Inside the Megxit summit: Harry talked to the Queen alone to give her his side of the story before ‘calm’ talks, Charles wants his son to know ‘he doesn’t have unlimited resources’ and there will be ‘strict instructions on branding
- The Royals held an unprecedented summit at Sandringham House today to thrash out a Sussex solution
- Speaking afterwards in a statement, the Queen said that the royals had held ‘very constructive discussions’
- It has been agreed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will split their time between the UK and Canada
- Her Majesty spoke of her deep regret at Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit as senior Royals Wednesday
- There will be a ‘transition period’ where the couple will likely wind down the volume of official Royal duties
- Monarch has ordered courtiers to double down efforts to chart a way forward for Sussexes within days
- Princes Charles, William and Harry drove from the Norfolk estate in three separate cars following meeting
The Queen allowed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to quit as senior Royals following a private heart-to-heart with her grandson at today’s crisis summit, it was revealed tonight.
The Duke of Sussex is understood to have arrived at Her Majesty’s Sandringham estate more than two hours before he was due to sit down with the monarch and Princes Charles and William to chart a way through the turmoil engulfing the Family.
According to friends, Harry wanted to put his side of the story to the Queen, who came into the crunch talks deeply disappointed with him and Meghan for wanting to step back from their official duties.
In an historic statement released tonight, her sincere regret was made clear, saying she ‘would have preferred them to remain full-time working members’.
But after her one-to-one with Harry – followed by two hours of ‘calm’ discussions with him, Charles and William – Her Majesty agreed to a ‘transition period’ where the Duke and Duchess would wind down their Royal engagements as they spend more time in Canada.
After Princes Charles, William and Harry left the Norfolk estate in three separate cars this evening, the Daily Mail’s editor-at-large Richard Kay revealed Meghan was barred from dialling in on the meeting from Vancouver.
Palace officials said such an idea was rejected because no one knew for sure who else might have been listening in.
An insider said: ‘This was a highly confidential family discussion, not a conference call.’
The Queen has said that hammering out a viable blueprint for Harry and Meghan’s financially independent future was proving ‘complex’ and indicated more details need to be ironed out in the coming days.
And sources revealed that Prince Charles also views the matter far from concluded as he knows Harry will rely on his Duchy of Cornwall to meet family bills.
He has already lavished a small fortune on his younger son, from his wedding to the fitting out Frogmore cottage – the Windsor house he is now largely going to vacate when he uproots to North America.
A friend says: ‘He doesn’t have unlimited resources. Harry needs to know that.’
The Queen has ordered staff to find a solution ‘within days’ to the remaining sticking points, including the couple’s future funding, which is expected to impose rigid rules on their commercial activities.
One figure said: ‘There will be strict instructions on branding, for example. No one wants to see the Sussexes’ name on a tub of margarine.’
This was a deliberate nod to what happened in the aftermath of Diana’s death when her memorial fund began endorsing cash-raising schemes that appalled the public.
Today’s unprecedented Royal showdown culminated with a 5pm statement from the Palace, in which the Queen gave Harry and Meghan the green light to press ahead with plans to become ‘financially independent’.
The monarch said: ‘Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.
‘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’s statement in full this evening after a day of showdown talks to decide the futures of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry (pictured leaving today), Prince William and Prince Charles have left Sandringham tonight in separate cars after more than two hours of crunch talks with the Queen
The Duke of Sussex faced the Queen, his brother and his father (pictured leaving tonight) for the first time since quitting as a senior royal with Meghan ‘dialling in’ to support her husband from Canada
Prince William pictured leaving Sandringham after today’s crunch talks with Harry, Prince Charles and the Queen
Earlier today a Range Rover believed to be carrying Prince Harry entered Sandringham via an back entrance today as the royal summit over his and Meghan’s future began this afternoon
The Queen (pictured attending church at Sandringham on Sunday), made clear her deep disappointment at Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit in a statement released tonight
What does the Queen’s statement reveal?
Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.
It was unlikely that Her Majesty – whose recent public outings were designed to show Royal life was continuing as normal – would describe the meeting as anything other than ‘constructive’ as she looks to steady the ship and chart a way out of the crisis.
