AND on darling Kate's birthday eve too.

Not 24 hours after Meghan Markle and her husband made the unexpected announcement they are to demote themselves from senior to minor royals - seemingly without running it past the boss of the firm first - Madame Tussauds removed the couple's waxworks from its royal family display.

If only the real life redundancy process the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have applied for could go so smoothly and easily.

Rather - strap in - we're in for several months of claim and counter claim, insider sources and speculation about the motives of Harry, formerly known as Prince.

Despite the collective clutched pearls, it's not as though this latest chapter in the royal soap opera wasn't well foreshadowed.

Harry did not marry some pliable ingenue. He married a grown woman, a self-made millionaire who had oodles of life experience, had forged her own successful career, who had very set ideas, interests and moral codes and who clearly saw the instant and vast fame of being part of the British Royal family as a means to promote her philanthropic and charitable ideals.

Not everyone sees this as a virtue. Confident, refreshing, ambitious Meghan. Pushy, bossy, bitchy Meghan.

From day one she has refused to capitulate to the expected mores of a member of the House of Windsor. From going bare-legged at official events to declining the title of Prince for her son; from continuing to behave like a typical young American woman with transatlantic baby showers to insisting on the title of Ms and not Miss for herself.

Every perceived difference - some say faux pas, some say reasonable modern behaviour - has been noted, recorded and scrutinised.

Harry and Meghan were never going to tow the line.

Some would say the foreshadowing began 83 years ago with the abdication of Edward VIII, whose love affair with an American divorcée is the reason Harry now finds himself in a predicament with his.

Thanks to the chain reaction sparked by Edward and Wallis Simpson, Harry is now wrangling with his position within the royal family and without.

This is part of the problem. There has been an utter reluctance to meet Meghan Markle on her own terms.

She is either compared to Wallis Simpson and found too similar, or compared to Kate Middleton and found to be too different.

While the Duchess of Cambridge has made herself blandly likeable and upstanding - an inoffensively perfect consort-in-waiting - Meghan would never have been able to do this.

Prince William's wife was plagued for being middle class and having an air hostess for a mother. But she is from a good family, received a good education and has blended in seamlessly to aristocratic life.

Meghan's perceived flaws are insurmountable. She cannot erase her previous marriage from her record. She cannot stop being American.

Instead of praising her moral consistency - such as during the rumours of her asking Prince Harry not to go hunting at Sandringham - she was scorned as a scheming nag trying to turn our Harry against us.

Prince Harry, goes the narrative, has been altered against his will by this conniving vixen. Much has been made of a what a rambunctious young fellow the Prince used to be. It really shows how deeply held the disdain for Meghan that we preferred Harry in his Las Vegas, photographer-punching, Nazi costume wearing days.

Would Britain really rather its sixth in line to the throne was gadding to parties in an SS uniform than spending some time in Canada over Christmas?

Most crucially, Ms Markle cannot make herself less black. While Britain balks at the notion it might be a bit racist, let's try and be honest enough to acknowledge the racist undertones to the criticism of Meghan.

Prince Harry, too, has been consistent and vocal. He has asked the press nicely to back off and he has threatened the press to back off. The press did not back off and now, he likely feels, they've got what they deserved.

It is highly doubtful this will wash well with the tabloids.

The Harry and Meghan romance has shown up the UK's racism, classism and the uniquely dysfunctional relationship it has with the royal family where the country feels it has ownership because we pay for their upkeep.

They get fame, fortune and outrageous privilege and we get to feel like we're in control. Now the couple has violated the sacred deal.

It's very difficult to emphasise with their position. "It’s not enough just to survive something, right?," Meghan said in her Africa interview last year. "That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive, you’ve got to feel happy."

How, it is nigh-on impossible to imagine, can you feel in survival mode with a doting husband, beautiful baby, unlimited privilege and absolute luxury.

Yet this is how Harry's wife feels and their decision to publish on Wednesday evening or be damned speaks to an interesting utter lack of trust in the Palace.

They want to earn their own living using their royal brand for commercial gain - freeing Meghan up to play herself in the Crown, perhaps - yet still live in Crown Estate property and take money from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Other royal couples before them have given it a try - the Countess of Wessex tried and failed to keep up her PR work with royal duties - so they have a template for what not to do.

Having a foot in each camp seems an attempt to have all the upsides and no downs. Perhaps it's designed to be a compromise - a compromise between themselves or a compromise between them and us - but it's a poor deal.

The royal family is rightly paring back to become a more modern institution in a world that does not have automatic deference to its mere existence.

After the initial shock of their announcement, there would be more understanding if the Sussexes went it alone. They should drop their titles, cut their royal income and be truly independent. Royal fans will love them regardless and anti-monarchists can at least have respect for their independence.

As it is, they look selfish. Not modern or daring, just making a slight shift from the palace to a gilded halfway house of hypocrisy.