- Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship
The Queen was not informed of the decision by Harry and Meghan to quit the Royal Family.
So rushed was the “personal message” from the office of Harry and Meghan, other royal households were taken by complete surprise at its significant content and its timing.
Neither Prince Charles nor Prince William were told in advance.
They too were blindsided.
It left the rest of the Royal Family “deeply disappointed” with the move by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The couple had only just returned from their six week break from royal duties.
The Sussexes had spent the time with their baby son, Archie, on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.
On Wednesday, they decided to make a very public display of thanks to Canada – by going to the Canadian High Commission in London – after their very private time away.
They had clearly spent it doing a lot of thinking about their future – and whether it was one which included staying in the Royal Family.
But the decision has far-reaching consequences and none has yet been worked out by senior courtiers.
It explains the short, hurried and rather terse statement from Buckingham Palace last night saying simply that the ‘discussions’ with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were at ‘an early stage’ and the ‘complicated issues’ would take time to ‘work through’.
In other words, no one in the royal households has any idea how to make this happen – or if it can happen at all.
So it didn’t take long to sense the anger from other corners of the Family.
A Palace source accused Harry and Meghan’s of ‘blurting out’ their public statement ‘without the Sovereign’s blessing’.
The idea of some kind of declaration of independence by the Sussexes had been floated – but only in the last day or two.
The Sussexes were accused of doing it ‘without consultation’.
However, it’s understood Harry and Meghan wanted to announce their plans when they attended the Canadian High Commission on Tuesday but were persuaded not to.
They were angered that the plans had been leaked to the Sun newspaper on Wednesday morning and it appears they decided to make their announcement on their own terms.
The development leaves the Royal Family in a very difficult place.
Courtiers now have to find a way to accommodate Harry and Meghan’s wishes to spend part of their time in the UK and part of it in Canada.
Who pays for their UK-funded security personnel?
Do they continue to live at Frogmore Cottage, which was renovated at a cost of more than £2 million from the Sovereign Grant – the royal funds which come from the Treasury.
And what about their titles or their plans to launch their charitable Sussex Foundation?
And how do the Duke and Duchess plan to become ‘financially independent’?
There is much to sort out and it will now have to be done in an even more tense atmosphere between the Sussexes and the rest of the Royal Family.
“Perhaps they should have done it discreetly,” a royal source said, “and worked out the detail before making this statement.”