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Harry and Meghan’s Exit Has Been Dramatized Before

It’s said that life imitates art — or, at least, that certain creative minds have some sort of uncanny psychic prowess.

And now that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have made a dramatic declaration of independence from the royal family, the British playwright Mike Bartlett can be added to the list of writers who seem to have a crystal ball on hand.

Bartlett wrote “King Charles III,” a near-future imagining — with Shakespearean-level intensity and iambic pentameter to match — of what happens when Queen Elizabeth II dies and her son Charles, Prince of Wales, ascends to the throne. The show premiered at London’s Almeida Theater in 2014, followed by a transfer to the West End later that year and a Broadway run in 2015.

In Bartlett’s world, the whole royal family is there: Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge; Prince Charles’s wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; even the ghost of the real Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales (because what’s more Shakespearean than that?).

Prince Harry, in this story, falls in love with a commoner and decides to leave behind his life as a senior member of the royal family. “I want to go with her into the world,” he tells his father, “Not trap her here inside these regal walls.”

Sound familiar?

The real Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, announced on Wednesday that they would “step back” from their official duties, in a momentous and unprecedented step for members of the royal family. The popular couple said they would split their time between Britain and North America, adding that they planned to “work to become financially independent.”

Rupert Goold, who directed “King Charles III” and is the artistic director of the Almeida Theater, noted the correlation on Wednesday, posting an excerpt from the script on Twitter.

The play had always been “unusual,” he said in an interview Thursday, because it was constantly recontextualized by current events — Scotland’s referendum for independence from Britain came during rehearsals, followed not long after by the early stages of Brexit.

But the scene he posted on Twitter, in which Harry explains to his family why he wants to leave, was just “eerie,” Goold said. It’s rare for a scene or a character’s decision, across any art form, to come to fruition this literally — here’s looking at you, “The Simpsons” writers’ room.

“Mike (Bartlett), who wrote the play, sent me a two-word email going, ‘See this?’ or something, with a link to the BBC,” he added. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God. That’s incredible.’”

But even before the “Megxit” announcement, Prince Harry of “King Charles III” wasn’t too far off. In the play, the prince is introduced to an art student named Jess through a mutual friend at a club. They fall in love beyond the palace walls; Harry is particularly smitten with the freedom Jess has in her flat — “TV, Doritos, curry.”

Meghan is also a commoner with a career in the arts: She was a popular television actor before their marriage, known for her role in “Suits” on USA, but gave up acting to be a full-time royal. The couple also was introduced by a mutual friend, who set them up on a blind date in July 2016.

As rumors of their relationship began to surge over the next few months, British tabloids latched onto story lines that Meghan wasn’t Prince Harry’s type, or that the American actress wasn’t British enough. The prince’s first confirmation of his relationship came in an unusual statement in November 2016, in which he condemned the “racial undertones” of stories about Meghan, who is biracial, and “the outright sexism and racism” of comments online.

Jess, in a script written years earlier, complained of similar treatment — though a strained relationship between the royal family and the British press certainly isn’t a new prediction.

Increasingly there’s stories in the news

About the Prince and I. They think I’m an

Unusual match for him, and so explore

My past and present, calling up my friends

Wednesday’s news took Goold and Bartlett by surprise, Goold said — because after Harry and Meghan’s wedding, that’s where they assumed the coincidences would end.

“We always used to say the one thing that would destroy the play is if Harry gets married, because the whole point was Harry wanting to escape,” Goold said. “I remember Mike and I saying, “O.K., well, that’s the end of the play.’”

Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s shift away from the royal family highlighted even more striking similarities.

In the scene tweeted by Goold, Jess and Harry deliver the news to their family as a joint decision, just as Meghan and Harry appeared to — though the play’s Prince Harry says he wants to “Cast off the Princely burden of my birth,” and there has been no indication from the real royals that they will renounce their titles.

CHARLES: You have the royal protection and respect.

Whatever we can do to help we will.

You will be welcome in our family.

JESS: But sir that’s not —

HARRY: It isn’t that we want.

And earlier in the story, Jess specifically addresses the financial aspect of the decision, criticizing the money Prince Harry receives from the crown — money that Meghan and the real prince seem to be turning away from.

HARRY: It’s not what I was born into —

JESS: Then change it. Look at all this — it’s absurd it still exists.

The world you were born into … It’s paid for by those people

in Wagamama, you take money from their hard work and you

Spend it on portraits, palaces, and in your case flights to Las

Vegas. It’s not your money to spend.

But perhaps no dialogue sums up the situation quite like Prince Harry’s first line in the play, when, after the Queen’s funeral — in a particularly overt piece of foreshadowing — he tells his family that he plans to make an abrupt exit.

I might head off. If that’s okay? I know there’s this thing,

but I’m tired.

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