My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.
A deliberate attempt to display a unified front amid speculation of anger from within the ranks, particularly from Prince William who was ‘incandescent’ and Harry’s blindsiding of him in his decision to quit.
Her Majesty’s reference to ‘Harry and Meghan’, rather than ‘the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’, as is protocol for official Palace statements, could be an indicator the couple are poised to be stripped of the HRH titles.
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 is deeply disappointed with Harry and Meghan shirking their Royal duties.
Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.
This seems to give Harry and Meghan licence to strike commercial deals, as they are understood to want to pursue.
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.
A grey area where the couple will begin to gradually wind down their duties and begin to forge a new life abroad.
Note that during the, when referencing the transition phase, the couple are referred to as ‘the Sussexes’, indicating they will keep their titles during this window.
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.
This is an unprecedented crisis for the Family which is far from over. The Queen is desperate for the storm to pass and has asked her courtiers to double down on efforts to reach a solution.
‘Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.
‘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.’
The Queen, who is desperate to chart a way out of the crisis raging through the Family ranks, has ordered courtiers to double down efforts to develops blueprint for the Sussexes future, to be completed within days.
The head of state broke with protocol to refer to the couple by their first names rather than the ‘Duke and Duchesss of Sussex’.
Some experts have decoded this to mean Harry and Meghan could be stripped of their titles, while others have played it down as the grandmother, 93, simply striking a soft tone.
Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter said the move was likely to be telling, tweeting : ‘I do think it was very striking, particularly in a statement from the Queen. Are they having to give up their titles? This would be an indication they are…’
And reacting to the statement, Queen Elizabeth biographer and royal historian Robert Lacey said the language was an immensely personal intervention uncharacteristic of typical Palace communiqués.
He told BBC Radio 4: ‘It is remarkably hands-on. I mean it may have been processed through officials but this is the Queen, speaking to her people and speaking about her family, and I think coming right through it is the concern she feels.’
The Queen’s statement also acknowledged Harry and Meghan’s ambition to become financially independent, which appears to give them licence to strike commercial deals as part of their Sussex brand, which experts predict could be worth £400million.
Most of their funding currently comes from Prince Charles’s Sovereign Grant – taxpayer money – which the statement seems to suggest will cease.
The announcement also confirmed speculation of the couple’s intention to relocate to Canada, where they spent a six-week Christmas break on Vancouver Island – where Meghan is currently believed to be caring for baby Archie.
However, while Her Majesty gave ground to the Duke and Duchess, her sincere regret at their breakaway decision was explicit.
In the fallout of the Sussexes’ bombshell announcement they were quitting last Wednesday, Palace insiders have spoken of the Queen’s bitter disappointment, while William was said to be ‘incandescent’.
But despite her regret, an expert interpreted Her Majesty’s 5pm statement as a ‘warm’ olive branch to Harry and Meghan which took into account the couple’s ‘vulnerabilities’.
Royal author Penny Junor said: ‘I think it will take the pressure off them. I think they’re in a very vulnerable state at the moment.
‘I think they’re unhappy, they feel isolated and unloved, unappreciated and they needed careful handling.
‘My reading from that statement is that the family has been sensitive to their vulnerability.’
However, Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan, who has been highly critical, of the Sussexes, tweeted: ‘Harry/Meghan have successfully bullied the Queen into letting them have their cake & eat it.’
Earlier today Harry drove into Sandringham via its rear entrance in a blacked-out Range Rover Evoque at 11.20am – just as he and his older brother released their first joint statement since the abdication crisis blasting claims William has been bullying the Sussexes.
William arrived from nearby Anmer Hall at 1.45pm – 15 minutes before the 2pm meeting started – suggesting he chose to miss lunch with his brother and the Queen, who has been there since Christmas, as well as Charles, who arrived by helicopter yesterday.
The Duke of Cambridge was pictured driving out of the back entrance in his Land Rover at around 4.20pm, suggesting the summit lasted just around two hours.
The Prince of Wales left in his silver Audi A6, believed to be heading to nearby RAF Marham to be whisked away by helicopter.
