The Queen looked downcast as she arrived for a Sunday church service this morning, just a day before she will host crisis talks at Sandringham in a bid to find a solution to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s future roles.
Dressed in a camel-coloured coat and hat, and wearing a hearing aid, the 93-year-old monarch was seen riding in the back of a chauffeur-driven vehicle, heading to the 16th century St Mary Magdalene Church.
Among those arriving to the church on foot was the Princess Royal’s son Peter Phillips, who was pictured chatting to fellow guests.
When Mr Phillips, the Queen’s oldest grandson, was asked how she was bearing up, he responded that she was ‘alright’.
After the service at the church in Sandringham, Norfolk, well-wishers and royal enthusiasts clapped as the Queen left the church, and she waved from her car as it pulled away.
Tomorrow, Her Majesty will be joined at her private estate by the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge for the crunch meeting – where the ‘next steps’ will be decided, after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell announcement last week.
Charles was in Oman on Sunday to attend a condolence ceremony following the death Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, and is expected to travel back to the UK in time for the crisis talks.
Members of the public gathered to catch a glimpse of the Queen this morning, and gave their views on the royal crisis dubbed ’Megxit’.
Paula Myhill, 38, who lives near Norwich, was the first to arrive, she said: ‘My view is that if they want to go they don’t get anything – they don’t get money, they don’t get titles.
‘If they don’t want to be part of the royals then they shouldn’t have the titles.
‘If they want to have security then they have to pay for it themselves the same way as a celebrity would.’
Ms Myhill said she feels sorry for the Queen, adding: ‘She’s had a bit of a bad year.’
Her mother, Sue Goodchild, 59, said: ‘She’s been exemplary in her role all her life.’
Ms Goodchild said she thinks the Queen will deal with the family summit ‘systematically’ and added: ‘That’s her grandson. Of course she’s going to protect him whatever she does. She’s a grandma.’
She added: ‘It’s hard for them all. Charles and William.’
Jean Acton, 70, from Fakenham, is queuing to get near the church on the Sandringham estate.
Asked about Harry and Meghan, she said: ‘I think they should give any monies back. You can’t have your cake and eat it.
Dressed in a camel-coloured coat and hat, the 93-year-old arrived for morning service at 16th century St Mary Magdalene Church, in Sandringham, Norfolk
Queen Elizabeth II arrives to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
Peter Phillips leads guests to St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk to attend a Sunday morning church service
Queen Elizabeth II (left) and Peter Phillips (right) arrive to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
Dressed in a camel-coloured coat and hat, the 93-year-old monarch was seen riding in the back of a chauffeur-driven vehicle, heading for morning service at the 16th century St Mary Magdalene Church, in Sandringham, Norfolk
Prince Charles meeting the new Sultan, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said today in Oman. The Prince of Wales is expected to make it back for the crisis talks on Monday
Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. Members of the public and well-wishers clapped as she left
Queen Elizabeth leaves church at the Sandringham Estate today. Senior members of Britain’s royal family are expected to meet to discuss Prince Harry and Meghan’s future roles in crunch talks on Monday
‘I just think they’ve done the dirty on the Queen.’
Speaking about the Queen, she said: ‘I feel desperately sorry for her. It must be horrible. For any parent. Let alone if you’re a royal or not.’
She described the crisis as a ‘slap in the face’ for the Queen.
It comes as the Duke of Cambridge has said he is unable to even ‘put an arm round’ his younger brother nowadays, after a rift saw them drift apart over the past year.
Harry and Meghan’s intention to quit as senior Royals has widened the gulf between the two siblings, with William understood to be ‘incandescent’ over his brother’s blindsiding of the Family.
But as the brothers gear up to come face-to-face at the Queen’s high-stakes crisis summit at Sandringham on Monday, the second-in-line to the throne confided in a friend his raw agony over the cracked sibling bond.
He said: ‘I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more – we’re separate entities,’ according to the Sunday Times.
William also spoke of his frustration that Harry is no longer part of the ‘team’ by deciding to become ‘financially independent’ in a pared-back Royal role.
Yet he hopes that there will ‘come a time’ when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be ‘singing from the same page’ once again.
