Like it or not, the Duchess of Sussex has quickly risen to become one of the world's most-watched women, and one of the most divisive.
Royal fans love to fawn over Duchess Meghan's stunning outfits, the adorable photos of her gorgeous son, baby Archie, and cannot get enough of her incredible love story with Prince Harry, and how much the couple still clearly adore each other.
But while the new mother has enjoyed several years of overwhelming public support, since joining the royal family, the tide has turned against her. Especially now she and Prince Harry have decided to "step back" from their senior royal duties and split their time between the UK and the US.
The 38-year-old former Suits actress can no longer escape the intense public backlash towards her every move, as well as the frosty reception she has also received from inside the royal family itself.
So how on earth did this happen? How did the most adored woman in the world become the subject of such vicious tabloid chatter?
Here's a timeline explaining exactly how it happened.
Just 18 months after they were first introduced by friends in London, Harry and Meghan announced their engagement to the world.
Arriving to their photocall with the world's press hand-in-hand, the new couple couldn't take their eyes off each other.
But this happy news didn't come out of the blue. The announcement came just months after Kensington Palace released an extraordinary statement begging the media to give Meghan some privacy.
This was a clear indication that Harry was serious about this relationship and didn't want to scare Meghan off.
News coverage at the time was overwhelmingly positive. Finally the heartbroken little boy that walked behind his mother's coffin in 1997 had found his happily ever after.
Everything about this wedding was straight out of a fairytale - the nervous Prince, the beautiful bride in her custom Givenchy gown and that stunning veil embroidered with all the flowers of the Commonwealth countries.
As Harry and Meghan shared their first kiss in front of the world, we collectively swooned.
Once again, Harry and Meghan mania dominated the headlines and unsurprisingly, the number one news event of 2018 was the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's royal wedding.
An estimated 1.9 billion tuned in around the world to watch the couple exchange vows at St George's Chapel, Windsor in May with their wedding injecting an estimated $AUD3.5 billion dollars into the British economy.
Whether it was fans stocking up on their Meghan and Harry memorabilia or tourists jetting into Windsor from around the world, the pin-up royal couple were literally worth their weight in gold.
Ok, so we know Harry's obsessed with Meghan, but what about The Queen?
Back in June, the newlywed and Queen Elizabeth had their first official royal outing together and it could not have been more of a success, with the pair looking close and spending the whole day giggling together.
At one point during the day, the Queen stepped in to lend a helping hand to the nervous Duchess.
In a moment of confusion when entering a car, Meghan was unsure if she or the monarch should get in first. A flustered Meghan stepped back to let the Queen enter the car first.
"What is your preference?" Meghan politely asked the Queen, to which she replied: "You go first."
"Oh okay," Meghan responded, before quickly getting into the vehicle.
Soon after this cute day out, it emerged that Meghan has her own nickname for the Queen.
According to the editor of Majesty magazine, Meghan refers to the Queen as "Mama, rather than the traditional "Ma'am".
In their official engagement video released by the BBC, Prince Harry even jokes that the Queen's dogs took an instant liking to Meghan.
"I've spent the last 33 years being barked at, this one walks in, absolutely nothing," Harry said of Meghan's first encounter with the royal pups. "Just wagging tails, and I was like, 'Argh.'"
The only thing better than one Duchess, is two Duchesses!
Kate and Meghan decided to ditch their husbands for their first solo outing together at Wimbledon, to watch Meghan's good friend Serena Williams in the grand final.
Duchess Kate is a huge tennis fan, a Wimbledon Patron and a regular in the royal box.
She and Meghan both looked stunning in their chic outfits and chatted amicably throughout the match.
While some commentators believed their outing was a genuine display of friendship, others speculated the pair were simply tolerating each other for the sake of the cameras.
Just hours after the Sussexes touched down in Sydney for the first stop of their royal tour down under, Harry and Meghan confirmed they are having a baby!
The next day, Meghan debuted her mini baby bump to the world in a chic white dress from Aussie designer Karen Gee.
