The Duchess of Sussex has flown to Canada leaving Prince Harry in the UK to deal with the fallout from the couple’s announcement that they want to step down as ‘senior’ Royals.
Prince Harry’s office has begun urgent conversations with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William about what role he and Meghan should have and how they’re going to fund it.
Meghan flew to Canada shortly after the couple dropped their bombshell announcement to other members of the Royal Family on Wednesday evening.
Harry’s grandmother, father and brother only had a few minutes warning before the unprecedented statement was sent out to royal correspondents and made headline news in the UK and around the world.
While the initial response to the Sussex demands, which they had only floated with other Royals on their return from their ‘extended break’ in Canada, was one of frustration and shock, that gave way to a more practical mood on Thursday.
“It is not the pitch we wanted to be playing on”, a royal source said, “but it is the pitch we are currently on and we have to deal with that reality.”
It’s thought Meghan has returned to Canada - the country where she and Harry had just spent the last six weeks on an ‘extended family break’ from royal duties - to be reunited with baby Archie.
It’s not clear if he was left with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, or close friends of the couple, like the stylist Jessica Mulroney and her family.
However, her return flight to Canada was always part of the couple’s plan.
- Former chair of the public accounts committee Margaret Hodge says she respects Harry and Meghan's decision to step back from royal duties, following the "viciousness" faced by the Duchess. But maintains there needs to be "transparency" over royal earnings going forward.
Prince Harry’s main task now is to accelerate the detailed discussions with his family and senior courtiers.
The Queen has asked the most senior members of her family to conclude the discussions “at pace” and some initial decisions could be made public as early as next week.
She is in Sandringham, Prince Charles is at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate in Scotland while Prince William is in London.
Urgent phone calls were made throughout the day on Thursday and the negotiations will continue throughout the coming days.
The talk in royal circles was of “workable solutions” being ready within “days rather than weeks”.
William and Kate are planning their first big engagement of the year next week when they will travel to Bradford to discuss some issues very close to their hearts like social cohesion.
But until the Harry and Meghan row has been at least partially settled, all royal engagements will be overshadowed by the sudden new year family drama.
After licking their wounds on Wednesday, senior Royals decided they had to engage with the request by Duke and Duchess of Sussex to become ‘financially independent’ and spend half of their time in North America.
The Prince of Wales is understood to be putting his “shoulder to the wheel” according to a royal aide.
What is being worked through right now are issues like Harry and Meghan’s HRH titles, their funding (most of which comes from Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall estate), their security (paid for by publicly-funded police budgets), their charities and patronages, Harry’s military titles and the Sussex family accommodation.
The Duke and Duchess’ Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, which is owned by the Queen, was renovated at a cost of £2.4 million last year.
The money came from the public part of the royal finances, the Sovereign Grant.
The Sussexes say they want to continue to live at Frogmore, if they have the Queen’s permission to do so.
There is a great deal of work to be concluded in an institution not known for its love of speedy or dramatic decision-making.
But while Meghan is in Canada, she has tasked her husband with trying to resolve the Sussex-shaped crisis at the heart of the Royal Family.