Prince William is desperately sad that the once close relationship he enjoyed with Prince Harry has been wrecked, it was claimed by a friend on Saturday night
The Queen driving in Sandringham, Norfolk, on Saturday afternoon wearing a headscarf, was seen driving away from the estate in her Land Rover at lunchtime
Scene of the showdown: The Queen has summoned Princes Charles, William and Harry to her Sandringham Estate (pictured) on Monday for unprecedented crisis talks to resolve the Sussex situation
The Queen, who was pictured ashen-faced behind the wheel of her Land Rover today, is also said to be concerned for the mental fragility of her grandson Harry. It also emerged the Duke of Sussex pulled the trigger on his abdication decision because he feared his wife, who had not settled well in the UK, was ‘on the brink’ and could suffer a meltdown if she remained in the country permanently.
Anxious to avoid exacerbating an already tense situation, the Royal Family is keen to tread carefully. A source said: ‘There is no suggestion that they will be punished or stripped of their Royal titles or HRH status. Everyone wants to find a solution to this as quickly as possible.’
After laying down a 72-hour ultimatum to aides on Friday to hammer out a solution to the Sussexes’ future roles, Her Majesty summoned Princes Charles, William and Harry to her Norfolk Estate to put an end to the turmoil ravaging the monarchy – while Meghan is expected to join the discussions via a conference call from Canada.
What will be discussed at the summit?
1. Whether Harry and Meghan will keep their HRH titles.
2. The volume of royal duties the couple will still be expected to perform both in the UK and abroad.
3. The Duke and Duchess’s funding and whether they will receive money from the Queen and Prince Charles after they are cut off from the sovereign grant cash supply.
4. Rules regarding the commercial deals the couple will be allowed to broker in their move to becoming ‘financially independent’.
Courtiers have quickly crashed together a document outlining several blueprints for Harry and Meghan’s new position within the Royal ranks.
Palace staff will also spell out the punitive taxes which could be inflicted on the couple, should they press ahead with their plans to resign from frontline duties.
However, the Sandringham Summit will extend to the ‘next steps’ for the entire monarchy, which is staring down the barrel of its worst crisis since 1992’s Annus Horriblis, when both Charles and Diana, and Andrew and Sarah Ferguson both divorced.
Commentators have drawn parallels between the New Way Ahead Group – when the senior Royals bunkered down 28 years ago to chart a path out of the chaos – and the Queen’s urgency to stamp out the Sussex situation immediately.
Ahead of the Firm’s unprecedented parley:
- ITV presenter and Sussex confidante Tom Bradby said the couple could give a ‘no-holds-barred’ interview that could further damage the Royal Family. Courtiers fear Meghan could brand the household racist;
- Royal aides were poised to spell out the punitive taxes that could be inflicted on Harry and Meghan if they press ahead with their plans to quit;
- A video from July emerged where Harry seemed to tell head of Disney Meghan is interested in doing voiceovers. She has since been given work with the company;
- Prince Philip was said to be livid with the current crisis ravaging the Family;
- A source rubbished speculation the Sussexes plan to settle down on Vancouver Island where they spent Christmas and instead touted Toronto or LA as potential cities;
- It emerged Meghan sneaked back to Vancouver Island on a £134 budget flight;
- It was revealed Meghan and Kate Middleton haven’t spoken in over six months after the sisters-in-law severed all communication on a family WhatsApp group
- Reuters reported that negotiations between Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Kensington Palace and the Sussex household has been progressing well;
- Her Majesty was pictured stony-faced as she emerged from her Norfolk estate behind the wheel of her Land Rover for the second day running
Growing up, William and Harry’s brotherly love seemed unbreakable, with the pair supporting each other in the wake of their mother Diana’s death.
As they both developed into their roles as senior members of the Royal Family, they became a somewhat double act who would do engagements together. Even when William married Kate, they would often attend events as a trio.
What do each of the Royals want from the Sandringham Summit?
The Queen: Her Majesty will want to ensure relative continuity in the monarchy and not allow it to become a vehicle for Royals to make money, as Harry and Meghan have been accused of plotting to do. But she will also want to safeguard Harry’s wellbeing, amid concerns for her grandson’s mental fragility.
