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Queen joined by Prince Andrew at church as Harry and Meghan step back from royal life

Prince Andrew joined the Queen at church. Credit: PA

The Queen has made her first appearance following the announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be stepping back from the royal family.

Prince Andrew joined the Queen at St Mary the Virgin church in Norfolk to attend a Sunday service.

In a statement issued after royal family talks concluded on Saturday, Prince Harry and Meghan announced they will stop carrying out royal duties from the spring, no longer use their HRH titles and will repay £2.4 million of taxpayers' money spent on renovating their home, Frogmore Cottage.

The announcements from the young royals have raised fresh questions about Andrew’s ongoing role in the royal family, particularly around his continued use of the HRH title and his security.

Meanwhile, Meghan's father, Thomas Markle, who may be called to give evidence against his daughter in the couple's legal battle with a newspaper, said the decision to split from the royal family was "disappointing" and "embarrassing" and described their new status as "like Walmart, with a crown on".

Speaking in Mexico for a documentary for Channel 5, Mr Markle said Harry and Meghan were "destroying" and "cheapening" the royal family with their decision.

Thomas Markle said Harry and Meghan are 'destroying' the royal family with their decision. Credit: PA

"When they got married they took on an obligation, and the obligation is to be part of the royals and to represent the royals, and it would be foolish of them not to," Mr Markle said.

"This is one of the greatest long-living institutions ever.

"They are destroying it, they are cheapening it, making it shabby.

"They're turning it into a Walmart with a crown on it now.

"It's something that's ridiculous, they shouldn't be doing this."

The 75-year-old, who did not attend the royals' wedding and has never met his grandson, Archie, added that he has no hopes of reconnecting with his daughter.

"I can't see her reaching out to me, especially now, and in light of what I'm saying now, she probably won't, or Harry for that matter.

"But I think both of them are turning into lost souls at this point.

"I don't know what they're looking for.

"I don't think they know what they are looking for."

Harry and Meghan will no longer take part in royal duties. Credit: PA

Mr Markle's comments came after the Queen announced the outcome of discussions on the Sussexes' future on Saturday night.

In a statement, the Queen said: “Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.

"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.”

Buckingham Palace said under the new arrangement agreed with Harry and Meghan they are “required to step back from royal duties” and will no longer receive public funds for royal duties, adding: “This new model will take effect in the Spring of 2020.”

A full statement from Her Majesty The Queen said: "I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.

"I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.

"It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life."

So what does the announcement mean?

  • The couple have effectively stepped down not just as senior royals, but as working royals in general
  • Buckingham Palace have said they will no longer receive public funds for royal duties, as they will no longer be carrying out any, including overseas tours
  • They will the earn their own money, but the Prince of Wales will also continue to offer private financial support to the couple. This is expected to come from his £21 million a year Duchy of Cornwall income
  • Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on whether Meghan and Harry will have to pay for their own security but said "there are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly funded security"
  • The couple will pay back £2.4 million in taxpayers' money which was used to renovate Frogmore Cottage, but will use it as their base when they return to the UK, paying rent at a commercial rate on the property
  • Harry will sever his official ties to the military

Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "sure" the royal family would "find a way forward" and that the "whole country will want to join me in wishing them [Harry and Meghan] the very best for the future".

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports that the couple will spend the majority of their time in North America and not the UK, with their "transition period" spent largely in Canada.

He added: "Prince Charles will continue to fund Harry and Meghan from his private income from the Duchy of Cornwall - but I've had no clarification on how much that will be.

"So Harry and Meghan are free to seek employment but they have pledged that they will always uphold the values of Her Majesty The Queen in those commercial deals."

The announcements from the young royals have raised fresh questions about Andrew’s ongoing role in the royal family.

The Duke of York stepped down from royal duties and resigned a large number of patronages in November following his disastrous Newsnight interview over his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

However, Andrew has so-far kept his HRH title.

He reportedly faces changes to his security in the wake of Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave the monarchy and split their time between the UK and Canada.

The Evening Standard reported the Home Office is recommending a major downgrade of security for the Queen’s second son after a Scotland Yard review.

Harry and Meghan, like Andrew, have personal protection officers from the Metropolitan Police, paid for by taxpayers.

But the change in roles for the Sussexes, relocation and removal of public funds, meant their security and its funding formed part of the crisis talks.

Prince Andrew accompanied the Queen to church on Sunday. Credit: PA

Saturday's agreement follows a historic meeting at the Queen's private Sandringham estate on Monday, where Prince Harry met with his grandmother, Prince Charles and Prince William for the first since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were "stepping down" as senior royals.

Meghan, who was rumoured at one point to be dialling in from across the Atlantic, did not take part in Monday’s Sandringham meeting.

Meghan has been in Canada with the couple's baby son Archie since shortly after the news broke after just a few days in London, following an extended festive break in British Columbia.

The royal crisis has engulfed the Royal Family since Harry and Meghan released a statement on Instagram outlining their decision to begin a new life away from palace constraints and become "financially independent."

The Queen called a meeting at Sandringham estate to discuss the 'Sussex situation'. Credit: PA

The Duke and Duchess' statement – and a new official Sussexroyal.com website – threw up important questions about funding for the couple’s round-the-clock security, media access to their royal events and how they will pay for their future lifestyles.

Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on whether Meghan and Harry will have to pay for their own security but said "there are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly funded security".

Keeping the royals safe costs around £100 million, Royal Finance expert David McClure said, adding that the security for Harry and Meghan alone probably costs "millions".

Other important issues to resolve include who will pay for the substantial security cost of protecting the couple and their baby son when they are not in the UK.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday there have been "no discussions" about the details of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's move to the country.