Queen gives blessing for Prince Harry, Meghan to step down

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have rejected the Queen's wish to stay as full-time royals after a crunch Megxit summit - and are now set to seal their exit within days.

Her Majesty said she "would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family" but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are insistent on leaving.

The Queen announced she was "entirely supportive" of Prince Harry and Meghan's wish to become independent and spend more time in Canada.

"Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family," she said in a statement after two hours of crisis talks at her Sandringham estate.

"My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family."

The Queen said while discussions were still ongoing, with more complex matters to resolve, she had agreed to a "period of transition" in which the Sussexes would spend time in Canada and the UK.

"Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives," she said.

"It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.

"These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days."

 

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday ahead of the family meeting. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA via AP.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday ahead of the family meeting. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA via AP.

 

The statement came after Prince Harry and Prince William took the extraordinary step of releasing a joint statement denying claims of "bullying" ahead of the royal summit on Monday (London time).

The brothers released a statement via Buckingham Palace saying: "Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge."

"For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful."

A source had told The Times the falling out between the brothers began around the time of the Sussex's wedding in May 2018 when Prince Harry believed Prince William did not do enough to welcome Meghan into the family.

The newspaper also reported the couple felt constrained by their royal roles within the palace, where Prince William will always take precedence as the heir to the throne.

"If you are Meghan and Harry and you have had two years of constantly being told your place, constantly bullied as they would see it, constantly being told what you can't do, Meghan has been thinking 'This is just nuts, why would anyone put up with this?'" the source said.

The Sandringham Estate  Picture: John Fielding/Flickr
The Sandringham Estate Picture: John Fielding/Flickr

 

The Queen has reportedly felt hurt and disappointed over the Sussex’s decision. Picture: John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP, File.
The Queen has reportedly felt hurt and disappointed over the Sussex’s decision. Picture: John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP, File.

 

The Duchess of Sussex was not present at the summit today, and opted to dial in from Canada, where she returned last week to be with their son, Archie.

It was the first time the family had met face-to-face following the Sussex's bombshell announcement that they would "step back" as senior royals and work to achieve "financial independence".

The shocking statement was reportedly rushed out after The Sun newspaper reported the couple were considering moving to Canada and possibly even walking away from their HRH titles.

At the time, Buckingham Palace responded with a terse statement saying: "Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."

Senior royal staffers reportedly spent the weekend locked in talks over how the future for the couple could work.

The key issues up for negotiation included their royal titles, duties, security arrangements, any commercial deals and funding arrangements as well as where the couple would live and their immigration status.

Last week the couple returned to London and visited Canada House to thank them for their hospitality during a six-week break over Christmas when the couple stayed in Vancouver.

Three days later Meghan returned to Canada where she had left their eight-month-old son, Archie, with his nanny. The couple have also reportedly taken their two dogs to Canada.

Ahead of the summit The Times newspaper reported Prince Harry would be "heartbroken" at having to cut ties with his family, but Meghan had warned: "It's not working for me".

"She wants to leave," the friend said.

"Harry is under intense pressure to choose. It is sad. He loves the Queen. He loves this country.

"He loves all his military stuff and I think it will genuinely break his heart to leave.

"I don't think that's what he really wants. I think they want some halfway house."

News of the Sussex's decision has sent shockwaves through Britain, with a sense of sadness the rift between the two brothers has become so deep.

Friends and royal aides have spoken of the "hurt" and "disappointment" inside with family. ITV journalist Tom Bradby wrote in the Sunday Times the couple felt they had been "driven out" and said the damage began around the time of the wedding in May 2018 when "damaging" things were said.

He also claimed a bitter split could lead to a no-holds-barred interview with the couple that would be toxic for the royal family.

"I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred sit-down interview and I don't think it would be pretty," Bradby wrote in The Sunday Times.

He said Harry and Meghan found other royals "jealous and, at times, unfriendly," making it clear that did not include Queen Elizabeth II nor her husband, Prince Philip.


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