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This Is the One Thing Prince Harry Wants Back From the Royal Family

"If there were some way for that particular term be renegotiated, Harry would be happy to see that happen."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have found freedom and financial independence since they stepped away from their roles as senior royals, but the Duke of Sussex was forced to relinquish something that was near and dear to his heart in the process. While the couple was disappointed that Queen Elizabeth did not agree to their proposal to act as part-time royals in exchange for leaving Britain, it was the edict that Harry give up his military appointments as part of the formal exit agreement that was, for the prince, the deepest cut of all. Read on for the details, and for more on Harry and his brother, find out why William "Does Not Foresee" Reconciling With Harry, Says Royal Biographer.

"It was a crushing blow," said a Palace source. "Being stripped of his military appointments seemed punitive and the Duke was very emotional about it. There's a sense that if there were some way for that particular term be renegotiated, Harry would be happy to see that happen."

The terms of the Sussexes' formal exit agreement announced last March required Harry to give up his military titles: Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands' Small Ships and Diving. Military appointments are considered official royal duties, which Harry could not retain without being a working royal.

Royal expert and author Robert Lacey told Best Life there is a still a possibility that Harry could regain those titles in the future when the couple's formal exit agreement comes up for review a year after it was established, in March 2021. "As I understand it, in the spirit of the year's agreement, Harry's military appointments will be kept open for him during that period," Lacey said. "Whether or not he becomes head of the [Royal] Marines is the sort of thing that will be resolved by Her Majesty, the Queen."

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After the details of the agreement were made public earlier this year, the Sussexes were quick to publicly state that Harry would retain "the rank of Major," noting he would "continue his unwavering support to the military community in a non-official capacity."

But even that has become problematic for Harry. Sources told The Mail on Sunday that the prince had not be in touch with the Royal Marines since his last appearance at the Mountbatten Festival of Music in March. Major General Julian Thompson, who led 3 Commando Brigade during the 1982 Falklands War, issued a sharp rebuke to Harry, saying he needs to take the job as Captain General of the Royal Marines seriously and be as "accessible as his grandfather was." (In 2017, the prince succeeded the Duke of Edinburgh, who had held the post for 64 years.)

Thompson told the outlet: "I'm not trying to give him a lecture, but he has to take the job seriously and not just say, 'Well, I'm still the Captain General and I'm going to live in Los Angeles and never visit the U.K."

In response, Harry's lawyers issued a legal warning to The Mail on Sunday that the story is "false and defamatory."

There is, perhaps, another reason why Harry is particularly angered by the claims he has been out of touch with the Royal Marines. "There have been rumors that the honorary headship of the Marines was going to be given to William," Lacey told Best Life. "If it were to happen, that would be an absolute finalizing of the rift [between the brothers]."

Princes William and Harry arrive for William's wedding to Kate Middleton, at Westminster Abbey in London April 29, 2011
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Prince Harry's decade in the military—during which he served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, worked as an apache helicopter pilot, and rose to the rank of Captain—were a transformative experience for him. "Ten years in the army was the best escape that I've ever had, an escape from all sorts of intrusions," he told ABC News in 2016. "But I also felt as though I was really achieving something. I felt as though I was part of a team."

Harry has also said his time in the army was one of the few times he felt "normal." He was determined to serve despite his being a target for terrorists, resulting in his being pulled out of a war zone in 2008 after his secret deployment was revealed in the media. "I don't think there's any words to describe it," he said at the time. "It's much better being out here experiencing it, rather than hear all the stories of people coming back."

The prince told ABC News that he was "broken" when he was taken out of Afghanistan, forced to leave his team of soldiers behind. Harry channeled that respect and admiration he had for his fellow soldiers by creating the Invictus Games in recognition of those wounded warriors who survived traumatic injury. And for more on Diana's boys then and now, find out how Diana Would Have Healed William and Harry's Rift, Says Royal Biographer.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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