Prince Charles: The first-in-line to the throne is also seeking stability to ensure his impending ascendancy is not jeopardised. But like the Queen, he has also expressed concern for Harry.
Prince William: He is planning for a streamlined and modern Royal Family and has said he wants his brother ‘singing from the same song sheet’. William will also want to resolve the crisis so Harry is not stealing his thunder.
Prince Harry: The Royal who sparked the current crisis by announcing his and Meghan’s decision to step back will drive a hard bargain to secure the best financial settlement possible while guaranteeing his family’s independence.
But during the past year rumours of a brewing row between the brothers began to bubble up, eventually boiling over when Harry and Meghan quit the charitable entity they spearheaded with the Cambridges and branched off to form their own.
In an ITV documentary earlier this year, Harry refused to deny speculation of the rift and said he and William were on ‘different paths’.
And it is not just the brothers who have drifted apart, as it was claimed last night that Meghan and Kate Middleton have not spoken in over six months after ceasing communication on their WhatsApp group, according to the Mirror.
The break-up of the so-called Fab Four, which was cemented when the Sussexes left Kensington Palace, weighed on Harry immensely at the time, a source told the Sunday Times.
They said: ‘Harry was very opposed to it at first. He saw it as the opening of a chasm between him and his brother. William was also concerned.’
But before the break-up, Harry had begun to feel ‘frustrated’ at being told not to take on certain projects or scale them back in favour of his brother, the paper reports.
To remedy growing tensions, it is believed that Kate was the one who dreamed up the Heads Together mental health charity as a way of of them coming together.
But the group charity only proved to be a temporary solution, with William now keen to distance the Cambridge camp from the Sussexes as far as possible to limit damage done to the family’s reputation, sources claim.
This may all be strategic, however, as the Sunday Times also reports that the brothers will ‘always be there for each other’ and that their father did envisage Harry and Meghan as part of the new ‘slimmed-down monarchy’.
As heir to the throne, William’s staff at Kensington Palace have spent the past few days bunkered down in talks aimed at resolving the crisis raging through the Windsor ranks.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle told Elton John of their plans to quit royal duties BEFORE they told the Queen
By Rod Ardehali for MailOnline
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle told Elton John their plans to quit their senior royal duties before telling the Queen, it has emerged.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have grown close to the singer in recent years, having even made use of Sir Elton’s French Riviera home and his private jet last summer.
The singer, described as a ‘rock’ to the royal rebels, defended the pair following the backlash over their use of four private jets in 11 days, calling Princess Diana one of his ‘dearest friends’ whose family he ‘felt a profound sense of obligation to protect.’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have grown close to the singer in recent years, having even made use of Sir Elton’s French Riviera home and his private jet last summer
Now it has emerged that Harry and Meghan turned to Sir Elton before announcing their bombshell decision on Instagram last week.
‘Elton speaks to Harry and Meghan every day. He’s an inspiration, an almost ‘motherly’ figure,’ a royal insider told the Mirror.
‘He is a constant support, especially to Meghan, and is very protective of them both,’ they added.
While a source close to Sir Elton added: ‘He has been their rock. So while he would never tell them what to do he has been a listening ear and support throughout.’
A spokesperson for the Candle in the Wind singer said: ‘Elton supports the fact that Harry and Meghan are admirably taking control of their own lives.
‘He cares about them both and their family deeply and is fully supportive of any decisions the couple make, knowing they are made by them alone, without outside influence and with their future happiness and wellbeing in mind.’
The Duke of Cambridge will weigh in on the ‘Sussex situation’ at the summit where Harry and Meghan will be confronted with the dire financial impact of abandoning the Royal Family at an extraordinary Sandringham summit tomorrow.
Each of the four Royals are expected to be accompanied by their respective private secretaries - Sir Edward Young (Queen), Clive Alderton (Charles), Simon Case (William) and Fiona Mcilwham (Harry).
Ms Mcilwham, who recently joined the Sussex household from the Foreign Office, is said to have joked with colleagues: ‘I was offered the Iran desk [at the FCO]. That might have been easier’.
