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

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Haida hereditary chief is BC Liberal Candidate for North Coast Region

Roy Jones Jr. is named BC Liberal MLA candidate for the North Coast

$3.4 million childcare centre to be built in Lax Kw’alaams

Lax Kw’alaams funding has been approved through the provincial New Spaces Fund

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

Ecosocialists nominate candidate for Stikine

Edward Quinlan is the new party’s regional director for Skeena and Bulkley Valley regions

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read