Palace publicly warns Prince Harry and Meghan Markle over plans to quit royal family

Stepping back from front-line royal duties ‘complicated’, spokesperson says

Jon Sharman,Harriet Hall
Wednesday 08 January 2020 21:24 GMT
ITV documentary maker reveals how vulnerable Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seemed

Buckingham Palace has publicly poured cold water on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s announcement that they are quitting front-line royal duties, saying the family’s plans were not finalised.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on their Instagram account, Sussex Royal, that they were going to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family” and try to become financially independent.

In a new public statement, the palace said discussions on the issue remained “at an early stage”.

A spokesperson added: “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.’’

The Independent understands that the mood at Buckingham Palace is one of disappointment and that other members of the royal family were not consulted on the content of the statement

The Sussexes made their announcement amid a storm of speculation that they were planning a move to Canada, which was not denied by the palace.

In their Instagram statement, the couple told their followers they wanted to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution”.

They added: “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.

“It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.

“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.

“This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.

“We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”

Responding to Buckingham Palace’s move to issue a rival statement, royal commentator Sally Baker told The Independent: “They’ve been away for six weeks in Canada working out what they want to do with their lives and they’ve made an announcement. It’s clear they didn’t consult anyone about it.

“Now the palace is trying to take away from their announcement. It looks like the royal family is in trouble.”

Royal photographer Ian Lloyd said: “I am not surprised. People have been speculating that it could happen for some time and perhaps their spell in Canada gave them time to think about their future.”

“If they didn’t consult the Queen, it’s not a good sign,” novelist and broadcaster Sarah Gristwood told The Independent. ”And it is a major breach of protocol.”

The royal couple visited Vancouver for a six-week holiday over Christmas, choosing to spend the festive season with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland.

On their return they made their first public appearance since Remembrance Day at Canada House, the Canadian embassy in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The royals met with commission staff and Janice Charette, high commissioner for Canada in the UK, to thank them for the hospitality and support they received during their stay abroad.

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