Among the sticking points to be thrashed out at the Sandringham summit are whether Harry and Meghan will keep their HRH titles, whether they will continue to perform royal duties abroad, the subject of their funding, and rules regarding commercial deals they hope to strike as they become ‘financially independent’.
Royal aides and Government officials have drawn up a range of scenarios setting out the ‘stark implications’ faced by Harry and Meghan if they abandon or dramatically scale back their royal duties – including a major tax trap.
In what sources described as a ‘reality check moment’, Harry will travel to Sandringham for a showdown with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William. Meghan is expected to join by phone from Canada, where she is caring for their eight-month-old son, Archie.
A senior source said a solution that is ‘compatible with taxpayers, compatible with reality and compatible with the Queen’ was being sought.
But the mood is likely to be tense. The Mail on Sunday understands that anger over Harry and Meghan’s defiance of an order not to go public with their so-called ‘abdication’ plan has been compounded by the suggestion – denied by Palace sources – that the couple told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about their move before the Queen.
There is also speculation the couple’s close friend Sir Elton John knew about the decision before the Queen.
Meanwhile, Meghan has been telling friends that a move to North America will be a welcome relief from her ‘toxic’ life in Britain.
Back in the UK, royal sources believe Harry’s ‘stubborn’ nature will mean he will remain determined to see his and Meghan’s split from the family through.
At tomorrow’s meeting, Prince Harry will be handed documents, compiled following discussions with HMRC and the Canadian tax authority, that will set out in detail the financial penalties for a range of scenarios.
These include a so-called hard Megxit involving a permanent move to North America and a soft Megxit in which the couple split their time between Britain and overseas and retain full, active Royal roles.
Harry will be told that he would face a potential ‘double tax’ on any commercial income and a large bill for Frogmore Cottage, his home in Windsor, if he and Meghan decide to ditch their royal duties and relocate abroad.
The bill could run into millions of pounds. Canada requires residents – anyone who spends 183 days or more in the country – and some property owners to pay income tax on their global earnings. Similar rules apply in the UK, but the limit is 90 days.
It would mean that Harry might have to give up his UK residency or limit his time in Canada, else risk being double-taxed on any commercial income, paying in both countries.
Meghan, who is an American citizen, already has to pay tax in the US on any global earnings regardless of where she lives.
The couple may also face hefty charges on any funding they get from Prince Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall estate and could have to pay rent at commercial levels for Frogmore Cottage, which underwent a taxpayer-funded £2.4 million refurbishment before the couple moved in. The couple currently receive annual funding, also of about £2.4 million, mostly from Charles.
There is also genuine concern about the mental fragility of the couple – particularly Harry – so aides are doing all they can to try to ease any transition.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be confronted with the dire financial impact of abandoning the Royal Family at an extraordinary Sandringham summit tomorrow (the couple on Tuesday)
Queen is spotted out and about on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk amid the Royal crisis unfolding over her grandson
Tom Bradby warns of ‘no-holds-barred’ Royal interview
Tom Bradby and Prince Harry on ITV documentary ‘Harry & Meghan: An African Journey’
Journalist and close confidante of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Tom Bradby has warned that if the Royal couple are left feeling hard done by, they may give a ‘no-holds barred’ interview which would could further damage the monarchy.
Mr Bradby, who the Duke and Duchess of Sussex opened up to in an ITV interview in which Meghan admitted she was struggling with her new role, suggested it is in the interests of the royal household to keep the couple on-side.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Mr Bradby said: ‘I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holes-barred sit down interview and I don’t think it would be pretty.’
Courtiers fear that Meghan would brand the royal household racist and sexist, according to the publication.
Bradby believes Harry is determined to ‘make the best’ of the situation they have found themselves in, and believe they are taking a positive step which could also pave the way for future generations including Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
They understood to have devised plans to offer special arrangements to reduce the couple’s tax liability if they agree to a fuller royal role.
A royal source last night told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This meeting will give the Duke and Duchess an unvarnished look at the full implications of their choices.
‘Lots of assumptions have been made about how things can work, but this will be the time for workable decisions to be made in the full knowledge of the consequences and implications, however unappealing.’
Another Palace source said: ‘There are a range of possibilities to review.
