SANDRINGHAM, ENGLAND (AP) — Britain’s pragmatic queen brokered a deal to secure the future of the monarchy, charting a course for Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, that allows them to live part time in Canada while still remaining firmly tied to the House of Windsor.
The decision followed a summit at Queen Elizabeth II’s Sandringham estate in eastern England that sought to resolve the conundrum of what to do with royals who only want the job part time.
The British monarch said in a statement that the summit of senior royals was “constructive”, and that it had been “agreed that there will be a period of transition’’ to sort things out during which Meghan and Harry will spend time in both Canada and the United Kingdom (UK).
“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 that offered a demonstrably soft tone.
“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.’’
Royal statements are usually sticklers for protocol, but the queen referred to “my grandson and his family” and “Harry and Meghan” rather than using the couple’s formal title, Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The summit marked the first face-to-face talks with Harry since he and Meghan unveiled their controversial wish last week to step back from their royal roles, become financially independent and split their time between Britain and North America.
The meeting reflected the queen’s desire to contain the fallout from the independence announcement, which prompted hurt feelings among senior family members not told in advance of the decision.
The House of Windsor showed signs of pulling together. Princes William and Harry issued a joint statement slamming a newspaper report describing a severe strain in their relationship, calling the story offensive and potentially harmful.
Though the statement did not name the newspaper, the Times of London had a front page story about the crisis in which a source alleged that Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by the “bullying attitude” from William. The joint statement insisted that the story was “false”.
“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.
The queen said after the meeting that these were “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.
“What is absolutely imperative, in my view, is that Harry and Meghan do not go away feeling angry and hurt and rejected, because an angry, hurt, rejected Harry and Meghan could cause absolute havoc for the royal family,’’ she said.
“If they don’t care anymore, if they want to show them, if they want to get their own back, it could get very nasty. They could go completely rogue.”