Royal Family meets for crisis talks at Sandringham

Monday - 13/01/2020 12:10
Princes William and Harry slam 'inflammatory language' in media reports amid Royal Family rift

Queen Elizabeth says the royals have had "constructive" discussions about what the future holds for Prince Harry and Meghan.

The face-to-face talks come after Harry and Meghan unveiled their controversial plan to walk away from royal roles — holding a dramatic family summit meant to chart a future course for the couple.

"Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives," a statement said. 

"It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the U.K

More to come. Read the background below:

The meeting reflects the Queen's desire to contain the fallout from Harry and Meghan's decision to "step back" as senior royals, work to become financially independent, and split their time between Britain and North America. The couple, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made the announcement Wednesday without telling the Queen or other senior royals first.

Before the extraordinary session, Princes William and Harry took the equally unusual step of issuing a statement challenging the accuracy of a newspaper report that there was a severe strain on the relationship between the brothers.

"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.

Though the statement did not name the newspaper, the Times of London has a front-page story about the crisis in which a source alleged Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by the "bullying attitude from" William. The joint statement insisted the story was "false."

The meeting at the monarch's private Sandringham estate in eastern England will include William as well as the brothers' father, Prince Charles. It comes after days of intense news coverage in which supporters of the Royal Family's feuding factions used the British media to paint conflicting pictures of who was to blame for the rift.

William is expected to travel to Sandringham from London and Harry from his home in Windsor, west of the British capital. Charles has flown back from the Gulf nation of Oman, where he attended a condolence ceremony Sunday following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Prince Harry arrives with his best man, Prince William, ahead of Harry and Meghan's wedding. The pair issued a rare statement Monday denouncing reporting about the state of their relationship. (Ben Stansall/Reuters)
Prince Harry arrives with his best man, Prince William, ahead of Harry and Meghan's wedding. The pair issued a rare statement Monday denouncing reporting about the state of their relationship. (Ben Stansall/Reuters)

Meghan, who is in Canada with the couple's baby son Archie, is likely to join the meeting by phone.

Buckingham Palace said "a range of possibilities" would be discussed, but the Queen was determined to resolve the situation within "days, not weeks." The goal was to agree on next steps at Monday's gathering, which follows days of talks among royal courtiers and officials from the U.K. and Canada. Buckingham Palace stressed, however, that "any decision will take time to be implemented."

One of the more fraught questions that needs to be worked out is precisely what it means for a royal to be financially independent and what activities can be undertaken to make money. Other royals who have ventured into the world of commerce have found it complicated.

Prince Andrew, for example, has faced heated questions about his relationship with the late convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew, the Queen's second son, has relinquished royal duties and patronages after being accused by a woman who says she was an Epstein trafficking victim who slept with the prince.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also face questions on paying for taxpayer-funded security. Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to comment, but said safety was a priority.

"I'm not going to provide any detailed information on the security arrangements for either them or any members of the royal family or for any protected individuals — that's thoroughly inappropriate for me to do so," she told the BBC. "At this moment in time, right now, the royal family themselves need some time and space for them to work through the current issues that they're dealing with."

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he doesn't "comment on stuff to do with the Royal Family." 

In Canada, the Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on questions involving security for the royals. CBC News also reached out to the RCMP for comment, but has not yet heard back from the police force.     

WATCH: Torontonians react to the latest news from the royals.

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 Keywords: British Royal Family

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