Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England, Sunday Jan. 12, 2020. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have declared they will “work to become financially independent” as part of a surprise announcement saying they wish “to step back” as senior members of the royal family. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

Queen attends church on eve of meeting over Harry and Meghan

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, made a decision to walk away from royal roles

Queen Elizabeth II attended church at her Sandringham estate Sunday ahead of a crisis meeting to work out a future for Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, after their shocking decision to walk away from royal roles.

While the monarch searched for a way forward, supporters of her family’s feuding factions used the British media to paint conflicting pictures of who was to blame for the royal rift.

Royal officials said the queen had summoned her grandson Harry, his elder brother, Prince William, and their father, Prince Charles, to the rural retreat 100 miles (160 kilometres) north of London, for a meeting on Monday.

The summit 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.

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

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 palace said the goal was to agree on next steps at Monday’s gathering, which follows days of talks among royal courtiers, though “any decision will take time to be implemented.”

Among the details that need to be worked out are who will pay for the couple’s currently taxpayer-funded security, what money-making activities they can undertake and what the tax consequences would be of moving to Canada or the United States.

“The queen has said she wants it done really fast, and that is because she doesn’t want Harry to go off in a huff, I am sure, and not come back,” royal biographer Angela Levin told Sky News. “They want to maintain the link of the family. It would be an absolute tragedy if it was done with a very bad feeling.”

However, evidence of bad feeling in the royal clan was spread across the pages of Britain’s newspapers. The Sunday Times reported that William was sad that he and Harry were now “separate entities” because he wanted “everyone to play on the same team.”

READ MORE: Meghan returns to Canada as royal courtiers chart path for independence

While royal officials say the queen was “hurt” by the surprise announcement, friends of Harry and Meghan say the couple felt they were being pushed aside because of the family’s desire to focus on those in the line of succession — Prince Charles, William and William’s son George.

Tom Bradby, a TV journalist who is close to Harry and Meghan, warned in the Sunday Times that the royal family badly needed a peace deal to prevent “a protracted war” that could damage the monarchy.

“I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred, sit-down interview (by Harry and Meghan) and I don’t think it would be pretty,” he wrote.

Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, married American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in 2018, and their son was born in May 2019.

While many praised the couple for injecting youth and glamour into the royal family, last week’s announcement marked an explosive turn in the growing rift between them and the rest of the clan. Harry said in an October interview that he and William — destined one day to be king — were on “different paths.”

It also came amid the couple’s growing unhappiness about their treatment by the media. Harry, who blames the press for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a Paris car crash in 1997, has long chafed at the intense scrutiny he receives. The couple have sued several newspapers over allegedly intrusive coverage, and Harry has accused the media of targeting the biracial Meghan with abuse, some of it with “racial undertones.”

The couple’s decision to distance themselves from the royal family has drawn a mixed reaction. Many Britons expressed sympathy for Meghan and Harry but said they should not receive taxpayer-funded security if they do not perform public duties.

There was near-universal sympathy, however, for the 93-year-old queen.

“I feel desperately sorry for her,” said 70-year-old Jean Acton, who gathered with other local people to watch the monarch arrive at St. Mary Magdalene church. “It must be horrible — for any parent, let alone if you’re a royal or not.”

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay Police Chief Const. Andy Brinton passes the torch this summer

Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties to take over position in September

Victoria Police see new trends in calls due to COVID-19

Police link jump in domestic, mental health calls to pandemic

VIDEO: Musician stays physically distant in courtyard show for Langford retirees

Bob Nelson found a way to continue to play for retirement community residents

COVID-19: Health care workers seek alternative housing options to prevent families from getting sick

Volunteers, residents and businesses step up to provide frontline workers with alternative housing

BC Parks Foundation organizes virtual picnic for the province

Join a B.C.-wide picnic online Saturday, March 28

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach youngster gets car parade for his sixth birthday

Friends get creative after party cancelled due to ongoing pandemic

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help locating 17-year-old girl believed to be with 36-year-old man

Mary Cyprich, missing since Thurday, might be in company of Force Forsythe

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Most Read