Queen Elizabeth has given her blessing to her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s wish for a more independent future after an urgent meeting on Monday to resolve the rift in the British royal family.
Harry and his American actress wife Meghan triggered the crisis by announcing last week that they wished to step back from royal duties and spend more time in North America.
After a meeting at the queen's rural Sandringham estate in eastern England also attended by Harry's father and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, and his elder brother, Prince William, the 93-year-old Elizabeth said the family supported the couple’s plans.
“Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family,” the monarch said in a statement.
“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK." Last week's shock announcement by Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, exposed divisions in the Windsor family and prompted soul-searching over what it means to be royal in the 21st century.
The couple consulted neither the queen nor Charles before their announcement, made on Instagram and their own website, a step seen as impertinent and premature by a family whose roots go back through a thousand years of European history.
Meghan is currently in Canada with their infant son Archie.