The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are enjoying their new lives in Canada.
A far cry from their days at Buckingham Palace, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are spending their free time attending “casual and unannounced” engagements, as well as hiking in the woods near their Vancouver Island home with 9-month-old son Archie, People magazine reported on Wednesday.
“This decision [to leave] had been weighing on them for a long time, and they are relieved to have it done,” a friend of the couple told the outlet for this week’s issue. “A weight has been lifted off their shoulders.
The British royal and former American actress kicked off the New Year by announcing on Jan. 8 they were stepping back as senior royals and instead splitting their time between the U.K. and Canada.
But according to the outlet, their dreams of more freedom came with a price. The couple lost their ability to use their HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) titles and Harry, 35, had to forgo his role as youth ambassador to the Commonwealth, a move that he admitted has brought “great sadness.”
The outlet also noted that Harry, who served 10 years in the British army, including two tours of Afghanistan, was also stripped of his honorary military appointments.
“The military was part of his upbringing and his life,” said a palace insider. “He brought a lot to those guys and understood things. It is sad.”
Harry not only left behind his family and closest friends, but he and his wife, 37 had to negotiate “almost everything they asked for” with his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
But not all is lost, insisted the palace insider.
“Harry doesn’t care about the titles,” said the source. “It doesn’t interest him; it never has.”
As for Markle, the former “Suits” star is “deliberately keeping her circle tight” and strictly relying on her closest friends for support.
“She’s keeping a low profile while things settle down,” said an insider.
Still, the couple has quickly adapted to their new life on picturesque Vancouver Island where their new home is a $14 million mansion off the Pacific coast.
“They both love to be outside and have been loving it there,” claimed a friend. “They are enjoying living a quiet life. They go for long walks, they do yoga, and Meghan cooks. They are real homebodies who love to chill out with Archie and the dogs.”
However, pals claimed that Markle and Harry aren’t just sitting back and relaxing far away from the rest of the British royal family. They said the pair is actively working on “laying the groundwork” for their own charity foundation.
“These plans take a lot of time, and staff is putting in the legwork to prepare it properly and make sure it delivers on the expectations and the couple’s ambitions,” said a source. “[Harry] really cares about his work. He’s a good guy. It’s full throttle for them right now. They have a lot happening in 2020, and it will be really exciting to see.”
Markle and Prince Harry’s bombshell announcement came just months after the pair opened up to host Tom Bradby in ITV’s documentary "Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which aired in October 2019 in both the U.K. and U.S.
While the special aimed to give audiences a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the couple’s recent royal tour of southern African, the couple also spoke out about enduring ruthless tabloid rumors as new parents.
Markle and Harry welcomed a son named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in May 2019. The baby’s arrival came a year after the couple tied the knot in a televised royal ceremony in May 2018.
“I think the grass is always greener,” the former actress said in the interview. “You have no idea. It’s really hard to understand what it’s like. I know what it seems like it should be, but it’s a very different thing.”
She went on to tell Bradby that she would be more understanding of the scrutiny if it were fair.
“I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair,” Markle said. “And that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile.”
Markle pointed out that it’s been frustrating to see her name -- along with her family’s -- in headlines concerning stories she said just aren’t true.
“If things are fair, that completely tracks for me if things are fair,” Markle said. “If I do something wrong I’d be the first one to go, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I would never do that,’ but when people are saying things that are just untrue and they’re being told they’re untrue but they’re allowed to still say them, I don’t know anybody in the world who would feel that that’s OK. And that’s different than just scrutiny. That’s, what would you call that? That’s a different beast. It’s really a different beast.”