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As numerous journalists and historians have pointed out in recent years, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step down as senior members of the royal family is not entirely without precedent.

Back in 1936, King Edward VIII scandalized the masses when he announced his decision to marry a divorced American actress named Wallis Simpson.

Sound familiar?

Facing intense pressure from the public and his own family, Edward abdicated the throne, and he and Simpson lived the rest of their lives in foreign exile.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on a Bench

Those who knew the couple best say they were miserable for much of that time, and to his dying day, Edward harbored an intense bitterness toward those who forced him to give up his crown.

So while the two situations have inspired countless comparisons, they’re different in at least one crucial way:

Even their harshest critics wouldn’t describe Harry and Meghan — who currently reside in a $14 mansion in Montecito’s ultra-posh Riven Rock subdivision — as anything close to miserable.

Whispering to Meghan

In fact, the reverse is often true:

Harry and Meghan are frequently depicted in the British tabloid press as a pair of hedonists who eschewed their responsibilities in order to pursue lives of leisure.

But accurate accounts of the Sussexes’ lives and motivations are rarely found in the pages of the Mirror or the Daily Mail.

Cambridges and Sussexes In Church

If you really want an inside look at Harry and Meghan’s world, there are only a handful of sources you can truly rely on:

Harry and Meghan themselves, and the few journalists who know them well and who prioritize factual accuracy over sensationalism in their reporting.

Journalists like Omid Scobie.


And the latest comments from Scobie indicate that Harry and Meghan agonized over the decision to step away from their lives in London, and that the decision to leave their royal responsibilities behind was anything but easy.

"The hardest part for them was taking those initial steps away from their royal roles," the royal expert recently told People magazine.

"That was harder than they would ever imagined. They had had it all mapped out in their heads."

Markle and Prince Harry

Scobie added that moving to the US — essentially the nuclear option as far as Harry’s relationship with his family was concerned — was a last-ditch effort, a desperate grasp for the sort of freedom the couple never would have found in the UK.

"They knew that they had to change things, but what they had actually planned wasn’t actually what was best," he said.

"They tried to find a way to compromise," Scobie continued.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Get Serious

"But would that have enabled them to have that level of happiness and security that they have today? Probably not.

"Those ties to the institution [of the monarchy] would have still been strong and there would have constantly been issues about financial endeavors and the business decisions they made."

Now, bad faith interpretations of Scobie’s report might lead to claims that Harry and Meghan regret their decision, not unlike Harry’s great grand-uncle and his American wife.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in S. Africa

But Scobie makes it clear that that’s not the case.

"If we look at where they are now, they feel that it worked out in the best possible way in the end," he tells People.

"It’s only now that they’ve found a life that supports their interests and enables them to focus on the things that are important to them."

Meghan Markle: A Photograph

Perhaps King Edward and Wallis Simpson could have enjoyed true happiness in their post-royal lives if they’d found a more accepting community in a more accepting time.

And maybe if they’d been able to tell their story to the public directly — as Meghan did in her interview with Oprah Winfrey — they would have found a great deal more sympathy.

But the important thing now is that Harry and Meghan learned from Edward and Wallis’ example and took further lessons from the desperate lives of so many others who chafed under the constraints of palace life.