Queen Elizabeth backs Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's part-time plans

Last Modified Tuesday, 14 January 2020 (11:37 IST)
has given permission to Prince Harry, and their son, Archie, to take on a "more independent life as a family." There will be a transition period for what some have dubbed the "Megxit."
Queen Elizabeth II and senior members of the British royal family held "very constructive" crisis talks at their rural Sandringham residence on Monday to resolve what the press is dubbing "Megxit."
 
In a sign of things to come, Meghan Markle had been expected to join the discussions via video link from Canada, where she, and their son, Archie, hope to spend more of their time going forward.
 
The couple caused shock and outrage in some corners last week with a statement announcing their intent — which hadn't been vetted or seen by Buckingham Palace beforehand.
 
"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 in a statement. "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."
 
'Complex matters'
 
Exactly what this change will mean, including how Harry and Meghan could rely less on public funds in the future, is not yet clear. Not even to the 93-year-old sovereign.
 
"These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days," the statement from the queen concluded.
 
Some of these will likely include:
 
How can the couple achieve "financial independence," and to what extent? Is there some work, for instance, that they shouldn't do? Meghan was a fairly well-known actor before meeting Harry; the 35-year-old prince's only job in the traditional sense was as a helicopter pilot in the British Army.
What parts of public spending around the couple — for example their security detail — might remain unavoidable going forward?
Where will they live? Will they retain their Frogmore House home in London, recently renovated on the taxpayers' pound?
Will residency in Canada, a country with a notoriously long waiting list for more typical migrants, prove in any way sensitive?
One matter that is not likely to change in the immediate term is the line of succession to the throne. Altering this would require an act of Parliament.
 
Harry's already only sixth in line — behind his father, Charles; his brother, William; and all three of William's children with Kate Middleton, including their daughter and second child, Charlotte, after the royal family's male-dominated line of succession was brought into the 20th century in 2011.
 
The likelihood that Harry would ever have taken his grandmother's place is and always was vanishingly small.
 
The warning signs
 
Not unlike his late mother, Princess Diana, Harry has shown himself to be both a troubled soul and often an unusually political animal by the royal family's standards. He has been comfortable and open discussing issues that some royals might shy away from in public: mental health, climate change, domestic violence, animal poaching, and even landmines and HIV/AIDS — both causes famously championed by Diana.
 
In December 2017, when he guest edited an episode of the early morning flagship political show on BBC Radio 4, Today, he chose to make the cornerstone of the program a feature interview with former US President Barack Obama.
 
Harry has also drawn stark comparisons between Diana's treatment in the press and the media attention piled on him, his celebrity wife and Archie, the newest addition to the royal family.
 
At the time, it felt more like a declaration of war on the British tabloid press, but some indications of the young family's struggles became apparent in an ITV documentary filmed during their trip to Africa in September. The visit was laden with symbolism for Harry, who was 12 when his mother died in a car crash in a Paris tunnel, pursued by paparazzi.
 
Harry walked the same, now transformed, street in Angola that his mother had on a visit that incredibly garnered criticism at home shortly before her death in 1997 — apparently supporting the removal of landmines was too political for some. Either that, or it was another excuse to pile on the recently divorced princess, who was not exactly flavor of the month in the buildup to her untimely demise.
 
"It's probably still a wound that festers," Harry told Bradby. "I think, being part of this family, part of this job, I think every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back. Everything that I do reminds me of her. But with the role, with the job, and the pressure that come with that, I get reminded of the bad stuff, unfortunately."
 
Harry also revealed a slight rift with his elder brother, saying "we're probably on different paths at the moment," albeit adding that only some of the rumors had any weight, while "the majority of the stuff is created out of nothing."
 
Now that he had a family of his own to protect, Harry said, he would not be "bullied into playing the game that killed my mum."
 
As the visit to Africa concluded, Harry and Meghan would launch the first of several lawsuits against the British press for some of the coverage.
 
Meghan, meanwhile, told Bradby on the last night of their trip that she had been taken aback by the scale of the media interest in her marriage, her past and her newborn son.
 
"It's hard," Meghan said. "I had no idea, which probably sounds difficult to understand here," she added. "But, when I first met my now husband, my friends were happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me: 'I'm sure he's great, but you shouldn't do it, because the British tabloids will destroy your life.' Very naively, I said: 'What are you talking about?' ... I didn't get it. So, it's, yeah, it's been complicated."
 
Adding these pressures to a new marriage, then a pregnancy and, finally, a newborn, had proven a challenge, Meghan said.
 
"Also, thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I'm okay, but it's, erm, it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes," she added. Pushed by Bradby on whether that meant the answer was that she was "not really okay, that it's really been a struggle," the Duchess of Sussex responded "yes."
 
As if to prove the points made by Meghan and Harry, global media attention has been feverish as they attempt to move away from the royal limelight and shows little sign of abating.