Revealed: Harry spoke to the Queen alone before crunch talks

Tuesday January 14 2020

 

London. The Queen has allowed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to quit as senior Royals following a private heart-to-heart with her grandson at yesterday's crisis summit, it was revealed last night, Mail online reports.

After a family meeting at Sandringham, Her Majesty released a historic and emotionally-charged statement regretting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's decision to split their time between Canada and the UK as they wind down their Royal duties.

According to Daily Mail editor-at-large Richard Kay's inside account of the Norfolk showdown:

According to friends, Harry arrived ahead of schedule to square things with his grandmother, who came into the crunch talks deeply disappointed with him and Meghan for wanting to step back from their official duties.

In last night's statement, her sincere regret was made clear, saying she 'would have preferred them to remain full-time working members'.

But after her one-to-one with Harry - followed by two hours of 'calm' discussions with him, Charles and William - Her Majesty agreed to a 'transition period' where the Duke and Duchess would step away from Royal engagements as they spend more time in Canada.

Advertisement

After Princes Charles, William and Harry left the meeting in three separate cars, the Daily Mail's editor-at-large Richard Kay revealed Meghan was barred from dialling in on the meeting from Vancouver.

Palace officials said such an idea was rejected because no one knew for sure who else might have been listening in.

An insider said: 'This was a highly confidential family discussion, not a conference call.'  

The Queen has said that hammering out a viable blueprint for Harry and Meghan's financially independent future was proving 'complex' and indicated more details need to be ironed out in the coming days.

And sources revealed that Prince Charles also views the matter far from concluded as he knows Harry will rely on his Duchy of Cornwall to meet family bills. 

He has already lavished a small fortune on his younger son, from his wedding to the fitting out Frogmore cottage – the Windsor house he is now largely going to vacate when he uproots to North America.

A friend says: 'He doesn't have unlimited resources. Harry needs to know that.' 

The Queen has ordered staff to find a solution 'within days' to the remaining sticking points, including the couple's future funding, which is expected to impose rigid rules on their commercial activities. 

One figure said: 'There will be strict instructions on branding, for example. No one wants to see the Sussexes' name on a tub of margarine.'

This was a deliberate nod to what happened in the aftermath of Diana's death when her memorial fund began endorsing cash-raising schemes that appalled the public. 

Yesterday's unprecedented Royal parley culminated with a 5pm statement from the Palace, in which the Queen gave Harry and Meghan the green light to press ahead with plans to become 'financially independent'. 

The monarch said: '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 Queen, who is desperate to chart a way out of the crisis raging through the Family ranks, has ordered courtiers to double down efforts to develops blueprint for the Sussexes future, to be completed within days.  

In the statement, the head of state broke with protocol to refer to the couple by their first names rather than the 'Duke and Duchesss of Sussex'.

Some experts have decoded this to mean Harry and Meghan could be stripped of their titles, while others have played it down as the grandmother, 93, simply striking a soft tone. 

Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter said the move was likely to be telling, tweeting : 'I do think it was very striking, particularly in a statement from the Queen. Are they having to give up their titles? This would be an indication they are...'

Reacting to the statement, Queen Elizabeth biographer and royal historian Robert Lacey said the language was an immensely personal intervention uncharacteristic of typical Palace communiqués.

He told BBC Radio 4: 'It is remarkably hands-on. I mean it may have been processed through officials but this is the Queen, speaking to her people and speaking about her family, and I think coming right through it is the concern she feels.' 

Speaking to the Times, royal author Ingrid Seward said: 'The first round has gone to the Sussexes. It feels that the royal family are bending over backwards to try and help.' 

Yesterday's unprecedented meeting represented the first time that Harry, 35, had met with his closest relatives since early November, with the prince and his wife having taken a six-week break in Canada over the Christmas period. Although they arrived back only last week, Meghan, 38, has already returned to the country. 

Aides have now been set to work to try to come up with a workable solution to the crisis preferably by Friday.

This includes enabling the couple to find a way to become 'financially independent' and not rely on taxpayer funds in the future, as well as acceding to their wish to live partly in Canada for the foreseeable future.

Other issues left on the table for further discussion are the cost and provision of the couple's security, particularly while they are spending large swathes of time out of the country.

There is also the matter of Frogmore Cottage, the couple's Windsor home lent to them by the Queen, and refurbished with £2.4million of public money. The couple have insisted that they want to keep the property as a base in the UK.

It is clear that despite the Queen's emphasis on the meeting being 'constructive and supportive', the schism between Harry and his family runs deep.  

The statement failed to hide the sadness of the elderly monarch who has made no secret of the hurt her grandson has caused her in wanting to break away from the institution and choosing to tell the world of his intentions last Wednesday without informing her first.

Harry is expected to leave the country to rejoin his family by the end of the week, after conducting what will likely be an awkward engagement at Buckingham Palace on Thursday in front of the media.

Yesterday's 'Sandringham summit' saw Harry arrive at 11.20am, with his grandmother and father already waiting for him.

At his side was his newly-appointed private secretary, Fiona Mcilwham. His frail grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, was earlier seen driving out of the estate and it is not known if the pair, once so close, even met.

Intriguingly, his brother William, whose relationship with his brother has become so toxic that many insiders describe it as 'irreparable', did not pull through the gates of the Queen's Norfolk estate until 1.45pm, just 15 minutes before the start of the summit. 

It is understood that Meghan, who flew back to Canada just 24 hours after the couple's bombshell statement last week announcing they were to stand down as senior royals, was planning to dial in on speaker phone. She is staying at the couple's borrowed mansion on Vancouver Island with their eight-month-old son Archie.

Some in royal circles suggested last night that Harry and Meghan had left the Queen little option but to capitulate to most of their demands to prevent a 'royal war'.

The statement's talk of a 'transition period' for the couple between the UK and Canada was said by one aide to be simply a chance for the family to gain breathing space while 'this mess of Harry and Meghan's own making is sorted out'.