The four months since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding have been full of drama. As Harry’s American bride struggled to navigate her first round of public events as a duchess, she was forced to cope with constant attacks by her father, Thomas Markle Sr., and half-siblings Samantha and Thomas Jr., who trash-talked her in the media all summer long. Though the royal family has been supportive, Meghan knows they’re horrified by her family’s behavior. And in the British press, “Meghan has felt like her every move was criticized as she attempted to adapt to royal life,” an insider exclusively tells Life & Style. “She’s been in desperate need of some time off.” 

Now she’s getting it. On Oct. 16, Meghan, 37, and Harry, 34, will depart Britain for a 16-day official tour of Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga, and New Zealand. “Despite having back-to-back engagements, they’re looking forward to having some time away from Queen Elizabeth II’s watchful eye,” explains the insider. “They’re eager to get as far away as possible from Harry’s family — and you don’t get much farther than Australia! They can’t wait to escape from the palace and are literally counting down the days until their tour.” 

prince harry & meghan markle getty images
Getty Images

The trip is just what they need. Not only are they thrilled to get out of Britain, but “they’re getting to do what they love most — charity work,” says the insider. The trip is focused on youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts and the rehabilitation of servicemen and women through Harry’s beloved Invictus Games, which will take place in Sydney while they’re there. Though Meghan still feels pressure to follow protocol, adds the insider, “She finds Australians much more relaxed and casual than Brits and wants to let her hair down on the trip.” 

Harry’s eager to make that happen. “Meghan’s always been interested in different cultures and is keen to try out some Australian delicacies while they’re there,” notes the insider, like the local cheese-and-bacon pie recommended by the mayor of Dubbo, Australia. “Harry’s also making it his mission to ensure they’ll spend quality time together as a couple during the tour.” He even has a few surprises up his sleeve. “He’s planning romantic candlelit dinners under the stars, spa treatments to help her switch off and a snorkeling trip in Fiji,” says the insider. “Harry knows Meghan’s had a rough few months and wants to make the most of their time away from his family.” 

Join our Facebook group for the latest updates on Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and all things royal!

For more exclusive celebrity news, be sure to pick up the latest issue of Life & Style on newsstands now.