‘Next steps will be agreed at the meeting. The request for this to be resolved at pace is still Her Majesty’s wish. The aim remains days not weeks.’
Wayne Bewick, an expert on the Canadian tax system for the firm Trowbridge, said: ‘Harry’s duties for the Crown could be considered employment income for Canadian purposes.’
In addition to discussion of the Sussex finances, the Sandringham summit will discuss any potential new role for Harry.
He is already President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, which focuses on projects involving children, but one option might be to extend that role to make it easier to spend time in Canada.
There was no sign of Meghan yesterday at the £11 million mansion on Vancouver Island where she and Harry finalised their plan to scale back their royal duties over the New Year.
But in a sign of the couple’s wish to spend considerable time in North America, they have moved their pet dogs to the property.
Despite the crisis, Palace sources say Harry will honour his commitment to host the draw for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup at Buckingham Palace on Thursday after which he is expected to fly to Canada to be reunited with his wife and son.
Princess Anne and Prince Edward have called on the Queen to sack her private secretary
Senior members of the Royal Family including Princess Anne and Prince Edward have called on Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, to step down.
He has become a scapegoat for the Royal Family’s recent troubles, according to The Times.
Sir Edward Young will help oversee crunch talks at Sandringham tomorrow with Charles, William and Harry.
It has been claimed that courtiers privately admitted that a lack of personal authority has made it difficult for him to defend the Queen’s interests during the crisis.
Insiders said Young had let down the Queen because he was unable to tell Charles, William and Harry things they did not want to hear.
The source added that it has now become a ‘blame game’ and said that Young has failed to be ‘wise and intuitive’.
Up until this point Anne and Edward have both stayed out of the royal drama, including Harry and William’s ‘feud’.
My wife needs a job! Astonishing moment Prince Harry appears to tout Meghan Markle for a Disney voiceover job as he’s seen explaining her credentials to Hollywood mogul Bob Iger at Lion King premiere
By Charlotte Griffiths for the Mail on Sunday and Jack Elsom for MailOnline
Meghan Markle‘s voiceover deal with Disney could have been swung by Harry after video footage emerged of the Prince seemingly trying to persuade franchise boss Bob Iger to give his wife a job.
At the Lion King premiere in London last July, the Duke of Sussex collared the powerful Disney chief and advertised his ex-actress partner’s ‘interest’ in doing voiceover work.
During the hushed conversation, caught on camera by a fan, the Prince gestures to Meghan and says: ‘You do know she does voiceovers?’
Iger can be heard replying: ‘Ah, I did not know that.’ Harry then responds: ‘You seem surprised. She’s really interested.’ The Disney chief then says: ‘We’d love to try. That’s a great idea.’
It was revealed yesterday by the Times that Meghan has signed a voiceover deal with the Walt Disney Company in exchange for a donation to Elephants Without Borders, a wildlife charity that helps to track and protect the animals from poachers.
The star-studded premiere last summer raised funds for Harry’s conservation projects in Africa, particularly raising awareness of the dwindling numbers of lions in Kenya.
On the red carpet of the Lion King premiere last July, the Duke of Sussex collared the powerful Disney chief and advertised ex-actress partner’s ‘interest’ in doing voiceover work. Right: Meghan embraces Beyoncé
Alongside a raft of celebrities including Beyoncé and Elton John, the Duke and Duchess attended the event in their capacity as senior Royals, a position they are poised to renounce.
Meghan recorded the voiceover before the royal couple left for their six-week Christmas break to Canada in a £10.7million mansion on Vancouver Island.
Friends say Meghan is keen to try her hand at directing too, as she wants to keep close ties with the film industry but doesn’t want to have her face on the big screen again just yet.
Yet branching into voiceovers could be a hint towards how the couple become ‘financially independent’ when they cut ties with the Royal Family.
Experts said becoming a brand ambassador for a global giant such as or Apple could earn the couple tens of millions annually. A nine-figure sum each year – $100million – would add up to $1billion (£760million) over a decade.
The couple have yet to say exactly how they will meet their ambition to ‘become financially independent’. But their unique stellar cachet – blending blue blood and Hollywood royalty – could net them huge amounts.
