Queen Elizabeth II will host a showdown meeting with Prince Harry on Monday in an attempt to solve the crisis triggered by his bombshell announcement that he and wife Meghan were stepping back from the royal frontline.
Other senior royals including Harry’s father Prince Charles and brother Prince William, with whom he has strained relations, will join the monarch at her private Sandringham estate in eastern England, according to British media.
Meghan will join the meeting via conference call from Canada as they attempt to work out the “next steps” towards a compromise and nip the growing crisis in the bud. Issues up for debate include how much money the couple will still receive from Charles’s estate, their royal titles and what commercial deals they can strike, according to the Sunday Times.
The newspaper reported that William believes he and Harry are now “separate entities”, breaking the bonds forged following their mother’s tragic death. “I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that anymore; we’re separate entities,” the Times reported he told a friend.
Harry, Meghan and son Archie spent Christmas in Canada, with the American former actress returning there this week. The Queen on Thursday demanded that staff work with the couple to find urgently a “workable solution” that would take into account their demands for more freedom.
Several Canadian media reported Meghan had returned to Vancouver Island off the country’s Pacific coast, where the family spent the year-end holidays and where baby Archie had remained with his nanny. Senior royals were caught off guard by Wednesday’s announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wanted to seek a “progressive new role” and divide their time between Britain and North America.
The Queen’s office issued a terse statement the same evening, saying there were “complicated issues that will take time to work through”. Harry and Meghan said they intended to continue to “fully support” the queen and “collaborate” with senior royals.
They also want to keep their home on the queen’s Windsor Castle estate as their British base, while aiming to become financially independent. But their desire to live as both members of the monarchy and private individuals making a living was described as a “toxic mix” by David McClure, an investigator into royal finances.
“The history of senior royals making money the two is a toxic mix. It hasn’t worked well in the past,” he told the Press Association. “How can you be half-in, half-out — half the week perform public duties and the other half earn your own income with TV, lectures, books? It is fraught with dangers.”
The younger prince, who has struggled with his role, last year revealed he has been growing apart from his brother, who as second in line to the throne is increasingly pursuing a different path. Harry has been open about his mental health issues and he and Meghan last year admitted to struggling with the spotlight following their wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and Archie’s birth a year later.
The couple have also lashed out at negative news coverage some of which Harry says was racist in light of Meghan’s biracial heritage. The British public currently appears to be siding with the family, with a Daily Mail poll showing that a majority believe Harry should give up his right to the throne and be stripped of cash support from the royals or taxpayer.