Now we're used to seeing Meghan cradle her stomach, but the first time we saw that was when the couple visited Fraser Island. Meghan wore a beautiful blue and white striped linen dress from US brand Reformation and held her bump as she walked hand-in-hand with Harry.
Throughout the two week-tour, Meghan amazed locals and indeed, the world. She got up at 4am to do yoga, baked banana bread late at night and didn't drop the ball once during an insane travel schedule.
We were all in awe of her poise, grace and patience.
Royal fans could not get enough of Harry and Meghan, with huge crowds turning out all around the country to get a glimpse of the happy couple and that cute bump.
"From myself, my wife and our little bump, we are so grateful to be here," Harry said at the time.
Meghan was praised for delivering a powerful speech about feminism and women's empowerment in New Zealand.
One fan wrote on Twitter: "You're championing woman! You're using your platform to shine a light on woman's rights! Thank you so much for staying true to yourself!"
While another said: "WOW. great speech and my goodness is she gorgeous and well spoken!"
This is the exact moment when things started to shift.
Last month, the Duke and Duchess announced they would be moving out of Kensington Palace, where they currently live next door to the Cambridges and their three children, to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.
The sprawling 10-bedroom residence, which was gifted to the couple from The Queen, sits within the private Home Park and looks out onto the stunning grounds of Frogmore House. Meghan reportedly wants to renovate the property to include a new nursery and a gym and yoga studio.
"Windsor is a very special place for Their Royal Highnessess and they are grateful that their official residence will be on the estate," Kensington Palace said in a statement.
Harry and Meghan were married in Windsor's St George's Chapel and their reception celebrations were held at Frogmore House.
But royal sources have been leaking gossip to the British tabloids, claiming the Sussexes are moving because of tension with Prince William and Duchess Kate.
"The initial plan was for Harry and Meghan to move out of their cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace and into one of the main apartments. But there has been a bit of tension between the brothers," a source told The Sun.
Meanwhile, a new bombshell new report from The Sun has also shed light on Meghan and Harry's supposed tempers before their wedding.
In an astonishing allegation, the Queen was forced to step in and pull Meghan and Harry in line after Meghan was told she couldn't wear the original tiara she'd picked out from the Queen's collection.
"Meghan had her heart set on this tiara with emeralds and Prince Harry hit the roof when they were told it was impossible for her to wear it," a spy told The Sun.
As the origins of the tiara couldn't be 100 per cent confirmed and with fears it could have questionable ties to Russia, the Queen apparently would not loan it out.
And it did not go down well.
"There was a very heated exchange that prompted the Queen to speak to Harry. She said, 'Meghan cannot have whatever she wants. She gets what tiara she's given by me,'" the insider claimed.
Adding: "The Queen also questioned why Meghan needed a veil for the wedding, given it was to be her second marriage. The message from the Queen was very much Meghan needed to think about how she speaks to staff members and be careful to follow family protocols."
You know you've misstepped when you get a stern dressing down from the Queen.
Rumours of tension between the two Duchesses escalated following reports that Catherine was reportedly left "in tears" after her daughter Princess Charlotte's bridesmaid dress fitting for Meghan's wedding in May.
It's unclear exactly what caused the Duchess to burst into tears, but The Daily Beast claims Kate and Meghan had an argument over Charlotte's dress.
An insider told the UK's Telegraph: "Kate had only just given birth to Prince Louis and was feeling quite emotional."
Many royal insiders have insisted there's actually no bad blood between Duchess Catherine and Duchess Meghan, but their respective husbands are not getting along.
A source told Vanity Fair that there is no feud between Kate and Meghan.
"Kate and Meghan are very different people and they don't have a lot in common but they have made an effort to get along," said the source. "Any issues are between the brothers."
Some sources have said Harry and William's bond said to be "almost irretrievably broken" because William "refused to roll out the red carpet" for Harry's new bride.
"Harry didn't think William was rolling out the red carpet for Meghan, and told him so," a source spills of the brother's rift.
"They had a bit of a fallout, which was only resolved when Prince Charles stepped in and asked William to make an effort."
