hard at his furniture business. In 2011 he told British newspaper The Telegraph, in an article titled “My perfect weekend” that for him it was “difficult to escape work completely at weekends because I juggle two careers.”
In the interview Linley also said, “I’m launching the Linley Bentley in China this week. It’s great to have the opportunity to travel; I think cultural changes are very important for the soul and I wouldn’t discount moving abroad completely if it was the best for the family, first, and for my career, second.”
But, as some people had suggested his father before him had done, Linley had apparently lost his marriage through overwork. The Daily Mail newspaper speculated about the fortune, saying, “The divorce itself will involve a complicated division of assets. Linley once confessed that his overriding motivation in life was money.”
Some truly large sums are involved. Reportedly, Linley’s furniture firm alone makes the sort of money most people could only dream of earning in a lifetime. And when Princess Margaret passed away in 2002, she apparently left her son $7 million. That is more than enough on its own for a luxury lifestyle.
Additionally, Linley has always implied he’ll do plenty to maintain that lifestyle. In 2006 he and his sister sold off some of his late mother’s jewellery at auction, which reportedly infuriated their father and caused a lot of furore in the media. He explained to the Sunday Telegraph why he did it the following year.
In July 2007 Linley told the newspaper, “I had the sale for a very simple reason, which was an inheritance tax situation, and wanting to build for my family’s future and my children’s education – normal family requirements.” However, at the time his net worth was estimated to be at least $25 million.
Linley’s justification to the Sunday Telegraph continued, “We are a modern family who need to live in a certain way. The sale rationalised the collection. We still have some of the best pieces, which we will always treasure, but it was an opportunity to put everything on an even keel.”
Controversy had focused on Linley’s decision to sell his mother’s wedding tiara, but he countered, “being realistic, we have a young family that needs educating, and education does not seem to be getting any cheaper, going by the recent figures. We looked very long and hard about whether to include it or not, but I think that my mother would have felt it was a good idea.”
And that wasn’t even the first time Linley had faced criticism regarding his parents’ assets. In 2000, while his mother was still alive, Linley sold her Mustique home, Les Jolies Eaux, for roughly $2.6 million. The land the home was built on had been a wedding present, and reportedly the princess wasn’t happy.
So will this divorce lead to yet another big money controversy? Well, it is worth pointing out that Serena does have plenty of money of her own. From 2010 until 2014 she had her own business, a shop which sold luxury bath products. Furthermore, Serena’s father, Viscount Petersham, is thought to be worth around a staggering $300 million.
If Linley does lose some money in the divorce, he at least seems to be prepared for it. As news of the split spread another insider informed The Sun tabloid newspaper, “If it’s amicable it seems likely assets will be split. If it’s as much as £40million [$51million], each will get half.”
That does indeed seem to be the case, as another anonymous source told newspaper the Express, “David and Serena have agreed that their marriage has broken down, they have in effect been living separate lives for some time. But they are determined to handle their separation in a civilized manner.”
The source went on, “There is no blame or acrimony on either side. They have simply reached a point at which they both feel they have to move on.” However, reportedly the Queen, already apparently unhappy about the scandals hitting the family in 2019 and 2020, was far from pleased at the news.
Royal family expert Richard Fitzwilliams told the Express, “This is undoubtedly a sad moment for the Royal Family… The fact that it is ‘amicable’ doesn’t detract from the surprise that this has happened and also when it has been announced.” However, despite that – and the money Linley stands to lose – this particular royal divorce is still a long way from some of the others when it comes to scandal.