Perils of life outside royal fold for Harry and Megan

4 min

London (AFP)

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will attempt to go their own way in a bid for financial independence, with one foot in and one out of the British royal family.

But recent royals who have left the fold or tried to forge an independent life outside the monarchy have achieved mixed results.

The risk of allegations of potential conflicting interests, cashing in, failure or financial ruin seem tricky pitfalls to avoid.

Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt warned: "It has always ended in tears".

David McClure, who examined the family's wealth in his book "Royal Legacy", said: "I don't think it is going to work.

"The history of senior royals making money -- the two is a toxic mix. It hasn't worked well in the past. It is fraught with dangers."

Here are some of the recent royals who have found themselves half in, half out:

- Diana, princess of Wales -

In 1993 after separating from the heir to the throne Prince Charles, Harry and Prince William's mother Diana said she would reduce her official engagements.

She thought taking herself out of the game, as she put it, was a revenge masterstroke that would undercut the royal family. But the more she tried to rock the boat, the worse things got.

Following their 1996 divorce, she was stripped of the title "her royal highness" and resigned from 93 charities, keeping on just six.

Diana was outside the royal fold but still stuck in, living in Kensington Palace but with her ambitions to become an ambassador of sorts for Britain, or a "queen of hearts", thwarted.

Fearful of jeopardising future king William, and Harry, she could not cut herself loose completely.

Without royal security protection, she ended up in a paparazzi chase in Paris in 1997 and was killed in a car crash.

- Prince Edward -

Left with little to do, Queen Elizabeth II's fourth and youngest child tried to go it alone working in musical theatre and then television production in artsy ventures that flatlined.

He organised a charity royal version of the slapstick TV gameshow "It's a Knockout", which was widely seen as a humiliating disaster.

Eventually, the Earl of Wessex returned to the royal fold, keeping his head down and carrying out regular royal duties.

- Sophie, Countess of Wessex -

After marrying Edward in 1999, Sophie initially continued her public relations business.

But she was hit in a tabloid newspaper sting in 2001, making comments about the royals and senior politicians in a pitch for business. It was seen as cashing in on her royal status.

In 2002, the Wessexes quit their business interests to focus on royal duties.

Since then, Sophie has grown to become one of the most trusted and reliable royals, often seen accompanying Queen Elizabeth.

- Sarah, Duchess of York -

After divorcing the Queen's second son Prince Andrew in 1996, Sarah found herself out in the cold, despite remaining very close to her ex-husband.

She tried various ventures to keep her finances afloat, such as endorsements for Weight Watchers, writing children's books and appearing on US television.

Sarah has had debt problems and in 2010 was caught in a newspaper sting allegedly offering access to Andrew for £500,000.

Andrew suspended all public duties in November over his friendship with convicted US child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein -- who had reportedly helped bail out Sarah in the past.

- Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie -

Andrew and Sarah's daughters are the highest-ranking members of the royal family who do not carry out royal duties, reportedly much to Andrew's annoyance.

Beatrice, 31, works in New York as vice president of partnerships and strategy for artificial intelligence software developers Afiniti.

Eugenie, 29, is a director at the Hauser and Wirth art gallery in London.

Though Beatrice has taken tabloid flak for her frequent holidays, the princesses have not faced criticism for a conflict of interest.

If Harry and Meghan end up spinning out of royal duties altogether, his cousins are the obvious replacements to step up and represent the younger generation.

After Prince Charles and Prince William, with Andrew and Harry stepping away, they are the most senior adult royals in the line of succession to the throne.

- Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall -

The children of Queen Elizabeth's daughter Princess Anne -- the monarch's first grand-children -- never had titles or carried out royal duties, expressly so they could forge their own paths.

Phillips worked for Formula One teams and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Tindall won the 2006 Eventing World Championship and a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics.

As they have never been part of the active royal family representing the monarchy, their private activities have rarely drawn criticism.