Queen Elizabeth and other senior royals are trying to thrash out a plan for Prince Harry and wife Meghan after the shock announcement they will step back from their roles and spend much of their time in North America.
The couple blindsided the queen and other Windsors on Wednesday when they said they wanted to lead a more independent life.
Harry and Meghan said they hoped to finance the plan themselves, with one royal source saying the move had hurt and disappointed the family.
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Neither Queen Elizabeth nor Prince Charles – Harry’s father and heir to the throne – had been consulted on the announcement, made on Instagram.
“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the statement read.
“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they had been reflecting for months and would split their time between Britain and North America to allow them and their baby son the space they needed.
Buckingham Palace was taken aback, saying there had been only preliminary discussions about the couple’s future.
But another royal source said on Thursday the queen, Charles and Harry’s elder brother William had told senior officials to work with governments to help the couple come up with “workable solutions” preferably within days.
It is not immediately clear how Harry, 35 and sixth in line to the throne, and Meghan, 38, will become what royal biographers said was effectively “half-royal” and who will pay for their transatlantic lifestyles.
No senior royal made immediate comment on the decision but popular newspapers said Charles and William were furious.
Harry has long been angry at the treatment he and his wife have received from the “tabloids” and in his announcement said they would reduce media access to their engagements.
Prince Charles, for his part, has long sought to slim down the number of senior royals in the public spotlight.
But the haste of the decision raises questions for a family that, in Elizabeth’s words, has had a “quite bumpy” year – not least because of her son Prince Andrew’s decision to step back due to his relationship with wealthy convicted US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Royal commentators drew parallels with the abdication of King Edward VIII, who gave up the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson – like Meghan, an American divorcee – and lived out his life in France.
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