The circle of royal duty that Harry and Meghan are finding difficult to square

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are stepping back as "senior" members of the Royal FamilyREUTERS/Mark Blinch

The announcement from Harry and Meghan that they are stepping back as "senior" members of the Royal Family will cause a variety of responses from the public.

One of them will be sadness. There is a tragic element to the blinkeredness and immaturity that mistakes a bid for independence as "carving a progressive role."

It isn't that at all of course. In reality it is choosing between two competing philosophies or ethics. One, which the monarchy is founded on and depends on, is a Christian one in which doing one's duty on behalf of others takes priority over self-interest.

The other is a concentration on self-interest and self-expression (however it is justified) at the expense of self-sacrifice and duty.

The problem for the Sussexes is that they have chosen to put their own self-interests before their public duty and family.

It has been tried before both by ordinary people and by prominent people like Edward VIII. The tragedy is that it almost always ends in a growth of self-pity and sadness.

Although they are banking on a degree of public support, a narrative that includes making Kate Windsor cry and cold-shouldering a beloved grandmother, may not elicit as much public sympathy as they hope.

The tragedy is that they have undoubtedly underestimated the cost of an independence that sits badly with the wealth and privilege they appear to feel they have a right to.

We can only pray for them; praying particularly for wisdom to make better choices and charity to mend the relationships they have broken at the price of pursuing their own interests.

Gavin Ashenden was a Church of England priest and Chaplain to the Queen before being received into the Roman Catholic Church in December 2019.  He blogs about church and current affairs at