Queen Elizabeth to host Meghan-Harry crisis talks
SANDRINGHAM, England- Queen Elizabeth and her heirs meet Prince Harry on Monday to thrash out a plan for him and his actress wife Meghan after they triggered a family crisis by deciding to step back from royal duties and spend more time in North America.
Harry’s father and heir to the throne Prince Charles and his elder brother Prince William were to attend the meeting at the queen’s rural Sandringham estate in eastern England, a palace source said.
The shock announcement by Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, has exposed divisions in the Windsor family and prompted soul-searching over what it means to be royal in the 21st century.
The couple consulted neither the queen nor Charles on the announcement, made on Instagram and their own website, a step seen as impertinent and premature by a family whose roots go back through a thousand years of European history.
Meghan is currently in Canada with their infant son Archie. She may join the discussion by telephone.
She and Harry say they want a “progressive” new role for themselves and financial independence, which could mean working in the United States where Meghan is from.
But it is unclear how they will pull off a partial pullback from royal roles – which some media have dubbed “Megxit” in a play on Britain’s tortuous Brexit departure from the European Union – or who will pay for a transatlantic lifestyle.
The couple’s announcement has become a feast for British tabloid newspapers, with which Harry and Meghan have repeatedly clashed. Harry remains deeply affected by the hounding role the media played in the life and death of his mother, Princess Diana.
The newspapers have run a host of stories, based on quotes from unidentified royal insiders, about a split between Harry and William, the Duke of Cambridge, and anger at the top of the family amid suspicion of leaks and ostracism.
In a sign of the tensions, Harry and William issued a rare public statement on Monday to denounce a report by the Times newspaper based on an unnamed source which said Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by “a bullying attitude” from William who had not been welcoming to Meghan.
“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge,” the statement said.
“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.”
When the most powerful members of the so-called royal “Firm” meet at the queen’s Georgian mansion on Monday afternoon, Elizabeth, 93, and her son Charles, 71, will have to grapple with much more than family issues: their decisions could shape the monarchy’s future.
The queen will have to find a way to harness Harry and Meghan’s global appeal, especially among young people, while giving them the freedom they crave and ensuring the bill to the British taxpayer is as modest as possible.
Elizabeth has served the country loyally since ascending the throne in 1952, earning the respect and admiration of most Britons, including many republicans.
Her eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, has long sought a leaner royal family, though it is unclear how Harry and Meghan would fit into that model – especially if they essentially become Hollywood superstars.
The furore over the couple, who married last May in a glittering ceremony watched by millions round the world, comes after a tough 2019 for the royal family.
Prince Andrew’s friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein came under uncomfortable scrutiny while the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, 98, received a police warning over a car crash.
(Content and photos syndicated via Reuters)