Topline: Queen Elizabeth II has said she and the Royal Family are “entirely supportive” of Harry and Meghan’s decision to become more independent from the institution, following talks to discuss the terms of the couple's future on Monday.
The Queen said in a statement: “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 monarch added that there will follow a “period of transition” in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will split their time between Canada and the U.K.
Talks to set out the terms of Harry and Meghan’s future roles took place at Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham Estate on Monday. The Duchess of Sussex, who is in Canada with her son, Archie, dialed into the meeting with the British monarch, Prince Charles, Prince William and her husband, Prince Harry.
The meeting was characterized by several British newspapers as “crisis” talks, after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their decision to step back as senior members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent.
The so-called Sandringham Summit saw all four parties work through thorny issues. The couple has said they do not want to rely on public funds going forward, and the details of this are yet to be revealed.
The unprecedented meeting could set a path for other members of the royal family, who want to redefine their roles in one of the world’s most famous and talked-about families.
What to watch for: The Queen added in the statement that the issues discussed at the so-called Sandringham Summit were “complex,” and needed more time to work through. “There is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days,” she wrote.
Key background: Harry and Meghan broke the news via their family Instagram page last week, saying they would split their time between the U.K. and North America, their own business ventures and supporting the Queen and their charity patronages. The announcement set off a media storm after it emerged that other Royal households had been given very limited warning of the unprecedented move from a senior member of Royal Family. Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official HQ, responded by saying talks were in early stages and the issues needed time to work through. The monarch was reported to have instructed the offices of the future heirs, as well as government representatives, to find a solution in days. The couple’s announcement followed months of hints that they were unhappy with the way they had been treated by the U.K. press.
Meanwhile, Harry’s brother, William, was reported over the weekend as telling a friend that he had “put his arm around my brother all my life and I can’t do that anymore. We’re separate entities,” the Sunday Times reported. On Monday, both princes said that a newspaper story implying that Harry had been bullied out of the Royal Family was “false” and “potentially harmful.”
Surprising fact: The idea of “working royals” has not previously worked so smoothly. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Queen’s youngest son, the Earl of Wessex and his PR-executive wife, Sophie, tried to set up and run a couple of firms, but ultimately were forced to abandon their business careers.
Tangent: As was reported last year, Harry and Meghan applied to trademark Sussex Royal across hundreds of items, and will also seek to set up a new charitable entity. Meanwhile, it has been reported that Meghan signed a deal to do a voice-over for Disney, with the money to go toward Elephants Without Borders as part of the deal.
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