IT is less than two years since that charismatic couple, blissfully in love and beaming with joy, announced their engagement to the world.

What a whoosh of fresh air Harry and Meghan would bring to the Royal family, we thought. What a force of nature they would be – a dynamic, 21st-century team taking the Monarchy into the future.

Now it’s all gone sour. In hindsight, the Sussexes’ announcement that they intend to step down as senior Royals was perhaps inevitable. There have been signs over recent months that they weren’t happy with their lot, and they appeared to be keeping a distance from the family. The biggest shock was that it came so swiftly, with no warning to the Queen.

Whatever you think about the Royals, you’ve got to spare a thought for a 93-year-old great-gran who has spent the past year lurching from one family crisis to the next. There must be times when she despairs of the lot of them.

I’ve always liked Harry and Meghan, with their rock star charisma, sense of fun and social conscience. They brought something new and exciting to the Windsors, and looked set to take British Royalty into a new era.

But lately they’ve been coming across as a spoilt, rather humourless pair who want everything on their own terms. The Press have given them privacy - way more than Diana ever had - and on their overseas Royal tours, cosseted in the lap of luxury, they got very positive media coverage. For every negative story about Meghan (much of it from her own family) there has been plenty of the toadyish cap-doffing that the national Press reserves for the Royals.

So to turn on the Press, as bitterly as they did, seems churlish and unfair. Prince Harry, once the funster of the young Royal set, took to scowling like a petulant schoolboy.

Like many people over the past week, I have lost patience with the Sussexes. I struggle to find sympathy for two grown adults who have been granted a life of immense privilege, yet complain when things don’t go entirely their way.

But as the dust starts to settle and the couple enter their ‘transition period’, their desire to be financially independent seems, in theory, something to be welcomed. There’s a lot of red tape to get through; I would hope they don’t expect tax-payers in the UK or Canada to fund their security and travel costs. And shouldn’t they pay back the £2.4m of public money that renovated the luxury Windsor home the Queen gifted them? Then there’s the issue of what portion of their time they’ll spend on Royal duties, their charities and patronages, and the conflict of interests that could come with their independence.

The idea of them as an international power couple, making millions as a global brand, is a bit tacky, but does it really matter? As a “spare”, not an “heir”, Prince Harry is allowed a freedom of choice that his brother will never have.

As long as they continue to support charities and humanitarian projects they claim are close to their hearts, I think the Sussexes’ decision to make their own money should be welcomed.

In time, it could set the wheels in motion for a more streamlined Royal family, which is long overdue. For far too long this clan has been awash with hangers-on - Viscount and Countess So-and-So, the Duke and Duchess of Wherever - who have gilded lives and a sense of entitlement, and no-one really knows exactly what it is they do.

It’s time they got a proper job.

* MANY A-list stars spend time filming in Bradford but most breeze in and out, keeping their distance from the hoi polloi.

Not Dame Helen Mirren, who's in town shooting new movie The Duke. The Oscar-winner was in the audience at Alhambra panto Snow White last week, and afterwards posed for selfies with the delighted cast, in her £5 flashing tiara. She also enjoyed a fish masala at Mumtaz and met revellers at an 80s-themed hen party in the city.

How lovely that such a huge star took the time to explore, and publicly praise, our much-maligned city. This Dame is a class act.

* "KITTENS are handed to children as playthings, tossed onto the streets and left for dead...maggots crawling from their bodies."

Sounds like something from a Victorian slum, but this is the reality in many urban areas today, say cat rescue organisations struggling to deal with a crippling stray kitten crisis. Yorkshire Cat Rescue is pleading for people not to let kittens out until they're neutered. The charity says the number of stray kittens is rising, and letting them out un-neutered, under six-months-old, sees them lost and vulnerable on busy roads. Kittens have been found crawling with maggots and blind due to disease.

A horrific problem that could be avoided, if these cat-owners weren't so lazy and thoughtless.