Queen Elizabeth Speaks Out on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Departure After 2-Hour Family Summit

Queen Elizabeth has released a groundbreaking statement after the royal family’s summit in Sandringham to discuss Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step down as senior royals. The meeting came to an end after a two-and-a-half-hour discussion on Monday.

“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family,” the Queen said in a statement. “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. 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.

“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. 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.”

Palace sources told PEOPLE that the Queen ordered Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles to meet at her country home on Monday in order to “talk things through.” Meghan was thought to have called in from Canada.

A source said it was likely Meghan would participate in the discussion on Monday via phone, as she recently returned to Vancouver Island, Canada, where she and Harry spent the holidays together with their son Archie.

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, shocked the world with their decision to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family” last week. They revealed their plans to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they wrote in a statement on Instagram.

An insider told PEOPLE that Meghan and Harry’s decision left senior royals “hurt” and “deeply disappointed.”

Royal historian and biographer of the Queen, Robert Lacey, tells PEOPLE: “It was incredibly personal. I can’t recall a royal statement where one gets the sense so much of the Queen herself speaking. Using phrases like ‘my family and I’ is very moving. It clearly shows her wish to resolve everything.”

Adds Ingrid Seward, the Queen’s biographer: “It’s deliberately very vague and doesn’t tell us much apart from Harry and Meghan have won the first round. I’ve never seen a statement like that in 30 years. It was very personal and sounds very sad.”

The unprecedented family summit follows a series of emergency discussions across the last few days and raises the prospect that a solution is in sight that will work for the Sussexes and the royal family.

“There is a range of possibilities for the family to review which take into account the thinking the Sussexes outlined earlier in the week,” the source said.

“As we have said previously, making a change to the working life and role of the monarchy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex requires complex and thoughtful discussions. Next steps will be agreed at the meeting,” the source shared. “The request for this to be resolved ‘at pace’ is still Her Majesty’s wish. The aim remains days not weeks. There is genuine agreement and understanding that any decision will take time to be implemented.”

The meeting was the first time they had all been together since Remembrance Day weekend in November.

The previous discussions that have been taking place between the households of the Queen, Charles, William and Harry and Meghan have also involved the U.K. and Canadian governments.

“There is a range of possibilities for the family to review,” the source reiterated.

The Duke of Sussex‘s close friend JJ Chalmers has said the royal made the decision in order to “protect his family.”

“He’s less the captain in the army I knew, and he’s more a father,” JJ Chalmers, who met Harry while they were both serving in the military, said during an appearance on the UK show The One Show on Friday.

“And I think the decision that he has made, at the forefront of that is to protect his family, because that’s the number one rule is to be a father and to be a husband,” Chalmers added, noting that tensions with the media also played a role.

The couple’s friend Tom Bradby has warned that should a suitable solution not be reached, the royal couple could give a “no-holds-barred interview.”

“I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred sit down interview and I don’t think it would be pretty,” Brady, a journalist who toured southern Africa with the royal couple for the emotional ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, wrote for The Sunday Times.

Shortly after, palace insiders denied claims that Harry and Meghan were being “driven out” of royal life.

Harry and William released a statement denying a U.K. newspaper’s story that the rift between the brothers was allegedly caused by William’s “bullying.” In a joint statement obtained by PEOPLE, Harry and William insisted that the story, which was run by the Times of London, was false.

“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a U.K. newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge,” the statement said.

“For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful,” it continued.

William has also privately expressed “sadness” over the distance that has grown between him and his brother.

“I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities,” William told a friend, according to The Sunday Times.

However, the royal also hopes the rift can be repaired in time.

“All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope that the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the team,” he said, according to the friend.

Source: People.com

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Skipping Christmas with the Royal Family This Year

It’ll be a non-royal Christmas for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are skipping the annual holiday festivities at Sandringham — including their public walk to church on Christmas morning — with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Wednesday. “Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, Their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria Ragland. This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen.”

The palace didn’t specify where they will be ringing in the holiday, but a source tells PEOPLE that they will not be spending it in Meghan’s hometown of Los Angeles, where Doria lives.

Meghan, 38, made her royal Christmas debut in 2017 shortly after she and Prince Harry, 35, announced their engagement. While pregnant with Archie, who the couple welcomed in May, they appeared alongside Prince William and Kate Middleton again last year.

Kate and William, both 37, previously spent Christmas away from Sandringham and the royal family’s annual celebrations. In 2016, they opted to spend the holiday with Kate’s family — and Prince George and Princess Charlotte were spotted attending a church service near Kate’s childhood home in Bucklebury.

Kate, William and their two children walked to St. Mark’s Church in Englefield with the Middleton family. Kate looked glamorous in a burgundy coat with matching fur trim while William kept it conservative in a suit and navy blue coat. Meanwhile, the children looked adorable in their Christmas church ensembles — George in a knee-length Pepa & Co. coat with coordinating knee socks and Charlotte in a dark coat with red tights and a matching bow. George also wore maroon shorts under his coats — matching dad’s tie.

Both of the children were spotted sucking on candy canes as they held their parents hands outside the church. At one point, Charlotte tried to use her tiny candy cane like a walking cane.

The royal children — and their little brother Prince Louis, 1 — have yet to make their royal Christmas debut.

Harry recently opened up about his relationship with his brother William in his emotionally wrenching ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.

Speaking about the pressures of their jobs in the royal family, Harry said, “Inevitably stuff happens. But we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment. I’ll always be there for him and as I know, he’ll always be there for me. We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy but I love him dearly.”

The father of one added, “The majority of stuff is created out of nothing. As brothers, we have good days and we have bad days.”

Back in April, an insider told PEOPLE that William and Harry “are at very different situations in their lives.”

According to the insider, the two were always destined for different paths. Harry, who leads with his instincts, sees his older brother as being hemmed in by protocol as the future monarch.

Their different approach to life was evident as Harry’s relationship with Meghan grew more serious. Multiple sources told PEOPLE that tensions between the brothers deepened back when Harry first told his family he wanted to marry Meghan after less than a year of dating.

The insider said William — who dated Kate, his college sweetheart, for about eight years before tying the knot — cautioned Harry that things were moving too quickly, leaving Harry angry and hurt.

It was previously revealed that Meghan and Harry will take about six weeks off towards the end of the year to spend some valuable “family time” together amid their concerns that the intense scrutiny they’ve faced has been tough on the couple.

“The duke and duchess have a full schedule of engagements and commitments until mid-November, after which they will be taking some much-needed family time,” a royal source confirmed to PEOPLE.

In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — who conducted Meghan and Harry’s royal wedding last year — said the parents are “entitled” to some time off from royal duty.

“All members of the royal family are under a pressure that none of us outside it can possibly imagine,” Welby, 63, told the newspaper. “Every personal action is scrutinized. Every statement is over-interpreted, over-read.”

According to the Times, Welby has a “close personal relationship” with the couple.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are going to take a couple of months away from royal duties … If you look at it as a job, they didn’t take the full allowance of leave that you’re entitled to; every person is entitled to,” he said.

“I don’t know why it should be a point of criticism that they take leave to spend time with a new baby in the way that the law provides for every single employee in this country,” Welby shared.

“They’re not superhuman,” Welby added. “They’re a very remarkable group of people, all of them. But you can’t lay that kind of extra burden on people.”

Source: People.com