Three royal aides have resigned since Meghan and Harry got married in May.This week, it was announced that Samantha Cohen, private secretary to Harry and Meghan, will leave their service in British spring 2019 - after the birth of the new royal baby.
She's worked with the royal family for 17 years. According to The Times, a source close to Meghan said: "Sam will be a huge loss."
"Going forward, Meghan might need someone cut from a slightly different cloth to traditional courtiers, who is not a career civil servant or royal insider".
Nicknamed Samantha 'The Panther,' the former royal aideserved as assistant private secretary and communications secretary to the Queen and was one of her most trusted members of staff.
Last month, a palace aide and assistant called "Melissa" quit because of what the Daily Mail described as "Hurricane Meghan."
She reportedly put off staff with her "particular brand of 'up and at 'em' West Coast energy" and rumoured routine of "getting up at 5am [and] bombarding aides with texts and her eyebrow-raising fashion.
"Meghan put a lot of demands on her and it ended up with her in tears," a source The Mirror.
"Melissa is a total professional and fantastic at her job, but things came to a head and it was easier for them both to go their separate ways."
The Palace has refused to comment on all of these rumours, except for one fact.
Britain's top selling newspaper The Sun claimed tension between the royal sisters-in-law reached boiling point when Kate cautioned Meghan over her strict behaviour towards her staff members, telling her: "That's unacceptable, they're my staff and I speak to them."
A source revealed to the publication: "Her and Kate fell out when she b - - - d Kate's staff."
The Palace was quick to shut down the report, releasing a rare statement saying: "This never happened."
In December, a royal insider told US Weekly that Meghan is "fed-up" with the rumours and her inability to "stand up for herself" on social media.
Meghan reportedly feels like she "has no voice" and is "frustrated" that she is unable to defend herself.
"It's just been frustrating and stressful to have no voice," a royal source told the magazine.
'She's always relied on her own voice to stand up for others, and for herself. So not being able to say anything is a debilitating feeling.
'She's always been so independent, her entire life, and that's all been taken away from her. She's always been able to clap back on social media and now she can't.'
WATCH: The moment Meghan is caught fake-laughing on camera ...
When all else fails, you go to the Queen to sort the drama out.
That's exactly what Duchess Catherine did, driving herself to Buckingham palace in a Range Rover to have a secret meeting with the Queen.
Was she there to discuss these ongoing feud rumours? We'll have to wait to find out.
WATCH BELOW: Duchess Catherine drives herself to Buckingham Palace. Post continues...
Around this time of year, the royals release their new Christmas card photos.
They're always super cute and candid - and this year was no exception.
But it's interesting to note that the Cambridges and the Sussexes chose to release two separate photos of their own families on the same day, through Kensington Palace's official social media accounts.
Duchess Catherine and Prince William released an adorable picture of their family-of-five dressed in jeans on a tree trunk outside their country home in Norfolk.
The three youngsters, Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3 and Prince Louis, 7 months are seen cuddling up to their parents and looking utterly charming.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's Christmas photo is a never-before-seen picture of the pair at their wedding in May. The couple are hand-in-hand, facing away from the camera, sharing a romantic moment on the grounds of Frogmore House, the Windsor residence they are about to call their new home.
Many royal fans took the photo as a sign of a subtle snub. With the couple faced away from the camera, many interpreted that message to mean they are turning their back on the naysayers.
One fan on the Kensington Palace Instagram account described the pose as "icy".
"Icy is the word, of course it carries not so subtle messages," they wrote. "Looking at their backs?? For Xmas wishes??? Rude!!!!"
But others disagreed. Another fan commented: "It's a beautiful photo. I love them! It's their first Christmas as a married couple and this was a special moment for them this year. Why not sure it. Who cares if you can't see their faces. Big deal! We see their faces everywhere. I love it!"
Whether or not the Sussex's Christmas photo was an intentional snub, there's no denying the press has changed their tune and royal fans are following suit.
Just look at this side-by-side image showing the difference in media coverage between Harry and Meghan's engagement, and now.
Slide across to see what a difference a year makes!