Ahead of the Queen’s historic Royal statement:
- Harry decided to pull the plug on his royal role ‘without a thought’ for his older brother and his family with William heartbroken about the broken bond with his only sibling, according to insiders;
- But in show of unity the brothers issued statement denying claims in the The Times that William had ‘bullied’ the Sussexes;
- Charles has been giving millions more than thought to the couple to support them since they married in 2018;
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to comment on the Royal crisis
- Prince Philip has been supporting the Queen but stayed away from meeting this afternoon to spend time in the grounds of Sandringham;
- Royals will try to get a deal for Harry this week – but will warn him that his exit will take months to plan;
- Although the Sussexes will be settling in Canada, their ultimate goal is to have a home and business in LA – but only after Donald Trump is no longer President, sources have said.
- Harry’s close friend, broadcaster Tom Bradby, warned that the couple could do an explosive ‘tell all’ interview if they didn’t get their way and it wouldn’t ‘be pretty’. Their friend Oprah rumoured to be lined up.
Her Majesty has been supported by Prince Philip throughout the abdication crisis and her husband of 72 years has acted as her sounding board for finding a solution.
The Duke of Edinburgh ducked out of the palace before the mega-summit started, leaving his wife to broker the deal, but is said to be furious with his grandson and his Californian-born wife.
The Times claimed today that Meghan told Harry she must step away from the royal family just 20 months after marrying into it, partly blaming his older brother’s ‘bullying attitude’ and told her husband over Christmas: ‘It’s not working for me’.
But hitting back Harry and William said today it was a ‘false story’, adding: ‘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’.
The purpose of today’s summit, news of which broke on Friday night, was to plot a ‘direction of travel’ for the Prince and ex-actress following their bombshell announcement last Wednesday to retire from official duties.
Heading into talks this afternoon, Her Majesty was said to want guarantees that the proposed Sussex business empire does not damage the Family.
Prince William is seen driving his Land Rover through the back gate of Sandringham to return to his Amer House after the Royal summit today
Charles drives his silver Audi A6, believed to be heading to RAF Marham where a helicopter was waiting for him
Prince Harry will today be warned there are formidable obstacles to overcome before he can stand down as a senior royal (Prince pictured with Meghan Markle at Canada House in London on Tuesday, the last time they were pictured in public)
Kate looked serious as she left Kensington Palace this morning as her husband comes face to face with his want-away brother today. The Duchess was far more casually dressed as she left on the school run this afternoon
The Queen has dropped Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal titles from a statement about the couple’s future in The Firm in a move one commentator said was ‘very striking’.
Her Majesty, 93, released a statement following the royal summit at Sandringham House today and, in a break from tradition, referred to Prince Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, by their first names rather than their titles as ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’
Some fans said it indicated the couple could be stripped of their royal positions, in a move that would send shockwaves through the royal family.
Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter said the move was likely to be telling, posting on Twitter: ‘I do think it was very striking, particularly in a statement from the Queen.’
‘Are they having to give up their titles? This would be an indication they are…’
One wrote: ‘Is there anything in that The Queen refers to Harry and Meghan without any titles? Hope so, because they don’t deserve them.’
However others disagreed, saying: ‘It’s striking, but I think she wanted to highlight they are a family and she is supporting her grandson and his family.
After the statement was released at around 5pm this evening, Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan, who has been highly critical, of the Sussexes, tweeted: ‘Harry/Meghan have successfully bullied the Queen into letting them have their cake & eat it.’
William and Charles were expected to reject the couple’s demands for taxpayer-funded police bodyguards while in the UK and are concerned about the environmental impact of criss-crossing the Atlantic, but the statement suggests they appear to have lost this particular battle.
Charles is also said to be ‘hurt’ by Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit because he has secretly given them millions to fund their lavish lifestyle and furnish their Windsor home in a show of ‘love’ for the couple since they married 20 months ago, according to the Evening Standard.
Royal aides believe the meeting started at 2pm so Meghan could ‘dial in’ at around 6am after fleeing back to Vancouver Island on a BA flight hours after the couple quit last Wednesday – but the Duchess of Cambridge will not be supporting her husband in Norfolk today and stayed at Kensington Palace to look after their three children.
