As the news that Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have decided to step down as “senior” members of the royal family reverberated around the world, people in London appeared divided on whether they supported their choice.
Dubbed #Megxit by some on social media, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in statement Wednesday that they would “work to become financially independent” while dividing their time between the United Kingdom and North America.
On an unseasonably warm day on the streets of England’s capital, members of the public questioned by NBC News appeared split about whether the couple's plans were a good thing.
“It is certainly unprecedented, and everything is uncertain,” Harvey Grant, 26, said. “In terms of finances, I think it’s a great thing if they are able to do it. It’s very brave, isn’t it?”
He added that he could not “imagine the media onslaught that is going to come.”
Anna Thompson, 55, from Kent, a county to London’s southeast, said she understood their decision but hope they would play a role within the royal family.
“Just because you’re British does not mean you are a supporter of the monarchy,” she said. "I am a supporter and I think they do an enormous amount and are great ambassadors for this country.”
She added that she would be “very sorry” if Harry and Meghan no longer took part in royal duties.
However, London-based architect Paul Keump suggested the monarchy was about “to fizzle out anyway, so good for them if they want to back out of it.”
Alice Mercer, a teacher visiting London from the county of Dorset, around 120 miles southwest of the capital, suggested the intense media coverage may have played a role in Harry and Meghan’s decision.
The royal couple said they would take a revised media approach to ensure diverse and open access to their work" in their statement, which was criticized by the National Union of Journalists.
“They’ve received a lot of criticism, so you really can’t blame them. Meghan has gotten a lot of hate from the media, and it makes sense they want privacy, especially now that they have a young child,” Mercer, 27, said.
“I think it will be pretty impossible for them to be fully financially independent but admire that they say they will try. I also admire all their charity work,” she added.
Student Frederick Bathurst, 21, said their announcement was badly timed.
Pointing out that more than $3 million worth of taxpayer money had been spent renovating the couple’s home, Frogmore Cottage, in Windsor, a small town around 30 miles west of London, he said: “It’s like, ‘We’ve now given you a ton of money, what do we get in return?’”
After seeing the news on television, he added that his “mother said the whole thing was disgraceful.”
Photographer Penny Booth, 25, was visiting London from the Lake District in England's north.
“For me, I just think, they're human, life is complicated, give everyone a break,” she said.