The royal family traditionally spend Christmas Day at their Sandringham country estate in Norfolk and attend an annual church service together.
Despite rumours of a feud between our favourite "Fab Four", the two young couples showed a united front as they happily walked together into the church, smiling at onlookers and receiving flowers.
All eyes were on the Duchesses, analysing every movement to see if they really were playing happy families. The pair appeared chatty and amicable, smiling to each other. The Internet even went wild when Meghan rested her hand on Kate's back - a gentle attempt at conciliation, perhaps?
It's interesting to note that while Meghan and Harry walked arm-in-arm - which is just standard PDA for them - Kate and William simply walked side by wide.
But take another look at William and Harry. They may have walked together like they did last year, but the two royal brothers kept their distance with their wives in the middle and did not interact at all. In fact, body language expert Judi James says it's a very different scenario to their normal relationship.
"We've been so entranced by the two women that we've forgotten about Prince William and Prince Harry. Apart from having very rigid, fixed smiles on their faces, I didn't see anything in the way of glances or exchanges between them," she told The Daily Mail.
"They've always been seen laughing and sharing jokes, they usually have lots of 'tie-signs' (gestures that signal closeness) between them. They've both got their hands stuck in their pockets and I didn't see any connection signals between them at all."
WATCH BELOW: The 'Fab Four' walking together on Christmas Day 2018
The Duchess celebrated her 37th birthday on January 9 2019 with a very low-key celebration at home with family and some close friends - but not everyone was invited.
Meghan reportedly suffered an incredibly deliberate snub by her new sister-in-law from the event.
"Kate had a gathering for her 37th birthday at Kensington Palace," a source told Woman's Day.
"It was her, William, the kids, her mum, dad, sister Pippa and husband [James Matthews]. Harry and Meghan were not invited, which she deemed humiliating."
"Even though they don't get on, the Queen and Prince Charles had asked that they make a good public show of trying to make nice. Poor Kate was so nervous about her own birthday and how to handle the family drama she was almost in tears."
An insider revealed to a US magazine that it's William – not Kate – who Meghan should be ranting about. "Harry desperately wants his wife to be happy and finds it difficult to say no to her. William feels she is tearing the royal family apart," a source said.
Meghan can't seem to escape the theory that she is difficult and demanding, particularly to her staff.
That rumour doesn't seem to be dying down any time soon, with yet another royal employee resigning. This time it's her female bodyguard.
The "highly regarded inspector" was the first woman to hold such a prestigious position in the Royal family and also played a pivotal role in removing Meghan from a crowded Fiji market in October last year.
The bodyguard reportedly resigned from Scotland Yard due to the challenging nature of the role, particularly as Meghan wished to be seen as "one of the people".
While there are no claims that Meghan and her chief protection officer (who is not being named) clashed, the resignation comes after the recent departure of Meghan's personal assistant, Melissa Touabti and speculation that private secretary Samantha Cohen had also resigned from her duties.
Sources told the Daily Mail that "even though [Meghan] was a famous actress, she could still do what she wanted in the way of getting around freely.
"But in her current role she can't go anywhere without her protection team, and that's a massive constraining force on an individual like her."
Until recently, Prince Harry and Meghan lived and shared a household with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with both couples residing at Kensington Palace and sharing many formal resources, including a full team of staff made up of a private secretary, press secretary, assistants and bodyguards.
But in March, the Queen announced the creation of the new Sussex Household, meaning Harry and Meghan now have their own staff.
"The Queen has agreed to the creation of a new Household for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, following their marriage in May last year. The Household, which will be created with the support of The Queen and The Prince of Wales, will be established in the spring," read the statement from Buckingham Palace.
"The Duke of Sussex currently has his own private office, which has been supporting The Duchess since the engagement of Their Royal Highnesses in November 2017," it read.
"This long-planned move will ensure that permanent support arrangements for The Duke and Duchess's work are in place as they start their family and move to their official residence at Frogmore Cottage."
While many royal commentators argued the split was "very normal", some fans on social media saw it as another sign that a feuding Harry and William were drifting further apart.