A grim-faced Prince Philip was seen at Sandringham this morning but will leave it to his wife, Prince Charles and Prince William to broker an exit deal with the Sussexes.
The Queen has been leaning heavily on her husband for support – and Philip, who has lived in a cottage of the Sandringham estate since retiring from public life in 2017, has been staying in the main house with the Queen since the crisis broke.
Philip was reportedly ‘spitting blood’ with anger when he found out last Wednesday and yelled at his aides: ‘What the hell are they playing at?’
Aides from each of the Royal households were involved in today’s discussions.
Each of the top four Royals’ principal private secretaries accompanied their respective member – Sir Edward Young (Queen), Clive Alderton (Charles), Simon Case (William) and the recently appointed Fiona Mcilwham (Harry).
Sir Edward’s position is said to be under scrutiny following the two main crises which have bruised the Family in recent months – the first being the Prince Andrew’s friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Prince Edward and Princess Anne have reportedly called for his sacking.
Looming over today’s talks were aides’ fears that Harry and Meghan to give a tell-all interview to their friend Oprah Winfrey and ‘sound off’ about the royal family’s ‘racism and sexism’ if they do not get their way.
The couple are said to see their long-term future in the US – but not while President Donald Trump is President – with friends claiming while the couple plan to live in Canada at first their ultimate aim is to have a home and business in Los Angeles.
Senior royals are gravely disappointed by Harry’s decision to pull the plug on his position ‘without a thought’ for William and his family, insiders revealed.
The 35-year-old is said to be so caught up in his own misery he hasn’t considered the fall-out for the brother he was once inseparable from – and his little niece and nephews.
A grim-faced Prince Philip leaves Sandringham today with a female companion driving where his wife the Queen, who has been using him as a sounding board, will try to avert crisis and keep Prince Harry in the royal family
Since making their bombshell announcement on Wednesday to quit, Harry and Meghan have grabbed headlines all across the world, with reporters camped outside Sandringham tonight
Charles is ‘hurt’ after giving millions of his OWN cash to Meghan and Harry
Prince Charles has reportedly been paying Harry and Meghan more than William and Kate since they married to support them in married life
Prince Charles is ‘hurt’ by Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit as senior royals because he has secretly given them millions to fund their lavish lifestyle and furnish their Windsor home in a show of ‘love’ for the couple since they married 20 months ago, it was claimed today.
Harry’s father has reportedly tapped into private income from his £1.2billion Duchy of Cornwall estate to support the Sussexes because he was desperate to keep them happy in the UK and particularly to support Meghan after she moved to Britain from Toronto.
A source told the Evening Standard: ‘There is a great deal of hurt given that the Prince of Wales has gone out of his way to help his son who he loves dearly and embrace his daughter-in-law into the family’.
Harry and Meghan already claimed £2.4million of taxpayers’ money to carry out building works on the grace-and favour property given to them as a gift by the Queen.
The insider said: ‘The figures quoted on the Sussex website are wrong. It does not take into account security for one thing and much of the travel. Also talk of what the Prince of Wales only pays towards both his sons from the profits of the Duchy is simply not true. He has paid out considerable sums from his private investments and money too. These are not small sums. It should not be a surprise that he is upset by all this given the truth about how he has supported his son.’
Another insider added: ‘On top of that he paid out a small fortune for their wedding’.
‘I’m sad about that. All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the same team.’
When it was put to Harry last week that he needed to discuss his plans with William at least before ‘pressing the nuclear button’, he made clear he hadn’t any intention of doing so.
Neither had it occurred to him that there would also be ramifications for the young Cambridge children, George, six, Charlotte, four, and Louis, just one. The siblings have only seen their cousin Archie, eight months, once or twice since he was born.
‘He is so caught up with his own problems and just hadn’t thought through how it would affect everyone else,’ said a source with intimate knowledge of the week’s events.
Friends say the rift between the two is so deep now that it is unlikely to be repaired for the foreseeable future.
At today’s summit staff have managed to achieve the unthinkable in preparing a series of proposals to put on the table, Harry will also be warned that the crisis is not over yet.
