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Queen agrees to 'transition' for Harry and Meghan, part-time move to Canada
TORONTO -- The Queen has agreed to allow Prince Harry and Meghan to move part-time to Canada during a “period of transition” after senior royals had “constructive discussions” Monday.
“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,” the Queen said in a statement.
“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 The Queen said that Harry and Meghan will spend time in both Canada and the U.K. during a period of transition. The so-called “crisis” talks come less than a week after the couple released a bombshell statement detailing their wish to “step back” from senior royal duties.
“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 continued.
No other details on decisions culminating from the Monday meeting have been released.
The statement came just a few hours after the start of a meeting dubbed by media as the “Sandringham summit.” Charles, Prince of Wales, joined the Queen and his two sons Princes William and Harry at the Norfolk country estate to discuss the future of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Meghan reportedly joined the discussion via telephone from Canada where she is with son Archie.
Earlier on Monday, Princes William and Harry released a joint statement denying reports that a “bullying attitude” from the Duke of Cambridge caused the royal rift. A story in the Times of London claimed that it was “two years of ‘constantly being told their place’” that led to Prince Harry and Meghan’s wish to downsize their role in the family.
“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 statement said, without naming the paper.
‘A TORRID ROYAL WEEK’
With Monday’s summit and Palace statement, it’s clear to some royal watchers that the Queen is now steering the ship after what commentator Richard Fitzwilliams called a “torrid royal week.”
“The Queen has taken control,” he said on CTV News Channel. “It’s been an absolute circus. This is positive news. It looks as though they’ve gone through at breakneck speed.”
It’s unclear in what manner the “Sandringham summit” will continue this week, if at all. Buckingham Palace said that “a range of possibilities” were going to be presented Monday to the couple, who reportedly released the last week’s statement without consulting the Queen and other senior royals.
The Queen reportedly wished to resolve the situation within “days, not weeks,” but “any decision will take time to be implemented,” according to The Associated Press.
WHAT’S ON THE TABLE
There were myriad issues to be discussed in Sandringham despite Prince Harry and Meghan releasing an extensive outline of how they see their new role in the family. “The whole financial situation alone is very, very complicated,” said CTV’s royal commentator Richard Berthelsen on Friday. The couple said they would no longer accept some royal funding, but would continue to be supported by the Prince of Wales through the Duchy of Cornwall trust. Questions remain as to whether they will accept public funding for professional protection while in North America and in the U.K., where they will keep Frogmore Cottage, a Crown estate near Windsor, which the British public contributed 2.4 million pounds (CAD$4 million) to recent renovations.
Late last year, they trademarked the “Sussex Royal” brand, which could stand to make them a hefty sum. Though it’s unclear how they would make most of their money, a clue came just a few days after their surprise statement when it was reported that Meghan signed a deal with Disney to record a voiceover for an unspecified project. The couple have already faced criticism for the perception they plan to “monetize” their royal title, Berthelsen said on Monday.
“It is very problematic. I don’t think you can be a member of the Royal Family undertaking public engagements… then the next day saying those sorts of things are going to be monetized,” he said, adding that work like the Duchess’s Disney deal could be more palatable if proceeds go toward their charitable foundation.
“But there’s going to have be a very serious look at this. I think it’s a lot more complex than they realize,” he said. “The whole notion of a Royal Family that is in the public service and (also) interacting with celebrities in Hollywood or corporations where there is a monetary issue -- I think those are incompatible.”
TELL-ALL ON THE WAY?
The Sandringham summit may have also featured discussions about the couple’s involvement with the media. On Sunday, an op-ed written by ITV News journalist Tom Bradby suggested the Duke and Duchess could partake in a “full, no-holds-barred, sit-down interview.” Bradby interviewed the pair in the fall for a divisive ITV documentary that Berthelsen said “set off the alarm bells” on the couple’s frame of mind.
Whether a tell-all interview is in the cards for the Duke and Duchess is “exactly the thing this (Sandringham) meeting has to resolve,” said Berthelsen.
“That’s a really, really red line that cannot be crossed and it would mean them totally leaving the family if they were to do so. I would be shocked if we didn’t see some resolution of that issue come out of all of this today,” he said. “The Royal Family has to have a degree of confidence that they’re not going to be giving interviews that are blaming certain people.”
The couple’s reconfigured position would be unprecedented among senior members of the Royal Family, in effect creating a new role, said Berthelsen on Friday.
“They’re talking about creating a whole new category of royals. I would call them ‘celebrity royals’ -- people who have their feet one part in the Royal Family and one part in the world of celebrity and they kind of follow their own beat,” he said.
The discussions at Sandringham could have implications reaching far beyond Prince Harry and Meghan alone, said Berthelsen. For other junior members of the Royal Family, such as Prince Andrew’s children Beatrice and Eugenie, talks could further define their positions as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex seek a less “senior” role.
“The Palace is not going to make a deal that’s just going to apply to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” he said.
There will also be implications for Canada, where they plan to spend much time with son Archie.
“What their role would be here in this country, how they would interact with the Queen’s representatives, whether they would take engagements here… There’s all sorts of issues like this on the line,” he said.
“All of these things are going to have to be considered, which may be why we may not hear a definitive answer today on this issue.”