In April 2020, the two announced the launch of a nonprofit organization called the Archewell Foundation, inspired by their now-21-month-old son Archie Harrison. In December, Meghan and Harry, who are currently expecting another baby, revealed their group was working with the World Central Kitchen charity group to build four Community Relief Centers, with the first to be erected in early 2021 on the Caribbean island of Dominica. The country, a member of the British Commonwealth of nations, was harshly hit by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, World Central Kitchen announced that construction on the center has been completed. It is located in a school constructed under Dominica's climate resiliency plan to be a safe shelter against future hurricanes.
The group said in a statement, "The kitchen equipment—including refrigerators and freezers that can work entirely off the electrical grid using solar power—is now installed and ready for the school's staff to cook for students and the community, and we will be launching a culinary training program later in the year. These trainings, based on Sink To Stove and our upcoming Chef Relief Training program, will equip chefs with the skills necessary to cook for the community and even feed large numbers of people in an emergency. From this Community Relief Center, we anticipate being able to prepare thousands of meals per day in the direct aftermath of any future storm."
In addition, the second center is set to be built in Puerto Rico, the group added.
In January 2020, Meghan and Harry made the bombshell announcement that they "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." They later reached an agreement with the monarch. Buckingham Palace said at the time that Meghan and Harry were "required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments." The palace also said, "With The Queen's blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations."
That April, days before announcing the launch of their Archewell Foundation, their royal exit officially took effect, with the aim of revisiting it after 12 months. However, on Feb. 19, weeks before the deadline, Buckingham Palace said that a decision was made "after conversations between The Duke of Sussex and Members of The Royal Family."
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family," the statement said. "Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service. The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family."
Meghan and Harry's rep later said in a statement. "As evidenced by their work over the past year, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role. We can all live a life of service. Service is universal."
On Monday, Feb. 22, two days after Buckingham Palace announced the formalization of Meghan and Harry's royal exit, the Genesis Women's Shelter & Support in Dallas, Texas revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a donation through the Archewell Foundation to help fix its facilities that were significantly damaged by the recent winter storms.
Meghan, Harry and Archie have been living in North America for more than a year. In their initial January 2020 announcement about stepping away from their royal duties, the duke and duchess said they would balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America.
Just before their royal exit was announced, Meghan, Harry and Archie stayed for several months in Canada, where the duchess had lived when she was an actress on Suits years ago. Later in 2020, the family moved to her home state of California, where they bought a mansion in the popular celebrity-favorite town of Montecito near Santa Barbara.
A week before Buckingham Palace's announcement formalizing the royal exit, CBS announced that Oprah Winfrey, another notable Montecito resident, will interview Meghan and Harry for a TV special set to air on the network on March 7. This will mark the first on-camera comments from Harry and Meghan since their royal exit and comes more than a year after it was announced that the duke had partnered with Oprah on a documentary on mental health for Apple TV+.
A source close to the couple told E! News this week that on the CBS special, the couple will be "speaking their truth" to Oprah, adding, "There is a lot of tension between them and the royal family. The interview is going to shine a light on what they have been through. Meghan and Harry are relieved they are away from it all."
It appears Oprah's interview with the couple will face some competition: London's Westminster Abbey's website recently announced that on March 7, the same day as the CBS special, the queen and other senior royals will appear in a BBC One program about the Commonwealth, which comes in place of an annual Commonwealth Day service at the royal church that they have traditionally attended. This year's event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.