There have already been consultations between the UK and Canadian governments, but working out the detail is likely to take weeks or months rather than days.
She and Harry had left their son, Archie, eight months, at their rented home on Vancouver Island when they returned to Britain.
Harry is set to follow her later this week with no clue of when he will be returning. Following a series of meetings and consultations, the family will be given a range of possibilities to review which take into account the demands outlined by the Sussexes last week.
ITV presenter and friend of the Sussexes Tom Bradby, who is believed by the royal household to be acting as Harry and Meghan’s ‘mouthpiece’, said last night that the Royal Family had to achieve a ‘sensible’ agreement and give ‘them the freedom they want, the role that they want in the Royal Family, [and] make sure British taxpayers don’t feel cheated.’
But aides have warned that making such a seismic change to their working life and role in the monarchy will take ‘complex and thoughtful discussions’.
‘That’s certainly the aim. But there will need to be an understanding that any decision will take time to be implemented and is complicated by issues including the HMRC, security and the like.’
Palace fears grow over Harry and Meghan ‘no holds barred’ interview
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could give a tell-all interview to their friend Oprah Winfrey if they do not get their way in showdown talks with the royal family at Sandringham, palace aides fear.
Meghan’s US PR team is already close to Oprah, as well as several American TV networks who could host a potential no-holds barred interview, where she and Harry could ‘sound off’ about the royal family’s ‘racism and sexism’.
ITV’s Tom Bradby has already warned that a ‘no-holds barred’ interview could be in the offing.
As well as Oprah, Meghan’s team is believed to have contacted the television networks ABC, NBC and CBS.
Meghan’s mother Doria has also been seen leaving Oprah’s home.
Now, a royal source has said: ‘Harry and Meghan’s people have been reaching out to all the big US networks to explore the possibilities of a sit-down warts-and-all interview.
Charles arrived in Norfolk after a 24-hour visit to Oman – a key British ally.
‘The prince is already the hardest working royal in the business. And the business of the Royal Family is having to go on while all this is happening,’ said a source.
‘He has a strong sense of duty and service. He is going into the meeting not just as a ‘chief executive’ but as a concerned father as well.’
There have even been jokes that a stream of papal-style ‘white smoke’ may be seen coming from the Sandringham House chimney.
What palace aides have done to get to the point of having this range of options to discuss is delivering on the Queen’s request.
‘The family can say, ‘look we haven’t dragged our feet, we’ve come up with something for you to decide’. But it’s then up to them [the Sussexes].’
Friends have also told the Mail that although the pair plan to settle in Canada at first – although probably not on Vancouver Island – their ultimate aim is to have a home and business residence in the US, Meghan’s home country.
But staunch Democrat Meghan, who has openly been critical of Mr Trump, has said she won’t move back while he is in charge. ‘It’s by no means an immediate thing but there is a long-term plan to end up back in the US with a second home in Canada, where they will also spend a great deal of time,’ the source said.
It was reported on Saturday that the Duke of Cambridge is grief-stricken at the broken bond with Harry. ‘I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities,’ he told a friend according to the Sunday Times.
For a moment it was just the two of them: Prince Harry arrived two hours early, and the monarch and grandson were talking quietly about the future. Read RICHARD KAY’s gripping inside story of the Megxit summit…
By Richard Kay for the Daily Mail
…As all around, the normal hustle and bustle of the Norfolk house was stilled while staff busied themselves far from where this extraordinary Royal Family drama was set to play out: the Queen’s private apartments on the first floor, the dining room and, nearby, the Long Library.
Prince Harry had swept through the gates in the back seat of a Range Rover with darkened rear windows.
He arrived in good time for lunch. More importantly, his arrival allowed him time to seek out his grandmother ahead of the summit with his father and brother.
Prince Charles was already there. He had flown in from Oman by private jet on Sunday night after paying his respects on the death of the Arab state’s leader, Sultan Qaboos. A car had driven him the 15 miles from RAF Marham.
William was last to arrive, picked up from his home at nearby Anmer in a black Land Rover Defender and entering the estate through a cul-de-sac next to the primary school at West Newton. It was 1.45pm. The meeting had been set for 2pm.
