Queen not informed before Meghan and Harry's bombshell announcement

  • Video report by ITV News Royal Correspondent Chris Ship

The world is still reeling from the shock announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan will be quitting the Royal Family, with the Queen not even informed of the decision before it was publicly announced.

The couple announced through a personal message they plan to "step back" as senior royals and divide their time between the UK and North America.

However it is understood neither the monarch, nor Prince Charles or Prince William were told in advance this statement was due to be issued.

Senior royals are said to have been left "hurt" and "deeply disappointed" by the announcement.

The monarch, Prince Charles and Prince William were not informed of the decision. Credit: PA

Harry and Meghan said in their ground-breaking personal statement they will work to become "financially independent", while continuing to "fully support" the Queen.

A palace response was rushed out shortly after the couple made their statement public.

"Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage," a palace spokeswoman said.

"We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."

ITV News Presenter Tom Bradby, who filmed a documentary with the couple during their tour of Africa last summer, spoke about how the couple's desire to leave the front line of royal duties was not totally unknown to senior members of the family; but their timing was.

"It's certainly not true to say the palace were blindsided by this," he said.

"The couple's view was they came back and wanted to talk to the family about their plans. It had been made clear to them in their absence there was going to be a slimmed down monarchy and they weren't really a part of it."

He went on to say how the couple were asked to put down their suggestions on paper - but initially declined to do so for fear of a press leak. When that did happen, and the news leaked, the couple then decided to go public with their decision, sending ripples through the family firm.

Prince Harry cuddles baby son Archie during their Christmas stay in Canada. Credit: @sussexroyal

Royal historian Anna Whitelock said the palace will be left "reeling" by the decision and are now in "catch-up" mode.

She said: "That statement from Buckingham Palace is pretty unprecedented, the Royal Family are always at pains not to reveal emotions, to stay very measured in any statements they make, but they talk about disappointment and they talk about hurt, and that's pretty much as far as it's ever gone really.

"This shows that they are pretty devastated by this and surprised, I mean the timing, the lack of consultation, and also this unveiling of a separate brand, Sussex Royal, the launch of a website, it's all pretty quick, pretty remarkable and they are reeling here, there is no doubt about that."

The couple have only just returned from their six-week trip, where they visited Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.

The Sussex's financial aims have been outlined on their new official Sussex Royal website, which states the couple "...value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing. For this reason they have made the choice to become members of the royal family with financial independence."

Prince Harry and Meghan will continue to stay at Frogmore Cottage when in the UK, which was renovated at a cost of £2.4 million to the taxpayer last year.

While they plan to have a new relationship with the UK media and will not longer be part of the "royal rota" - a system used by the palace for decades.

Prince Harry and Meghan will be 'stepping away' from their senior royal duties. Credit: PA

Harry's friend Dean Stott said he was not left "shocked" or "surprised" by the decision, as it was one made "over the last few months."

He told ITV News: "Harry is an independent person, he has always been a part of the royal family, Meghan has been introduced to that circle, obviously the first person people would target is Meghan.

"He has made decisions that are right for him and his family now being Archie and Meghan.

"He is carving his own path, he has his own family, they are public figures, they can do so much good, probably away from those royal constraints."

While Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said the couple have been through some "terrible times" and had "appalling media intrusion."

"I think we should let this young family make their own decisions about what is best for them.

"We mustn't forget that Harry has done a great deal of service to our country, not least on two tours in Afghanistan when he put this life on the line.

"He is a brave young man, he has done a great deal for our country, if he and his wife and his child decide the best thing to do is for them to take a step back, they they should be allowed to do that."

The couple have previously spoke about the pressures they have been facing and family rifts, and in a separate move Harry issued a damning statement against the media accusing sections of the press of bullying his wife.

In an ITV documentary with Tom Bradby, Meghan said: “It’s not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life. You have got to thrive.”

  • Natalia Jorquera explains what next for Harry and Meghan after they step back from front line duties