"Charles and Andrew don't share an office. Edward and Anne don't share an office. It was always going to happen," noted respected commentator Victoria Arbiter, whose father serves in the royal offices of the Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
"Because it happened upon Harry getting married, people looked for something to blame, which is bizarre. I don't know why we need to blame anybody. It just speaks to the level and the volume of work that these couples are going to be carrying out."
After months of waiting for renovations of their new family home to be completed, the Sussexes finally moved into Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.
The extensive renovations, which are thought to have cost upwards of $5 million, reportedly include a yoga studio, triple-glazed windows (to block out the noise from nearby Heathrow Airport) and a low-carbon energy unit.
A royal insider told Elle the couple "couldn't be more excited about starting their life together with their new baby and are keen that their child will be able to enjoy their privacy away from the fish bowl."
It seems the arrival of the little one has brought some peace to the relationships within the royal family, with several members of the family paying Harry and Meghan a visit at their new abode.
The Queen was reportedly their first formal visitor, as she "wanted to formally welcome the Sussexes to their new home, a source told The Sun.
It was later revealed that the Cambridges also had a secret visit to Frogmore while they were in Windsor to attend the official royal church service on Easter Sunday.
Kate, William and Harry had all attended an Easter service at the nearby St George's Chapel, but Meghan had been unable to attend due to being heavily pregnant, according to Scobie's source.
So instead of allowing poor Meghan to miss out on the fun, the royals took the party to her - with William and Kate "showing their support" by popping by for a catch up.
"William and Catherine visited because Meghan was unable to attend the service," the close source told Harper's Bazaar.
"They wanted to be supportive and see how she is doing. It was a lovely afternoon."
In the days and weeks leading up to the birth of the royal baby, speculation about exactly how and where Meghan would give birth to Baby Sussex went into overdrive, with all of Meghan's decisions around the birth of her baby scrutinised with a fine-tooth comb.
It was revealed that Meghan definitely would not be posing with a perfect blow-dry and a full face of makeup on the steps of the Lindo Wing, as Kate Middleton and her late mother-in-law Princess Diana once did, choosing to avoid a public photoshoot in front of the world's media.
Instead, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan wanted to keep the birth of their child private.
"The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family," the family said in a statement.
It also emerged that Meghan "felt sorry" for Kate during her rather public royal baby displays.
A friend of Meghan's told The Post that the Duchess felt bad for Kate having to look impeccable and face the world's media mere hours after giving birth.
Meghan also snubbed the Queen's own "highly regarded" all-male medical team, instead choosing her own female doctors to help deliver her baby.
The strong feminist, vegan and advocate of natural living has clearly ensured all of her values are reflected in the way she gives birth, and many have praised the modern Duchess for deciding to do things her own way.
There's nothing like a newborn royal baby to provide a much-needed mood boost. When little Archie was born on May 6, the royal family was overwhelmed with good wishes from around the world.
Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry were praised for how they handled the birth, with the couple choosing to stay at home, only revealing their son to the world a few days after he actually arrived.
During their official photocall, Meghan proudly showed off her postpartum body, bravely choosing a white trench dress from designer Grace Wales Bonner
Grace is also known as one of the UK's most celebrated young designers and is of mixed-heritage, much like Meghan, with her mum being British and her dad being Jamaican.
Meghan clearly wanted to send a strong message of diversity with her dress choice - and we love her for it.
The new mum appeared vulnerable and anxious during the media call, which is of course completely normal for a new parent, with her swollen postpartum body a sight millions of women around the world immediately empathised with.
For most new mothers, the idea of squeezing your sore and swollen postpartum body into a sheer satin, dresigner dress and strutting down a red carpet in front of the world's gawking media - to meet Beyonce no less! - would be utter hell.
But that's exactly what Duchess Meghan did exactly 10 weeks after she gave birth to little Archie, and stunned royal fans on the red carpet at the London premiere of The Lion King in July where she rubbed shoulders with pop singer Beyonce and husband Jay-Z, as well as entertainer Elton John.
