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Dispatches Human Race

Human Race

The duke and duchess visit Canada House in London. (Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty)

Breaking free from the royal purse strings?

PRINCE HARRY CREATED AN UPROAR in the United Kingdom on Jan. 7 with the announcement that he and his family would step back from royal duties. He and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, said they plan to become financially independent from the queen’s Sovereign Grant (if not from British taxpayers generally), focus on charity work, and split their time between the United Kingdom and North America. The couple’s main complaint appears to be with the British press and its obsession with the royals. Meghan, an American who had a successful acting career before marrying Harry in 2018, has admitted to struggling with the media pressure, especially since the birth of the couple’s son, Archie, in 2019. Harry is currently sixth in line for the throne.

Declined

THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY reported the largest-ever one-year decline in the rate of U.S. deaths from cancer. The rate has fallen by about 1.5 percent a year since 1991, but that accelerated to 2.5 percent between 2016 and 2017. Rebecca Siegel, the lead author of the report, said that’s the largest drop since 1930. Siegel said advances in lung cancer treatments drove most of the decline. Smoking has also been on the decline for decades.

Approved

WITH THE COMFORTABLE majority the party won in December’s national election, Conservatives in the British Parliament finally passed a Brexit bill on Jan. 9. Lawmakers approved the Withdrawal Agreement Bill by a vote of 330-231, clearing the way for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union on Jan. 31. The country still has to negotiate new trade agreements with the EU once that’s done. “Leaving the EU doesn’t mean that we will have got Brexit done,” said Paul Blomfield, a spokesman for the opposition Labour Party. “We’ll have completed the first step, departure, but the difficult stage is yet to come.”

Resigned

U.S. REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, R-Calif., vacated his congressional seat on Jan. 13. Hunter pleaded guilty in December to a federal charge of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds after denying wrongdoing for more than a year. In 2018, Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted on charges of using $250,000 in campaign funds for things like family vacations, school tuition, and five extramarital affairs. The seat will remain vacant until voters choose a new representative in November.