The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have officially relinquished their roles as working members of the royal family.
Following the shock announcement earlier this year, the exit will see the couple lose their HRH titles, repay millions of pounds that were spent renovating their Berkshire home, and split their time between the UK and North America.
During their royal tenure, Meghan and Harry have been widely criticised, both as a couple and as individuals, from hosting a private christening for their son, Archie Harrison, to using private jets despite having staunch views on climate change.
But amid the criticism, there has also been much support for the couple, particularly among celebrities.
As Meghan and Harry officially start their new lives, The Independent has rounded up some of the famous faces who have publicly defended the couple during their time in the royal family.
When Meghan and Harry announced their decision to step away from royal life, Oprah Winfrey said she supported them “1,000 per cent”.
Winfrey told TMZ: “You know why I support them? I support them because I believe, when you have thought about this as long as they have — and even in the Queen’s statement [she] says, ‘This has been going on for months', these discussions have been going on for months — and when Harry said in that charity statement the other day that he had to make the decision to move forward in peace with his new family.”
The American TV host continued: “Who doesn’t feel what that takes to make that decision to give up everything you’ve known your whole life to say I’m going to choose this new life or what I believe to be the truest vision for myself?”
Dame Helen Mirren praised the Duchess of Sussex as a “fantastic addition to the royal family” in a recent interview.
Speaking to Variety, the actor explained that she “applauds” Meghan Markle’s decision to withdraw from royal life, even if it is a “loss”.
“Meghan Markle was a fantastic addition to the royal family – charming, did everything right, was gracious, was sweet-natured, and seemed to be ... Wow! What a lovely addition,” the 74-year-old said, adding that she “didn’t seem to be neurotic”.
The actor, who won an Oscar for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 film The Queen, said she supports Meghan and the Duke of Sussex’s choice to move abroad.
“I think it is a loss in a way, but at the same time I think their instincts are absolutely correct,” she said.
What a sad story. They hounded and bullied her until it was no longer tenable to stay, just like Diana. They’ll never learn until it hits them in the wallet. I hope she bankrupts them all.
Prince Harry and Meghan to ‘Step Back’ From Royal Family https://t.co/SsNiyDQv2N— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler)January 8, 2020
The First Wives Club actor described Meghan and Prince Harry’s announcement to step down from the royal family as a “sad story”, comparing the treatment of the duchess in the media to that of her mother-in-law, the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
“They hounded and bullied her until it was no longer tenable to stay, just like Diana,” Midler tweeted.
“They’ll never learn until it hits them in the wallet. I hope she bankrupts them all.”
Actor and activist Jameela Jamil wrote “FORK YEAH” in response to a tweet about Prince Harry’s statement comparing the treatment of his wife to that of his mother, Princess Diana.
Jamil also criticised the media for their treatment of Meghan in October 2019 when she was pregnant with Archie, saying on the red carpet at an LA awards ceremony: “Anyone who piles onto that woman, especially when she was pregnant, which is what we really saw, that was when it really started, which is a really dangerous time for someone to be that stressed.”
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. pic.twitter.com/WjVRDSMX0z— Elton John (@eltonofficial)August 19, 2019
Elton John has been a vocal supporter of Harry and Meghan from the start; the musical icon was close friends with Princess Diana and has previously said that is why he feels a duty of care to Harry.
In August 2019, the Tiny Dancer singer condemned media criticism faced by the couple after they took two private jet trips in one week.
“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 singer tweeted.
“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”, he continued.
John went on to explain that he and his partner David had provided the couple with their private jet to “maintain a high level of much-needed protection”.
Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation. They were 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. pic.twitter.com/226pRO1fj1— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow)August 19, 2019
When Meghan and Harry were criticised for their use of private jets, another celebrity who jumped in to defend them was American TV host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres.
“Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation,” she tweeted.
“They were 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.”
This breaks my heart. We live in such an entitled world these days. Everyone feels they have the right to scrutinize and judge. It’s disgusting. And if you’re one of those people who goes online to talk about women, whom you know nothing about, you need to check yourself. https://t.co/e2fZZvQ5lq— Lili Reinhart (@lilireinhart)October 18, 2019
Riverdale actor Lili Reinhart spoke out in support of the couple in regards to a trailer for the ITV documentary about their tour to South Africa.
In the clip, Meghan revealed she had struggled with some of the criticism aimed at her in recent months.
“This breaks my heart,” Reinhart wrote. “We live in such an entitled world these days. Everyone feels they have the right to scrutinise and judge. It’s disgusting.
“And if you’re one of those people who goes online to talk about women, whom you know nothing about, you need to check yourself.”
Campbell told the publication: “When I heard [about the legal action], I was like, ‘Bravo. Good for her.’ We all know what that’s about ... I’ve seen how they treat Raheem Sterling, how they speak about Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams.
“I don’t know how Meghan Markle deals with this and I’m really glad she’s taken action to defend herself.”
In January, the model also told the Press Association she supports the couple’s decision to step back from royal life.
”I support them whatever,” Campbell said,