Meghan's famously toned arms and tiny sample-size waist - the product of her regular yoga habit and predominantly vegan diet - have been replaced by a gorgeous fuller figure and a stomach still recovering from the nine months it took to grow a human.
You could almost hear the cheers from women around the world, overjoyed at seeing a new mother glow happily in her new body, making no apologies for her figure and getting on with her job as the world's critics watched with their mouths agape.
"So refreshing to see Meghan Markle embracing her post baby body and is in no rush to get her pre-baby body back. It's important to feel happy within yourself and your weight shouldn't determine your happiness," one woman wrote on social media.
While another said: "She's so beautiful! Post-partum weight is healthily lost within 6 months after giving birth. Meghan's size 4 clothes aren't going anywhere, except back on her body!
In fact, one royal fan summed it up perfectly: "Meghan looks like a woman who gave birth two months ago, and not only embraces her post pregnancy body, but also loves it too."
While from the outside, it might seem as though all this criticism was just water off a duck's back for Meghan, a video of Meghan talking to singer Pharrell Williams on the red carpet at The Lion King premiere gave a heartbreaking insight into how the Duchess feels about being the subject of such intense media scrutiny.
In the video shared by Twitter account named Royal Suitor, Pharrell is heard telling Meghan and Harry: "So happy for your union. Love is amazing. It's wonderful. Don't ever take that for granted but what it means in today's climate."
The singer then continued: "I just wanted to tell you it's so significant for so many of us. Seriously. We cheer you guys on."
Pharrell's wonderful words of support clearly touched the Duchess, who responded: "Thank you, they don't make it easy."
No, Meghan, it certainly can't be easy.
In July, the Duchesses sat front row at Wimbledon to watch Meghan's good friend Serena Williams play in the British tournament.
Both Meghan and Kate are big tennis fans, with Kate an official patron of Wimbledon, so it made sense for them to attend the event together.
And according People magazine, there was a simple touching gesture exchanged between the two royal women that proved they certainly aren't feuding.
While Kate and Meghan certainly weren't super close when they first met, a royal insider told the magazine that's partly due to the fact that there was so much expectation riding on them getting along.
"There was undue pressure where the whole world wanted them to be best friends," the source told People magazine.
But when the two royals attended Wimbledon this year, it seemed clearer than ever that their relationship has only blossomed.
"There is a sense of [Meghan and Kate's] relationship strengthening," the source told the publication.
In fact, according to the People, Kate was seen putting a consoling hand on Meghan's back when her close friend Serena Williams lost the match.
That's certainly not something that would happen between two feuding women, would it?
Harry and Meghan decided to jet off to the Spanish island Ibiza and also the south of France for their family summer holiday with baby Archie - and they took several private flights to get to their European destinations.
That choice caused many critics to label the royals as hypocrites, for preaching about environmentalism and conversation, while choosing a method of travel that is proven to be terrible for the environment.
Their decision made front page news in their native UK, but an impressive list of celebrity friends jumped to the defence of the Duke and Duchess, arguing the negative media reports were petty and unfounded.
''I am deeply distressed by today's distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's private stay at my home in Nice last week," the couple's friend Elton wrote on Twitter.
"Prince Harry's Mother, Diana Princess Of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana's untimely death."
Sir Elton wanted the family-of-three to have a private and well-earned holiday "inside the safety and tranquillity" of the home he shares with David Furnish, and "to maintain a high level of much-needed protection", the couple provided the Sussexes with a private jet flight.
"To support Prince Harry's commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint," he continued.
"I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan's commitment to charity and I'm calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis."
Other stars, including pop singer Pink and TV host Ellen Degeneres also threw their support behind the roylal couple.
"Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan to talk about their work on wildlife conservation," Ellen wrote on her social media accounts.
"They were the the most down-to-earth, compassionate people. Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you're trying to do is make the world better."
At the beginning of October, while they were still partaking in the #SussexRoyalTour of Africa, it was announced that Harry and Meghan would be suing the UK tabloid newspaper The Mail on Sunday, the weekend offshoot of the Daily Mail, alleging that it unlawfully published one of Meghan's private letters.
