Buckingham Palace announced on Saturday that Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle would no longer be working members of the British royal family, and would no longer use their “Royal Highness” titles. Harry and Meghan had earlier said they would step back as senior members of the royal family, spend more time in North America, and “work to become financially independent”.
Like Harry and Meghan, royals in other parts of Europe too, have had trouble confining themselves solely to traditional duties, and have tried to pursue professional careers.
King Willem-Alexander is an avid pilot. In 2017, the monarch revealed that he had served as First Officer on KLM flights for 21 years, even after taking over the throne from his mother Beatrix in 2013, all the while balancing royal duties.
His wife Maxima has served as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development since 2009.
When Sweden’s Princess Madeleine married British-American financier Christopher O’Neill in 2013, the latter refused a royal title so that he could keep working.
The youngest child of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Madeleine performs royal duties, and is seventh in line to the throne. O’Neill appears with the royal family on major occasions.
Princess Cristina, sixth in line to the throne and one of King Felipe VI’s older siblings, chose to work in the private sector, taking up jobs at the Caixa Bank Foundation and the Aga Khan Trust.
Cristina and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin were embroiled in controversy in 2016 after Urdangarin was convicted of embezzling around € 6.2 million of public funds, and sent to jail. The princess lost her “Duchess of Palma” title during the inquiry, but was herself acquitted of wrongdoing.
King Harald’s oldest child and fourth in line to the throne, Princess Martha Louise, dropped the “Royal Highness” part of her title in 2002, saying she wanted to pursue private interests, and married Norwegian writer Ari Behn that year.
After the couple divorced in 2017, Martha dated self-described American ‘shaman’ Durek Verrett, and the pair organised seminars titled “The Princess and the Shaman”. Following widespread criticism, Martha apologised and promised not to use her royal title in the future.
Prince Laurent, brother of King Philippe and 13th in line to the throne, has been dubbed prince maudit or “cursed prince” for his unconventional ways. In 2018, the Belgian House of Representatives slashed Laurent’s annual endowment of around €300,000 by €46,000 for a year after the prince attended, in the previous year, a Chinese embassy reception in military uniform without government permission.
Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest child and Harry’s uncle, Prince Edward, ran a TV production firm from 1993 to 2011. His wife Sophie ran a public relations company, and was the target of a sting operation in 2001, in which she told an undercover reporter pretending to be a wealthy sheikh that her royal status could fetch him greater publicity.
The couple have since been devoted to royal duties, and have kept away from private projects.
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