Scene of the showdown: Members of the family gathered at the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk for a historic royal summit
Earlier, another part of this gripping tableau had taken place: Prince Philip – the patriarchal figure who for so long had dominated all family discussions – had quietly left the house, driven away in his Land Rover Freelander by Countess Mountbatten, the former Lady Penny Romsey who helps care for him.
Just how strategic this departure was, was not immediately clear. But the fact he left more than an hour and a half before the Duke of Sussex arrived was seen as significant. At 98, he no longer lays down the law as he once did and some courtiers wonder if this was his way of saying ‘this is not my fight’.
It may also be that by making himself absent he could not be drawn into a situation where the mantra which governed his attitude to royal life – ‘you are either in the family or out’ – was being tested by Harry and Meghan’s wish to be part-time royals.
Twenty-seven years ago, it was the measured and cool Philip who handled the catastrophe over Charles and Diana’s marriage by acting as an honest broker between the warring couple.
How the Queen must have wished for the composure of her unflinching husband as this most difficult of situations unspooled.
According to informed sources, the mood at the meeting was calm and there are no reports of shouting or blistering exchanges.
The discussions were led by the Prince of Wales, who perhaps has more invested in the outcome than anyone. It will be his money that funds a future independent life for Harry and Meghan and it is their co-operation that he requires if he is to see through his dream of a slimmed-down monarchy fit for the 21st century.
Finding an accommodation was the watchword. William, who has so often been in disagreement with his father in recent times, is believed to have supported this approach. But it was the Queen to whom it has fallen to resolve this most heart-breaking family crisis. And the statement that came in her name was laced with despair.
Not since 1997 in the aftermath of the death of Diana has the Queen issued such a personal bulletin.
Then, she addressed a nation in shock and by including the magical phrase that she was speaking ‘as a grandmother’ defused the resentment that had built up over the Royal Family’s failure to speedily acknowledge the loss of the princess.
Now here she was 22 years later grappling with the conflict over Diana’s son and his demand to stand down as a senior royal and move overseas with his wife and young son Archie.
Can there ever have been a more poignant communique?
Her message was clear that she will not stand in the couple’s way but it is with a heavy heart that she has agreed. In one sentence alone, her sadness about this incendiary situation shone through.
‘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.’
It was the Queen to whom it has fallen to resolve this most heart-breaking family crisis. And the statement that came in her name was laced with despair
Unsaid was the anguish felt around the conference table at Sandringham yesterday afternoon that little more than 18 months after a wedding that delighted the watching world, no one knows what will happen to Harry and Meghan in their semi-detached status from the House of Windsor.
What does seem certain is that the tricky issue of their titles, while not referred to, has been papered over. The language the Queen uses is of conciliation and it is carefully chosen.
In the first instance, she refers to ‘my grandson’. The next reference is to ‘Harry and Meghan’. Only once does she mention the pair by their official name when she talks about the ‘Sussexes’ spending time in Canada and the UK. This last must be an oblique nod to their titles as duke and duchess and the HRH style they also enjoy.
From this it seems there will be none of the punishment meted out to both Diana and the Duchess of York, who both lost their royal highness titles on divorce.
Repeating the mistakes of the past was not on the agenda.
Above all, the palace view was that nothing should be put in writing which would inflame an already tense position.
It was for that reason that it is thought there was no open telephone line to Meghan in Canada. According to palace officials, such an idea was rejected because no one knew for sure who else might have been listening in. ‘This was a highly confidential family discussion, not a conference call,’ says one insider.
Harry is thought to have reached Sandringham early specifically to allow him some time alone with his grandmother.
Unlike William, who had been at the Royal Family Christmas, Harry had been 5,000 miles away on Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada. According to friends, he wanted to put his side of the story to the Queen.
He was also able to see his father, who has been perplexed by his decisions that could yet have a profound effect on the future direction of the family.
For Charles, the matter is far from concluded. He knows Harry will rely on his Duchy of Cornwall to meet family bills. He has already lavished a small fortune on his younger son, from his wedding to the fitting out of Frogmore cottage – the Windsor house he is now largely going to vacate.