The tabloid published a letter handwritten by Meghan to her estranged father Thomas Markle, after he missed her royal wedding in 2018.
Prince Harry was clearly livid about this invasion of privacy and in a rare statement, revealed the heavy toll that story had taken on his family.
"Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," he wrote in a statement on the couple's official website.
The Duke of Sussex added that the legal process "has been many months in the making," and that to stay silent on the matter "would be contrary to everything we believe in."
"The positive coverage of the past week from these same publications exposes the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave. She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you've seen on this Africa tour.
"Though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been," he wrote.
In a heartfelt conclusion to the statement, Prince Harry referenced his late mother Princess Diana and how the media treated her up until her death in 1997.
"Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.
"We thank you, the public, for your continued support. It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it."
The couple is funding the legal action themselves and any proceeds from the case will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.
A new documentary from British television network ITV, Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, revealed the heartbreaking impact the constant attacks from the British tabloid press have had on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan revealed that her British friends warned her that the UK tabloids would "destroy her life".
"When I first met my now husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy," she said.
"But my British friends said to me 'I'm sure he's great, but you shouldn't do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life'.
"And I very naively thought — I'm American, we don't have that there — what are you talking about? That doesn't make any sense … I didn't get it.
"So it's been ... complicated."
Meghan said she had tried to put on a brave face, but it just all got too much.
"I've said for a long time to H - that's what I call him - it's not enough to just survive something, right? That's not the point of life. You've got to thrive, you've got to feel happy.
"I've really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip... I've tried, I've really tried."
Holding back tears during the raw interview, Meghan spoke about what it had been like to weather the intense criticism while pregnant with baby Archie and then later, as a new mother.
When asked if she was doing OK, Meghan revealed she had been struggling at lot.
"Look any woman especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging, and then when you have a newborn ... And especially as a woman, it's really, it's a lot.
"So, you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed. And also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I'm okay, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."
As clips of Meghan's heartbreaking confession that she "wasn't doing OK" surfaced on social media, a viral hashtag called #WeLoveYouMeghan started trending on Twitter, with fans rallying around the royals.
"If you're watching #HarryandMeghan right now and still have something negative to say, you don't have a heart," one fan wrote.
Another said: "I like them even more after watching... didn't think that was possible. Substance & style. An amazing couple. They're authentically themselves."
Following the release of the documentary, Harry and Meghan announced they will take some much-needed space from the spotlight by taking six weeks off from their royal duties.
The short break will start from the middle of November and run throughout December and the Christmas period, making this almost an extended end-of-year holiday for the royals.
According to respected royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah, Harry and Meghan will also leave the UK temporarily in order to spend some time back in Los Angeles, where Meghan's mum Doria resides.
They will spend Thanksgiving in the US but will return to England for Christmas.
"The duke and duchess have a full schedule of engagements and commitments until mid-November, after which they will be taking some much-needed family time," a royal source told The Times.
This break comes after a massive few months for Harry and Meghan, who recently wrapped up a huge tour of Africa with baby Archie.
For months, rumours of a feud between Harry and William have been brewing, and Harry addressed the claims head-on during the ITV documentary.
"Umm... part, part of this role and part of this job and part of this family being under the pressure that it's under, inevitably, stuff happens. But look: We're brothers, we'll always be brothers — and we're certainly on different paths at the moment," Harry revealed.
"But I'll certainly always be there for him as I know he'll always be there for me.
"We don't see each other as much as we used to because we're so busy.
"But I love him dearly and the majority of the stuff is created out of nothing. But as brothers, you have good days, you have bad days."
On November 14th, it was revealed that Harry, Meghan and baby Archie will spend their Christmas break in the United States, visiting Meghan's mum Doria Ragland on Los Angeles, instead of spending their holiday period at Sandringham with The Queen.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said in a statement: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month.
"Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, Their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess' mother Doria Ragland.
"This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen."
However, skipping Christmas with The Queen is not unusual for royal family members.
