UPDATE: Prince Harry to continue discussions with the queen as Meghan settles into new life in Canada
Bashiera Parker is Channel24's royal editor. Here, she breaks down what's next for Prince Harry and Meghan, after Queen Elizabeth's statement on Monday.
Cape Town – Queen Elizabeth released a statement on Monday night following discussions after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s bombshell announcement that they’d be stepping down as "senior members of the royal family".
"Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family," the queen said.
The discussions took place at Sandringham with Prince Harry arriving early to talk to his grandmother, before Prince Charles and Prince William joined in. A palace source confirmed that Meghan did not join the family discussion, as royal commentators expected she would.
THE QUEEN’S STATEMENT
Following the queen’s statement on Monday, many publications are pointing out the fact that the queen didn’t refer to the royals as the "Duke and Duchess of Sussex" but rather "Harry and Meghan", suggesting Her Majesty is stripping them of their titles. But further on, the queen does call them "the Sussexes".
Instead, the statement can be considered a deeply personal one though – and a statement such as this the queen doesn’t make too often – and the fact that she calls the royals by their names and refers to the prince as her "grandson" speaks to this.
"Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family," the queen added in her statement, "we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family."
The queen emphasised, as we suspected, that Harry and Meghan would continue to serve the monarchy, even if just in part. While they were stepping down as "senior royals", they are not entirely renouncing the royal family.
(THE QUEEN AND HER GRANDSON: Prince Harry stands alongside the queen as she greets guests during the 2017 Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Getty Images)
The queen reiterated Buckingham palace’s previous statement calling these "complex matters" on Monday.
"These are complex matters for my family to resolve," she said, before adding, "there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days."
With that, the royals have yet to hash out exactly what the next step is for Harry and Meghan as discussions are ongoing, but the queen did reveal a few more details, including that the royals may eventually take up permanent residence in Canada.
In the queen’s statement, Her Majesty spoke of a "period of transition" for the Sussex family in which they "will spend time in Canada and the UK" – but it’s the transition bit that has me thinking...
The Duchess of Sussex, of course, has ties to Canada where she stayed and spent a large portion of her life while filming Suits. Harry also has a strong connection to Canada, as ITV News breaks down, having visited the country for various royal engagements before he started dating Meghan and flying to see her. It, therefore, makes sense the couple would choose Canada to begin their new life – and the duchess has already started settling in.
The Duchess of Sussex has been spotted in and around town between spending time with Archie, family and friends. She’s been seen driving a Range Rover with security following behind her. She was spotted picking someone up from the airport recently that looked like her mom, Doria Ragland.
The queen’s mention of a "period of transition" leads me to reason that the move won’t happen immediately – and it may not even be for good. I suspect the couple will move between the UK, where they will stay at Frogmore Cottage, and Canada.
(A ROYAL THANK YOU: Meghan and Harry visited Canada House in the UK to thank the Canadian people for their hospitality and warmth while the Sussexes were on their six-week break in the country. This, before it was announced Canada would become their new home. Photo: Getty Images)
If the queen’s statement indicates anything, it’s that discussions are far from over. What will happen with the royal finances? How will Harry and Meghan represent the queen going forward? And to which degree?
The only information we really can take from the queen’s statement is that Her Majesty is indeed fully supporting Meghan and Harry while the royal family tries to create a space for them to thrive – a positive in a difficult situation for everyone that has just been made worse by the negative coverage of it.