The Duke and Duchess of Sussex still working out their split from the royal family. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle want to broker a royal exit extension and have plans to return to the U.K. to meet face-to-face with senior royals, according to The Sun. The couple, who are currently living and working in California, will participate in a series of "friendly video calls" and return to England in 2021 to finalize the deal if COVID-19 restrictions allow. The existing agreement expires on March 31.
In January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan announced plans to step back from duties as senior royals on Instagram, writing of plans to "work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen." The couple also revealed intentions to split time between North America and the United Kingdom, allowing them to raise their son Archie with an appreciation for the crown while "providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter."
Meghan and Prince Harry are reportedly eager to hold onto their royal patronages as part of the new agreement. One other area of interest is Prince Harry's military titles, which he was stripped of as part of the initial royal exit agreement. The military roles the duke held are still open and will remain unfilled until next summer. "Harry regrets losing those titles and keeping them open for as long as possible keeps that olive branch out," a top aide told The Sun. "Don’t be surprised if they are not filled even after March 31."
Andrew Morton, a royal biographer, told The Sun that the couple's relationship with the royal family is improving following their departure. He added that Prince Harry and Meghan want to return to the U.K. for the queen's 95th birthday on April 21, Prince Philip's 100th birthday on June 10, and the unveiling of the Princess Diana statue on July 1, which would have been her 60th birthday. The Sussexes traded Christmas gifts with Kate Middleton and Prince William, which could also signal better relations between the two families, according to People.
Morton confirmed that Prince Harry has been in contact with the queen, and while some of the negotiations will take place over Zoom, "Harry wants to meet face to face to tie it all up." He added: "Certain things you need to be there in person to sort."
In the meantime, Harry and Meghan are staying active with charitable causes, including their own foundation, Archewell. They've also been busy in the entertainment space, signing multi-year deals with the likes of Spotify and Netflix to produce a range of content, from podcasts to documentaries to children's programming.