Duchess Catherine and Prince William have done the same previously, opting to spend the day with Kate's mother and father in Buckleberry in 2016.
2016 marked Princess Charlotte's first Christmas, so it's not hugely unusual to see Harry and Meghan choose to spend Archie's first Christmas with his mother's family.
Last Christmas, when Meghan was heavily pregnant with baby Archie, she stepped out in Sandringham for the second year in a row alongside Harry, Prince William and Duchess Catherine.
On January 9, in a surprise announcement just a day after making their first public appearance of 2020 at Canada House, Harry and Meghan announced they will be stepping back from their royal duties this year as they split their time between the UK and North America.
The couple shocked royal watchers by sharing a lengthy statement on their Instagram page, Sussex Royal, announcing their intentions to leave The Firm and even become "financially independent".
"After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," the pair wrote in the statement.
"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."
The pair explained that it is with their fans' encouragement that they plan to make the transition, and they will continue to honour their time between supporting the Queen and their various patronages.
"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."
The royal couple finished their post: "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. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support."
It seems Harry and Meghan's shocking move was made without the consent of The Queen and without consulting other senior members of the royal family.
Just moments after the duo announced their news, The Queen broke her silence with an official Palace statement on Twitter, and it doesn't seem like she was at all amused by the news.
In the statement released on behalf of Her Majesty, the move was described as "complicated" and that it's still at "an early stage."
"Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage," said the statement issued by Deputy Communications Secretary to The Queen, Hannah Howard.
"We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
What's more, royal correspondent for the BBC Jonny Dymond revealed that no senior members of the royal family were warned about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's decision.
A palace source told the BBC that senior members of the Royal family feel "hurt" by the announcement that Harry and Meghan are to withdraw from their current Royal roles.
The source confirmed that no members of the royal family were consulted.
The Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry, along with each of their private secretaries, arranged an unprecedented crisis meeting at Sandringham, to discuss exactly what Harry and Meghan's new roles will look like, moving forward.
While Meghan was never going to attend the meeting in person - she travelled back to Canada to be with baby Archie - she reportedly wanted to dial into the meeting via a conference call.
It was expected that by the end of the meeting, the Queen would come to a conclusion which would define Meghan and Harry's roles indefinitely.
According to royal reporter Tom Bradby, who produced the ITV documentary on Harry and Meghan's tour of Africa, and is close with the couple, even attending their wedding, if Harry and Meghan do not get their way in the royal split, it is possible they will go public with explicit, damaging details of their treatment by the royal family.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Bradby suggested the couple had been treated extremely poorly, and that their admissions in the documentary were just the tip of the iceberg - he described them as "qualified honesty".
"I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred, sit-down interview and I don't think it would be pretty," Bradby wrote.
"I suspect the royal family would carry British public opinion still — perhaps only just — but its international standing is a key part of its value to the British state. If that were to be tarnished, it could be very damaging indeed."
In the end, Meghan was reportedly excluded from the much-anticipated crisis talks between the senior members of the royal family and Prince Harry, dubbed the Sandringham Summit, due to concerns over dialling her in from Canada.
A Skype call was deemed too risky, in case anyone else was listening in.
"This was a highly confidential family discussion, not a conference call," a source told The Daily Mail
"While the Queen has no objection in principle to Skype or conference calls, for clarity's sake it is more likely that Harry will break off from the negotiations to call the Duchess," an aide revealed just before the meeting began.
Following the meeting, Buckingham Palace released a statement explaining The Queen was supportive of Harry and Meghan's "desire to create a new life as a young family".
"Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family," Her Majesty said in the statement.
She also addressed the pair's wish to become "financially independent", saying: "Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives."
The logistics around Harry and Meghan's living arrangements were also mentioned. The pair had made it clear they wished to split their time between the UK and North America.
The Queen supports this decision, saying: "It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK."
She ended the statement by adding that the matters were "complex" and that there was still work to be done.
"But I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days," she added.
In this time, it is expected that logistics will be firmed up around the fate of Frogmore Cottage, where Meghan and Harry currently reside, as well as their security costs and other expenses usually covered by royal grants.
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