Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have stepped back as senior members of the royal family, but that doesn't mean they've retired from public life.
The couple's new Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan—which was produced in part by their company Archewell Productions—sparked online debate following its Dec. 7 release, with some critics calling out Harry and Meghan for being involved in such a highly publicized project despite giving up their royal duties to pursue a quieter life in the United States.
Now, Harry and Meghan's global press secretary is setting the record straight, telling E! News in a statement that the "Duke and Duchess have never cited privacy as the reason for stepping back."
"This distorted narrative was intended to trap the couple into silence," the spokesperson continued. "In fact, their statement announcing their decision to step back mentions nothing of privacy and reiterates their desire to continue their roles and public duties. Any suggestion otherwise speaks to a key point of this series."
Of Harry and Meghan involvement in the docuseries, the spokesperson added, "They are choosing to share their story, on their terms, and yet the tabloid media has created an entirely untrue narrative that permeates press coverage and public opinion. The facts are right in front of them."
Harry and Meghan—who are parents to son Archie Harrison, 3, and daughter Lilibet "Lili" Diana, 18 months—announced plans to reduce their duties as senior royals in January 2020, explaining that they hoped to "become financially independent" while continuing to fully support then-monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
"It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment," the shared. "We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity."
The Queen later issued a statement giving the couple her blessings.
"My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family," she said at the time. "Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family."
In February 2021, the Buckingham Palace confirmed that Harry and Meghan were no longer performing duties as senior members of the royal household and that honorary military appointments and royal patronages would be "redistributed among working members of The Royal Family."
A statement from the palace added, "While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family."