Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be allowed to live independently and split their lives between Canada and the UK after showdown talks with senior members of the Royal Family.
The Queen said she “had very constructive discussions” on the future of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and it had been agreed there will be a “period of transition” in which they will live in both countries.
In a unusually personal statement from the Queen, in which she referred to Harry as her grandson, she made it clear that the couple’s decision was against her wishes and that “we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family”.
The statement also acknowledges that Harry and Meghan do not want to be “reliant” on taxpayers money – though doesn’t make clear whether they will be granted any public funds. Nor does it clarify whether Harry and Meghan will continue to carry out official royal duties.
The full statement says:
“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.
“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 statement comes days after Harry and Meghan were said to have left the Queen feeling “hurt” after they reportedly did not consult her before making their bombshell announcement last Wednesday.
They made the announcement via the SussexRoyal Instagram account, saying they want to become financially independent.
Harry and Meghan’s decision – and a new official Sussexroyal.com website – have thrown up important questions about media access to their royal events and how they will pay for their future lifestyles.
In response, the Queen ordered Charles, William and Harry to come up with a “workable solution” to the issue.
One royal source said “next steps” will be agreed at the meeting, adding that it was the Queen’s wish that the issue is resolved “at pace”.
Some at Buckingham Palace are reported to fear that Harry and Meghan could conduct a potentially damaging television interview if they do not get what they want.
In an article for The Sunday Times, broadcaster Tom Bradby – a friend of both Harry and William – said: “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 also revealed that the relationship between Harry and William began to sour at the time of the wedding in 2018.
“Really damaging things were said and done,” Bradby wrote. “The atmosphere soured hard and early, but few meaningful attempts were made by anyone to heal the wounds.”
He added: “There is no doubt Harry and Meghan feel they have been driven out.”
Today, the princes denied further reports that William had “bullied” the couple in a further remarkable statement.
It read: “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.”
What’s the reaction been?
Many commentators have remarked on the candid, almost personal language the Queen used in her statement.
BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond wrote that “her regret over Harry and Meghan's move is obvious” and that while she would have preferred them to stay in their current roles, she made it clear that they are “still royals”.
Despite the Royal Family being “fully supportive” of Harry and Meghan’s decision to step down as senior royals, The Queen’s sadness and disappointment is tangible in this statement. She wanted them to remain a “full-time” part of the family but they are off “to create a new life”
— Roya Nikkhah (@RoyaNikkhah) January 13, 2020
The Sunday Times royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah appeared to agree, tweeting: “Despite the Royal Family being ‘fully supportive’ of Harry and Meghan’s decision to step down as senior royals, the Queen’s sadness and disappointment is tangible in this statement. She wanted them to remain a ‘full-time’ part of the family but they are off ‘to create a new life’.”
Royal historian Robert Lacey told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that the statement was “unusually personal”, with several references to "my family" and "my grandson".
He also pointed out that instead of using their titles - the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - the Queen simply called them "Harry and Meghan".
BREAKING: Harry/Meghan have successfully bullied the Queen into letting them have their cake & eat it. pic.twitter.com/ItD9I2uLJ7
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 13, 2020
ITV royal commentator Chris Ship asked on Twitter: "If the ‘transition period’ means they will spend time ‘in Canada and the UK’... is their life post-transition entirely to be spent in Canada?"
He tweeted earlier that it was unclear if Meghan dialled into the meeting from Canada, where she is staying with baby Archie.
I wrote in my blog earlier that no one wants this to drag on like Brexit, and now the statement from The Queen talks about a “transition period” before #HarryandMeghan leave.
That does feel like Brexit! https://t.co/hG7mZ8qPn4
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) January 13, 2020
Good Morning Britain host, and frequent critic of the couple, Piers Morgan tweeted: "BREAKING: Harry/Meghan have successfully bullied the Queen into letting them have their cake & eat it."