After 90 brisk minutes, the Long Library (pictured) meeting broke up and the four royals went in different directions
Says a friend: ‘He doesn’t have unlimited resources. Harry needs to know that.’
This is why more talks are planned, though these are likely to involve officials rather than the family group.
It is hoped that the couple’s future funding will act as a brake on their money-making plans. ‘There will be strict instructions on branding, for example,’ says one figure. ‘No one wants to see the Sussex name on a tub of margarine.’ This was a deliberate nod to what happened in the aftermath of Diana’s death when her memorial fund began endorsing cash-raising schemes that appalled the public.
And just as it was then, it is public attitudes which are likely to shape Harry and Meghan’s financial future. Courtiers intend to make it clear that the country will not wear the couple exploiting their royal status for money.
After 90 brisk minutes, the Long Library meeting broke up and the four royals went in different directions.
The Queen returned to her upstairs suite. At 3.45pm, Prince Charles left behind the wheel of a silver Audi heading for Marham where a helicopter was waiting to fly him back to Birkhall, his home on the Balmoral estate.
Harry left moments later.
The skies were darkening as William, the last to leave, set off for Anmer Hall just after 4pm.
The question now is what happens next.
‘A protective grandmother looking after a vulnerable grandchild’: Royal expert dissects Queen’s ‘warm’ statement about Harry and Meghan
By Danyal Hussain for MailOnline
Royal biographer and historian Robert Lacey said the language was an immensely personal intervention uncharacteristic of typical Palace communiqués
The Queen’s dramatic statement on the future of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was from the perspective of a grandmother looking after a vulnerable grandchild, according to royal author Penny Junor.
In her statement, Her Majesty makes clear her disappointment at the couple’s decision to quit their Royal duties but said the royal family ‘understand and respect’ their wishes.
The Queen’s words came after a summit at Sandringham between herself, Princes Charles, Prince William and Harry, with Meghan believed to have dialled in from Canada.
Reacting to the statement, Penny Junor said the Queen was ‘carefully handling a vulnerable Duke and Duchess of Sussex’.
She also described the monarch’s words on the future of Harry and Meghan as ‘friendly and warm’.
The couple, who do not want to be publicly funded, will have a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK, but final decisions will also be reached in the coming days.
‘I think it’s a positive statement. It sounds friendly and warm, the way the Queen talks about family so much,’ Junor said.
‘That she’s supportive of their decision is really good news.’ She added: ‘It read to me like a grandmother talking about the family.’
The royal writer said it gave the couple space to find their perspective. ‘I think it will take the pressure off them. I think they’re in a very vulnerable state at the moment. I think they’re unhappy, they feel isolated and unloved, unappreciated and they needed careful handling,’ she said.
‘My reading from that statement is that the family has been sensitive to their vulnerability.’
Meanwhile, biographer and royal historian Robert Lacey said the language was an immensely personal intervention uncharacteristic of typical Palace communiqués.
He told BBC Radio 4: ‘It is remarkably hands-on. I mean it may have been processed through officials but this is the Queen, speaking to her people and speaking about her family, and I think coming right through it is the concern she feels.’
Penny Junor (pictured) described the monarch’s words on the future of Harry and Meghan as ‘friendly and warm’
Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter added that the move was likely to be telling, tweeting : ‘I do think it was very striking, particularly in a statement from the Queen. Are they having to give up their titles? This would be an indication they are…’
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, believes the Queen’s statement, which uses the word ‘family’ eight times, was intended to be ‘very gentle and very informal’.
‘It’s just the way it’s written is extremely informal, and I think that’s to make it very friendly,’ the royal biographer said.
‘And I think it’s quite gentle. And I think that’s probably the whole approach, it’s gently, gently. And interestingly enough, she keeps mentioning family, the whole way through.
‘It’s certainly not Oscar Wilde. But I just think it’s a very together and quite loose statement and obviously it’s just to keep everybody happy moving forward.’
Asked about the next steps following the statement, Ms Seward said: ‘She said in the coming days, so that’s very quick for the royal family.
‘I think we’ll be hearing more quite shortly – I think this is a bridge.’
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