The Queen has moved quickly to take control of the crisis surrounding the decision by Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to distance themselves from the royal family, ordering royal courtiers to sort out a future role for the pair within days.
British media reported Friday that the monarch, who is at her Sandringham estate in eastern England, held a conference call with her son Prince Charles and grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry.
The royal family is said to be “hurt” by Harry and Meghan’s statement Wednesday that they want to step down from being senior royals, with reports claiming they were not told of the statement beforehand.
But the Queen, Charles and William have told their teams to work with government and the Sussexes to sort out a solution.
In the meantime, Meghan has returned to Canada, where she and Harry spent the Christmas holidays, instead of with other royals at Sandringham. The former actress is American but has longstanding ties to Canada, having lived in Toronto while filming the TV show “Suits.”
The talks come after the royal pair released a “personal message” Wednesday evening that said they were stepping back from being senior members of Britain’s royal family, would work to become financially independent and would “balance” their time between the UK and North America.
Harry, 35, is Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson and sixth in line to the British throne, behind his father, older brother William and his brother’s three children.
The former British Army officer is one of the royal family’s most popular members and has spent his entire life in the public eye.
Before marrying the prince in a wedding watched around the world in 2018, the 38-year-old Meghan was a star of the TV legal drama “Suits.” The couple’s son Archie was born in May 2019.
A friend of the couple, broadcaster Tom Bradby, said Harry and Meghan were made aware while in Canada over the holidays that the monarchy’s future focus would be on those at the top of the line of succession.
An image of the monarch, Charles, William and his son George released last week underscored the message of who the Windsors see as their core members.
Bradby, an ITV television anchor who filmed a documentary with Harry and Meghan while they were in Africa, appeared in a news program on his network and described the royal split as inevitable. The wish by the duke and duchess to leave the grind of front-line royal duty had been known, but the timing of their announcement was not.
The palace knew
“It’s certainly not true to say the palace were blindsided by this,” Bradby told ITV.
“The couple’s view was they came back and wanted to talk to the family about their plans. It had been made clear to them in their absence there was going to be a slimmed-down monarchy and they weren’t really a part of it.”
Harry and Meghan, meanwhile, have faced a barrage of criticism from the British press over their decision.