Hidden cost of Harry and Meghan’s big move
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has left the building.
Having only returned to the UK earlier this week (after a six-week break in Canada), the royal flew out of London on Friday to return to Vancouver.
In total, she spent only three days back in her adopted homeland.
The news of her departure capped off a truly dramatic and historic few days, which saw Meghan and husband Harry, Duke of Sussex spectacularly announcing they were quitting as "senior" members of the royal family, blindsiding the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William. (Harry and Meghan are said to have defied Her Majesty after she asked her grandson to not go public with his independence plans until the fine print had been sorted out.)
However, as the dust settles in the wake of the bombshell Sussex revelation, the consequences of this bold bid to engineer a new life are becoming clear.
For one thing, they face paying an exceptionally high emotional price.
The same day that Harry and Meghan 'went nuclear' and told the world about their plans, their sister-in-law Kate, Duchess of Cambridge celebrated her 38th birthday.
As a number of members of the royal family made their way to Kensington Palace to mark the day, the Sussexes were absent.
Whether Harry and Meghan were invited or not, they now face being cut off - physically and personally - from his family.
The past year or so has seen the fractured relationship between Harry and William burst into public view, with the younger brother seemingly confirming the growing distance between them during a TV interview last year.
While the exact reason for the acrimony between the pair has never been publicly confirmed (we will have to wait for the tell-all biographies of the future for that), there have been a slew of reports suggesting the frostiness dates back to when Harry first fell for the Suits star.
There have been claims that William had cautioned his younger brother not to rush into marriage, which a besotted Harry is said to have taken umbrage at.
William proposed to Kate after nearly a decade of dating; Harry took the plunge less than 18-months after meeting Meghan, for much of which they were in a long-distance relationship. (Tatler has reported that Prince Charles was "fascinated" by Meghan after meeting her but had also allegedly told a friend, "I just hope he doesn't marry her.")
A source told the New York Post this week: "Things were already tense between the brothers when Harry met Meghan, but things became much, much worse after they got married. Harry and Meghan didn't spend any time with William and Kate, and the two wives don't get along at all - the distance and the differences between them grew into a vast chasm."
No matter where the fault lies when it comes to the Sussex-Cambridge divide, both brothers will surely keenly feel the loss of the only other person in the world who truly understands the trauma and difficulties they experienced growing up.
The loss of family ties also stands to have consequences for the next generation.
The Queen's grandchildren are famously close to one another, with Mike Tindall (who is married to Princess Anne's daughter Zara) revealing last year they even have a young royal WhatsApp group. That support and warmth extends to their own children with Prince George and Princess Charlotte regularly photographed gambolling about with the Tindall's daughters Mia and Lena.
So what of baby Archie? Not only is it possible he will be raised and educated in another country (Canada is being widely mooted as the Sussexes' new homebase) but he will be denied the opportunity to form similar bonds and closeness with his only cousins. I can't help but feel he faces being raised in lonely isolation (both geographically and emotionally) from his father's family.
Come to that, what will Archie's childhood look like?
In the UK, the royal family enjoys a tacit agreement with the press that they will not covertly photograph the Windsor kids. This means that, for example, Kate is able to regularly take her three for bike rides and walks around Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park (which surround Kensington Palace) without fear of long lenses lurking in the bushes.
However, the paparazzi's gloves will well and truly come off if Archie is living in Canada or the United States. It seems likely that the Sussex family and their little boy will face far more intrusion from rapacious photographers once they leave the UK shores.
For Harry, the personal toll he faces in all of this goes beyond palace gates.
Over the last year, various reports have surfaced claiming that Harry has reshaped his long standing friendship group.
Meghan is said to have "separated herself a bit" from Harry's mates' wives and girlfriends, society bible Tatler reported last year and that "Harry is now less in with his old Gloucestershire set than he used to be."
Childhood mate Tom Inskip - who was with the Duke for his now 2012 infamous naked Las Vegas jaunt - was invited to the Sussex wedding ceremony but left off the invitation list for the night time reception. (Oprah and the Clooneys, however, made the cut for the glamorous party.)
Months after their wedding, the Sussexes' flew to Amsterdam for the opening of the Dutch outpost of the private members club Soho House, choosing to attend the exclusive bash rather than the wedding of pals and royal wedding guests Sophie Carter and Robert Snuggs.
William and Kate, however, did roll up to the Carter-Snuggs big day.
"Harry began spending less and less time with his old, lifelong friends, he stopped being the laddish, relaxed character he had been, he became more private and withdrawn," the same source told the Post.
"All Harry's friends now seem to be Meghan's Hollywood friends, like the Clooneys."
With Meghan now back in Canada, Harry meanwhile is in London trying to hammer out some sort of plan with his grandmother, father and brother for most likely fraught negotiations about what their future will look like.
No matter they resolve, the whole family stands to lose.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years of experience working with a number of Australia's leading titles.