There were some major moments of tension that took place around the holidays at Buckingham Palace between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the rest of the royal family. Now, in hindsight, these moments beg the question: Was the chaos that consumed the palace at Christmas what finally drove Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to embark on a separate path from the royal family once and for all?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stunned the world and their own family members when they announced last week that they would be splitting their time between the U.K. and North America while striving to be financially independent.
But perhaps the monumental Megxit wasn't as abrupt as many claim it to be. Strains within the royal family appeared to be at an all-time high around what is supposed to be the most magical time of year.
A tell-tale sign of the holiday chaos involved the queen's annual Christmas address, which ended up being memorable for much more than just her reflection of a "quite bumpy" 2019 on the heels of her son Prince Andrew's sexual assault scandal. While sitting at her desk, the queen was surrounded by several keepsake photos of her family, including Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and their three children. However, noticeably absent from the several framed photos in the filmed address were Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and their son, Archie.
It was a stark contrast to the queen's actions one year prior, when she proudly displayed two images of Markle and Harry, including an official wedding portrait and a family snapshot of the pair celebrating Charles' 70th birthday, according to The Sun.
Prince Harry and Markle raised eyebrows ahead of the holiday when they revealed they would not be joining the queen and the rest of the royal family for their annual Christmas traditions in Sandringham.
The parents to 8-month-old Archie decided to celebrate the holiday up north in Canada with Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland.
Meghan and Harry's absence likely made worse what was already a stressful holiday situation after Prince Philip was hospitalized for a "pre-existing condition."
Buckingham Palace confirmed to Fox News that Queen Elizabeth II's husband was released just in time for Christmas after spending four days in the hospital.
Now, all eyes are on Harry and Meghan, who are rumored to be making an overseas move to Canada amid their royal exit.
They announced on Wednesday their decision to reduce their roles as royals in an effort to earn their own money while still supporting the queen.
"We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," the couple shared on Instagram Wednesday. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages," they continued. "This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity."
"We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties," they said. "Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support."
Buckingham Palace responded to the news, sharing that the couple's exit would take time to sort out. It wasn't until Monday that the queen released a new statement showing support for the royal couple in their transition.
"Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family," wrote the queen after speaking with Harry and Meghan on Monday.
"We respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family," the queen's statement continued. "Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives."
Fox News' Stephanie Nolasco and Julius Young contributed to this report.