Prince Harry and former actress Meghan Markle shocked the world — including their family — on Wednesday by announcing their plans to “step back” as senior members of the royal family.
In a statement on their Instagram account, the couple said they plan to “work to become financially independent” by “starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” Their announcement was preceded by months of scrutiny and rumors that they would be reducing their workloads as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Buckingham Palace followed with a statement saying discussions about the duke and duchess’ plans are “at an early stage” and “complicated.”
Reactions to the developments on social media were swift, with “Meghan” topping U.S. Twitter trends during the afternoon. Some even took to using the hashtag #Megxit in response the news.
Responses included many expressing disbelief at how events unfolded, particularly regarding reports that the royal family was not given advance notice of the announcement.
Still cannot get over Harry and Meghan saying they will “continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen” as if they’re Instagram stars working with a corporate brand— John Stevens (@johnestevens) January 8, 2020
It’s one thing to quit your family. And it’s an entirely different thing to put out a statement telling the world you’re out before informing said family.— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) January 8, 2020
Many voiced their support of the royal couple’s decision and called out what they saw as racist “media bullying” against Meghan.
Think what you want about Meghan Markle. But don’t let anyone tell you she wasn’t the victim of the most vicious racism and media bullying here. Grateful to them both for being so open about mental health challenges as they step back from royal life. Has been painful to watch.— Megan Murphy (@meganmurp) January 8, 2020
Right wing commentators monstered Meghan Markle from the moment she and Harry went public, using anti-Black tropes to whip up endless false controversies about her, and then have the caucasity to act surprised about #Megxit. pic.twitter.com/Xt6gnrurkS— Sister Outrider (@ClaireShrugged) January 8, 2020
Others were critical of Harry and Meghan’s announcement (including some with racist takes that will not be reposted here).
They didn’t even bother consulting the Queen. Ungrateful, entitled brats.— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) January 8, 2020
‘Harry & Meghan wish to keep Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate & want their £600,000 a year security bill paid for...& to keep their titles as the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’https://t.co/8bRcENqplV
Harry and Meghan have dropped a bombshell on their family, alienated many Brits and others who admired them initially, and lost the support of some lifelong fans across the pond. Expect much more criticism like this in the coming days and weeks. https://t.co/FfUWVpNumX— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) January 8, 2020
Still others took the occasion to bring up other royal controversies or raised questions about the implication of the duke and duchess’ move.
Re Harry & Meghan: am I the only person torn between 1) I couldn't care less 2) Good for them and 3) I assume they'll pay back the £2.4 million we paid to renovate their home now. That could stock a lot of food banks.— Jane Fallon (@JaneFallon) January 8, 2020
Of course, there were plenty of people who just seized on the occasion to make jokes.
I [38F] don't feel welcome in my husband [35M]'s home country. His family [93F, 98M, 71M, 72F, 37M, 37F] and subjects [all ages] are very demanding. How can I convince him to set boundaries?— Meredith Haggerty (@manymanywords) January 8, 2020
NEW NEIGHBOR: Meghan who?— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) January 8, 2020
MEGHAN [after a long look into the distance]: Meghan Skywalker
Damnnnn...Meghan just Yoko Ono'd the Royal Family.— Bridget Phetasy (@BridgetPhetasy) January 8, 2020
Parody Twitter accounts also got in on the fun.