During tense talks before Christmas, senior members of the royal family accused the pair of already agreeing to a deal with ‘firms including Disney’, according to one report.
Inside high-stakes negotiations at Sandringham: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be offered a compromise ‘Commonwealth role’ as courtiers desperately search for a face-saving solution to Megxit – and one aide warns ‘I’ve never seen the monarchy in such a bad state’
By Kate Mansey for the Mail on Sunday
Sandringham House, near the coast in rural Norfolk, is normally a private sanctuary for the Queen and Prince Philip, a place for family gatherings where they can escape the endless formalities of London and Windsor.
Since Wednesday, however, this Royal retreat has found itself at the heart of the crisis enveloping the Duke and Duchess of Sussex following their shock decision to step back from their official duties and spend more time in North America.
Palace sources say the Queen has demanded a solution be found ‘at pace’ – a sign of real concern in an institution that prefers to operate at glacial speed. But then, as a well-placed source put it: ‘I have never seen the monarchy in such a bad state.’
Sandringham House has found itself at the heart of the crisis enveloping the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Pictured: The Queen on the Sandringham Estate today
Who will be at the crisis summit?
Fiona Mcilwham, the Sussexes new private secretary is expected to be at the summit
The Queen and her private secretary Sir Edward Young
The Queen is head of state and head of the royal family, and will ultimately have the final say in the matter.
As the nation’s longest-reigning monarch, her experience and knowledge on the workings of the institution of the monarchy are unrivalled.
Through the decades, the Queen has weathered the Windsors’ many storms and is a symbol of stability both for the nation and within the royal family.
Although left hurt by Harry and Meghan’s actions, the Queen is not given to rash decisions, and will be approaching the problem in a calm and pragmatic way.
The Prince of Wales and his principal private secretary Clive Alderton
Heir to the throne, Charles is the future king and currently bankrolls Harry and Meghan’s public duties through his £21 million-a-year Duchy of Cornwall income.
The prince is a caring, sensitive soul, and is said to be furious at how Harry and Meghan have handled the situation.
He is committed to his royal duty, but will also want his impetuous youngest son, who endured the loss of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, when he was only 12, and Meghan to be happy.
The Duke of Cambridge and his private secretary Simon Case
When Harry turned 21, he described William as the one person on the planet to whom he could talk to about everything.
But talk of a falling out between the brothers, with William said to have urged his brother to not rush into marrying Meghan, has changed their once-close relationship.
William, who was said to be ‘incandescent with rage’ at the Sussexes’ actions, is a future king, and his position within the royal family is vastly different from sixth-in-line Harry, who has moved steadily down the line of succession and has to carve out his own role.
Mr Case was has been a leading civil servant previously tasked with trying to solve the border issue in Northern Ireland and Ireland during Brexit discussions.
The Duke of Sussex and the couple’s relatively new private secretary Fiona Mcilwham
Harry has always been a favourite with royal fans, who have never forgotten the heart-rending image of the 12-year-old prince walking behind his mother’s coffin.
In his younger days, he was a royal liability – dabbling with cannabis, dressing up as a Nazi and brawling with a paparazzi photographer – before he pulled off a charm offensive as he carried out overseas tours on behalf of the Queen.
Behind closed doors, courtiers are desperately searching for a face-saving measure that will keep the family together and the dignity of the monarchy intact. And not only that, for Her Majesty is said to be increasingly concerned for Prince Harry’s mental wellbeing.
After days of meetings, The Mail on Sunday understands that senior courtiers are preparing to offer the Sussexes a compromise deal potentially involving a Commonwealth role. This would allow them to both maintain their HRH status and live in Canada.
Anxious to avoid exacerbating an already tense situation, the Royal Family is keen to tread carefully. A source said: ‘There is no suggestion that they will be punished or stripped of their Royal titles or HRH status. Everyone wants to find a solution to this as quickly as possible.’
All the same, the Palace let it be known that the 93-year-old Queen was ‘hurt’ and ‘disappointed’ by Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to make their announcement without consulting senior Royals.
Prince Harry had been due to fly back to Canada with wife Meghan on Thursday to be united with their eight-month-old son Archie, but decided to stay on in Britain while a deal is thrashed out.
