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Wednesday, Dec 02, 2020

Harry and Meghan are not the only royals to step back from duty

Prince Harry and Meghan’s bombshell decision to quit royal life has been hailed as a seismic moment for The Firm.

But the pair are not the only ones to go into effective exile and follow in the footsteps of several of Harry’s Uncles.

The Queen came to throne in 1952 following the death of her father, George VI.

He became monarch following the abdication of his brother, King Edward, who relinquished his birth right to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

The move triggered a constitutional crisis in 1936 and the King and Mrs Simpson went into exile.

In 1940 they moved to the Bahamas where the duke served as governor general following accusations he was a Nazi sympathiser.

After the war ended they made their home in France where they lived the rest of their lives in high society with an allowance from the royal family.

After the Duke’s death in 1972, Mrs Simpson – also known as the Duchess of Windsor – lived in seclusion until she passed away 14 years later.

The pair are buried at Frogmore on the Windsor estate, where Harry and Meghan have now made their home.

The story of an exiled Prince and his American divorcee wife sees obvious parallels with Harry and Meghan, less than a century later.

However, Harry is sixth in line to the throne rather than the monarch and with each new birth sees his claim diminish.

His fate can be compared to his uncle Prince Andrew, the second son and former military man who is increasingly on the periphery of the institution.

The Duke of York – once second in line to the throne – fell out of favour with the British public and stepped away from his royal duties and patronages in November last year.

His fall from grace came after he was grilled on BBC Newsnight by Emily Maitlis over his controversial friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The Duke of York admitted he did not regret his relationship with the disgraced financier, which provoked public outcry.

He was summoned to talks with his mother and he quit royal life with immediate effect.

The Queen and her second son have been seen out riding together in a display of support from the monarch.

However, Andrew has yet to appear in public and skipped the traditional Christmas Day church service at Sandringham with the rest of the royals.

Andrew’s former wife Sarah Ferguson was also effectively banished from the royal fold when they divorced.

They co-parented daughters Beatrice and Eugenie but Fergie was never allowed at any royal events despite still living in the marital home.

She is still seen at functions with the York family, including Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

Harry’s mother Diana was stripped of her title Her Royal Highness after her divorce from Prince Charles was finalised in 1996.

She became known as Diana, Princess of Wales and walked away with a lump-sum settlement of £17 million.

The Princess resigned from her 93 charities saying she was reducing her official engagements to live a more private life.

She maintained her associations with six organisations, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, Centrepoint and the National Aids Trust.

Despite not being a working royal, her life was heavily scrutinised by the media until her death in 1997, aged just 36, in a Paris car crash.

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