Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had their dream wedding on May 19, 2018, in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. At that point in time, many thought it was the beginning – and continuation – of a new era for the Royal Family, with Harry and Meghan and William and Kate set to take The Firm forward.

Of course, we know today that didn’t happen, and now, three years later, Harry and Meghan remain alienated from the fold.

At the time of their wedding, Harry and Meghan were said to have a very clear idea of what they wanted to do. Before tackling their royal duties, they were, according to Harry’s former foreign affairs advisor, set to live abroad for about a year.

However, their plan was crushed for two main reasons. And who knows, maybe that played a part in their decision to leave the Royal Family for good?

Harry and Meghan’s last few years have been hectic by any measurement. That said, the family of four finally appears to be settling after leaving Buckingham Palace two years ago.

In February of last year, Harry and Meghan sat down with TV host Oprah in the garden of her home in Montecito, California. They proceeded to spill the truth about their experiences within The Firm.

Meghan Markle didn’t hold back, revealing that Prince Charles was refusing to take Harry’s phone calls and stating that Kate Middleton had made her cry over the flower-girl dresses on her wedding day – this was in direct contradiction to earlier claims made by the tabloids.

However, the most shocking part occurred when Meghan claimed conversations had taken place within the palace concerning how dark Archie’s skin would be.

“They were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem?” Oprah asked Meghan.

“I wasn’t able to follow up with why,” Meghan replied. “But that — if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.”

She declined to name a specific person who had commented, adding only: “I think that would be very damaging to them.”

In November 2017, Harry and Meghan announced through the British Royal Family that they were engaged. Their subsequent wedding took place on May 19, 2018 – the service was held at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

From the public’s perspective, the wedding of Harry and Meghan was the ideal union, a mirror-image of perfection following the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton seven years earlier.

But was everything really as it seemed?

Both royal weddings saw millions of people celebrating their respective unions. Of course, Kate and William’s wedding was somewhat more special as it was a future king tying the knot to his future queen.

Even so, both weddings were splendid events, although they differed.

Harry and Meghan’s private life – and the media coverage they got beforehand – made their wedding unique. One royal expert even went as far as to claim that the guests were there just to … be there?

It was reportedly evident to some that Harry and Meghan might ponder leaving the Royal Family early on during their marriage. Just days after the wedding, Jonny Dymond, royal correspondent for the BBC, felt that something was off.

“I mean, within days, really … There were stories coming out about how Megan behaved towards staff,” he said in the BBC documentary The Prince and the Press.

Camilla Tominey – who first broke the story of Harry and Meghan’s relationship, added – “We were getting briefings that all was not well, with the relationship between William and Harry, Meghan, and Kate, and the relationship between Harry and Meghan and the royal household.”

Still, to this day, many things are uncertain surrounding what happened. However, Harry and Meghan have made it clear that there were several reasons behind why they decided to leave The Firm permanently.

“Let’s get out of here”
In an interview with The Cut, Meghan Markle opened up about the moment she and Harry decided to leave the UK. The British press coverage scrutinized the Duchess, which affected her health and her relationship with the royal hierarchy.

As the lives of Harry and Meghan – and the rest of The Firm – were taxpayer-funded, the tabloids claimed the intense scrutiny was of “public interest.” As a result, the couple suggested they could work and earn their own money instead of being taxpayer funded.

Speaking with The Cut, Meghan explained that they thought that “maybe all the noise would stop.”

Moreover, they appealed to the Royal Family to be able to leave the UK behind and instead move to another country in the Commonwealth, perhaps South Africa or Canada.

Sadly, the answer was no.

“Anything to just … because just by existing, we were upsetting the dynamic of the hierarchy. So we go, ‘Okay, fine, let’s get out of here. Happy to,’” Meghan recalled.

She added that their request wasn’t “reinventing the wheel” and that other Royal Family members had gotten the green light for the same arrangement.

“That, for whatever reason, is not something that we were allowed to do, even though several other members of the family do that exact thing,” Meghan said.

Yet before the couple decided to leave the Royal Family, Harry and Meghan reportedly had another major plan. And if it had gone through, maybe things would look different today.

Harry & Meghan only wanted to take one year away from royal life
According to Harry and William’s former foreign affairs advisor, David Manning, Harry and Meghan wanted to move to another country for a year after their wedding, then return to the Royal Family and crack on with their duties.

Manning claims in Valentine Low’s book Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown that he drew up future proposals for Harry and Meghan as he felt there was appropriate room for them to pursue their philanthropic interests. Moreover, he thought Meghan would want private time in the US to give her a break from the British tabloid press, who often hounding her. Such a break would also have given Harry the opportunity to pursue his love of Africa and deep-rooted interest in conservation.

“Soon after the Queen and Prince Philip married, they’d lived in Malta, while William and Kate started married life in Anglesey,” Low writes in Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown.

“Harry and Meghan could also go away for a while, said Manning. A year in South Africa seemed the obvious choice. A paper was written outlining the options, and the couple were said to like the idea of a year in Africa.”

“Manning also looked to other royal couples and how they spent their time before royal life completely took over,” The Mirror reports.

Sadly, their hiatus didn’t happen. Instead, Low writes: “Money and security were probably the two big problems that scuppered it.”

“It ran into the sand,” Manning explained. ‘The problems were real, and there was not a willingness to find the resources.’”

In the bombshell Oprah interview last year, Harry and Meghan spoke about their plan following the wedding. They said they wanted to continue representing the Queen as non-senior-royals and relocate to another country within the Commonwealth.

“If this isn’t working for everyone, we’re in a lot of pain”
Canada was a choice, and before they moved to California, they actually stayed there for a while.

As previously mentioned, several other Royal Family members have taken some time off after getting married. For example, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip married in 1947 and spent two years, between 1949 and 1951, of their marriage in Malta.

Philips’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, owned a villa named Villa Guardamangia, in which the royal couple lived. Philip was also stationed on the island as a naval officer. He was later appointed second-in-command of HMS Chequers, which operated from Malta as a part of the Mediterranean fleet.

“Malta was always very special to me. I remember happy days here with Prince Philip when we were first married,” the Queen said in 2015.

“The Princess really loved Malta because she was able to lead a normal life, wander through the town and do some shopping,” Lady Pamela, one of the Queen’s bridesmaids, said.

“It was the only place that she was able to live the life of a naval officer’s wife, just like all the other wives. It was wonderful for her and it’s why they have such a nostalgia for Malta.”