The Queen has a warm relationship with her grandson so it might seem a surprise that the ‘Megxit’ crisis, as it has been termed, should have been allowed to develop in this way.
In truth, however, tensions have been simmering for months.
It was back in May that Meghan and Harry first made it clear they would like to break away from what they see as the stifling constraints of life inside ‘The Firm’.
A source said that Meghan and Harry found the slow pace of Palace life ‘painful’ and that – in another echo of Brexit – Meghan wanted to ‘take back control’ of her work and charitable endeavours.
To the couple’s dismay, senior Royals were reluctant to discuss their plans with them – so the pair decided to take ‘time out’ with a six-week sabbatical to Canada in November and December.
This decision, too, came as a surprise: the Queen only found out about the break in November when she telephoned Harry to ask if he would be spending Christmas with the family at Sandringham. The answer was no.
Harry asked for a meeting with the Queen at Sandringham when he returned to Britain after Christmas, but it seems aides blocked this until he had ironed out the details of his future plans with his father, Prince Charles. He in turn asked his son to think about it some more and submit a more thorough proposal.
Harry tried again a few days later, and again he was told more time was required to consider the implications, particularly over how the funding would work.
It was made clear he should not make his proposals public until further discussions had taken place – so there was almost no warning at all when the storm broke over Sandringham. The Queen was still hosting the last of the informal gatherings of the festive season, with the decorations still on display (they traditionally remain up until February 6, to mark the anniversary of the death of the Queen’s father, George VI).
Just a few days before, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had joined her for the Sunday morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the estate. Kate’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton were there too, having recently returned from a winter break in St Barts in the Caribbean.
The sermon was given by Rt Rev Vivienne Faull, the Bishop of Bristol, who is believed to have later joined the family for Sunday lunch back in Sandringham’s ornate, green-painted dining room.
But late on Wednesday afternoon the atmosphere of celebration was shattered. A private secretary at Sandringham broke the news to the Queen just ten minutes before the Sussexes’ statement was made public. Her Majesty is thought to have been told of the announcement in a wood-panelled sitting room known as the salon – a room open to visitors who tour Sandringham when it opens to the public every summer.
Despite the traditional setting, the Queen is understood to have read the announcement on an iPad before watching coverage on TV as broadcasters revealed the shock announcement to the country.
Her public response, that there was much more to discuss, was delivered swiftly, as were comments from those inside the palace that senior Royals had been left ‘hurt’ and ‘deeply disappointed’.
It hardly helped that the following day, Thursday, was the Duchess of Cambridge’s 38th birthday.
Meghan Markle sneaked back to Vancouver island mansion on £134 budget flight
Idyllic: The royal couple have been living in a luxury £10.7million property on Vancouver Island
Meghan Markle sneaked back to the Vancouver island mansion where she spent Christmas on a £134 budget flight after jetting back to Canada in the wake of shock Royal resignation announcement, it is understood.
With the runaway Royals’ finances and spending under fierce scrutiny, film of her arrival courtesy of Canada’s WestJet airline might have provided welcome publicity, but she eluded waiting TV crews who, assuming she was coming in on a private jet, focused their attention elsewhere.
With no return flight booked and no official UK engagements, she could remain in Canada for the foreseeable future – and, when he arrives, so too could Harry.
To their new Canadian neighbours, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex seemed ‘just like regular guys’. Sure, they were staying in an £11 million waterside mansion, but they were friendly, polite and, said one, ‘went to the Fickle Fig farm shop and stopped for coffee just like everyone else’.
Some who encountered the couple over the festive season were asked politely by royal protection officers to refrain from spilling the beans on social media for ‘at least for a couple of weeks’ so they could enjoy some peace.
Not only were courtiers alarmed by the abrupt way in which Harry and Meghan dropped their bombshell, but sources say there is also some bitterness that they were misled for weeks beforehand.
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Downcast Queen arrives for church at Sandringham as Prince Charles makes a flying visit to Oman ahead of tomorrow's royal showdown over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to quit duties - after Wills revealed sadness at the 'broken bond' have 6699 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at January 12, 2020. This is cached page on Asean News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.