Prince Harry defied clear instructions from the Queen not to announce that he and Meghan are to quit as “senior” royals, the Evening Standard has been told.
The Queen made it clear to her grandson that he should not proceed with any announcement this week about his future after he requested a meeting with her at Sandringham, according to senior sources.
The Duke of Sussex’s apparent refusal to comply with an explicit request from the head of the royal family will help to explain the unprecedented expressions of “hurt” and “disappointment” from the palace over last night’s statement.
The Standard has also been told that Prince William tried to build bridges with his brother in the autumn shortly after the airing of an ITV documentary about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in October.
It is understood that William wanted to visit Harry at his Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, but the meeting never happened.
The Standard has learned of the dramatic sequence of events that led to the sixth in line to the throne effectively resigning from his frontline role “after many months of reflection and internal discussions” in the Sussexes’ bombshell announcement last night.
But the Sussexes believe they are helping to deliver a slimmed-down monarchy and that they believe they have the ability to reach out to a younger and more diverse audience than other members of the royal family.
There has been speculation at Buckingham Palace that Harry, 35, and his former actress wife, 38, might have already started discussions on future commercial deals.
One source was quoted saying: “Meghan really wants to live in California, it’s where she is from and where her mother lives. She likes the lifestyle and the privacy there.”
Meanwhile, in a statement to American celebrity magazine US Weekly, Thomas Markle, Meghan’s estranged father, reportedly said he was “disappointed” with his daughter’s decision to step away from the royal family.
Last night’s statement said the couple plan to balance their time between the UK and North America while “continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages”.
It continued: “This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”
The statement was met with a terse response from Buckingham Palace, which said discussions with the duke and duchess on their decision to step back were “at an early stage”, adding: “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
The latest crisis to rock the royal family came after the Sussexes took a long break from their duties to spend some time in Canada with their son, who was born in May.
They visited Canada’s High Commission in London on Tuesday to thank the country for hosting them and said the warmth and hospitality they received was “unbelievable”.
During the visit, Meghan said it was an “incredible time” to enjoy the “beauty of Canada”, adding: “To see Archie go ‘ah’ when you walk by, and just see how stunning it is — so it meant a lot to us.”
She lived and worked in Toronto during her time in the popular US show Suits, and she has several Canadian friends.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently returned to England — but their 8-month-old son Archie wasn’t with them.
PEOPLE understands that Archie remained in Canada while the couple flew to London, where they made their first appearance of the new year at Canada House on Tuesday to thank the country for hosting them during their holiday getaway. Meghan, 38, and Prince Harry, 35, plan to return to Canada and reunite with their son soon.
It is believed that Archie stayed with Meghan’s close pal Jessica Mulroney, whose three children served as page boys and a flower girl in the couple’s royal wedding in May 2018. Shortly after the couple made their shocking announcement that they intended to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family” in order to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution” on Wednesday, Jessica appeared to voice her support via an Instagram post.
The Canadian stylist shared a quote from American filmmaker Gina Carey: “A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.”
Harry, Meghan and Archie spent Thanksgiving and Christmas on Vancouver Island, where they had valuable time with Meghan’s mom Doria Ragland and close friends who came to visit them at their remote vacation home.
It was there that the couple posed for their family Christmas greetings and an adorable photo — taken by Meghan — of proud dad Harry and little Archie were captured.
Meghan Markle has a voiceover deal on an unspecified Disney project in return for a donation to an elephant charity.
The deal, which will benefit the conservation charity Elephants Without Borders, was signed before the recent uproar over Markle and husband Prince Harry’s plans to disengage from the Royal Family and pursue other opportunities. The Times of London reported the deal.
The voiceover deal may be a prelude to future endeavors for the family, which has trademarked the Sussex Royal brand name.
Negotiations on the couple’s exit plan from Royal duties continues. Markle is in Canada, while Prince Harry is negotiating with the Royal family.
Queen Elizabeth has reportedly called an emergency family meeting to “talk things through” following news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are stepping back from the royal family.
The meeting, reported firsthand from People, BAZAAR.com’s Royal Editor at Large Omid Scobie and others, will take place on Monday at Sandringham in Norfolk, Queen Elizabeth’s country home. The face-to-face will be intimate, limited to Harry, his brother Prince William, his grandmother Queen Elizabeth, and his father Prince Charles. Markle, who is currently in Canada, will likely join the conversation via phone.
“Following a series of meetings and consultations across the last few days, there is a range of possibilities for the family to review which take into account the thinking the Sussexes outlined earlier in the week,” a source told People.
That source added, “As we have said previously, making a change to the working life and role of the monarchy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex requires complex and thoughtful discussions. Next steps will be agreed at the meeting. The request for this to be resolved ‘at pace’ is still Her Majesty’s wish. The aim remains days not weeks. There is genuine agreement and understanding that any decision will take time to be implemented.”