This is not a constitutional crisis. At most the announcement by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – ‘Harry and Meghan’ – is a family crisis, and in the long term perspective is more likely to be seen as an unfortunately managed (and possibly unfortunately timed) announcement by two family members which, in the shock of it, led to personal hurt feelings being vocalised.
Standing back from the current level of shock and resentment reported in (and shared by) the media, what this is actually about is the desire of two members of the royal family to cease to be counted as ‘senior’ or front-line royals, but to do so rather sooner than might traditionally have been expected.
This move from the Sussexes is, in reality, something that fits well with the previously advertised agenda of Prince Charles, the next-in-line to the throne. He has always wished to ensure that the monarchy is slimmed down, with the headline focus being on those in very direct line of succession – as the Christmas photographs of four generations (the Queen, and her three heirs in line: Princes Charles, William and George) underline.
In this scenario, Harry and Meghan are the reserves on the bench – there to step up to the plate when there is a need for an extra major royal duty, such as an overseas tour, and to fill in as the Queen’s representatives in ways that take pressure off the front-line royals.
But as the next generation grows up, in the shape of the Cambridge children, they will be less and less needed. And if a slimmed down monarchy is to be achieved, they and their children will inevitably be relegated to a less senior status.