Queen prepares for summit over 'Megxit'


Queen Elizabeth II being greeted by her grandson the Duke of Sussex. The Queen will host crisis talks with senior royals and the Duke of Sussex on Monday in a bid to find a solution to Meghan and Harry's future roles (Julian Simmonds/The Daily Telegraph/PA Wire)

Ensconced with aides at her royal retreat, Queen Elizabeth is preparing for a crisis family meeting to work out a future for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan after their dramatic decision to walk away from royal roles.

Wellwishers cheered the monarch on Sunday as she made her weekly trip to a church at her Sandringham estate in eastern England. Meanwhile, supporters of the royal family's feuding factions used the British media to paint conflicting pictures of who was to blame for the rift.

Royal officials said the Queen had summoned Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles to Sandringham, 160 kilometres north of London, for a meeting on Monday.

The summit reflects the Queen's desire to contain the fallout from Harry and Meghan's decision to "step back" as senior royals, work to become financially independent and split their time between Britain and North America.

The couple made the announcement on Wednesday without telling the Queen or other senior royals first.

Meghan, who is in Canada with the couple's baby son Archie, is likely to join the meeting by phone.

Buckingham Palace said "a range of possibilities" would be discussed, but the Queen was determined to resolve the situation within "days, not weeks".

The palace said the goal was to agree on next steps at Monday's gathering, which follows days of talks among royal courtiers and officials from the UK and Canada. Buckingham Palace stressed, however, that "any decision will take time to be implemented".

Among the details that need to be worked out are who will pay for the couple's currently taxpayer-funded security, what money-making activities they can undertake and what the tax consequences would be of moving to Canada or the United States.

Evidence of bad feeling in the royal clan was spread across the pages of Britain's newspapers. The Sunday Times reported that William had told a friend he was sad that he and Harry were now "separate entities" because he wanted "everyone to play on the same team".

While royal officials say the Queen was "hurt" by the surprise announcement, friends of Harry and Meghan say the couple felt they were being pushed aside because of the family's desire to focus on those in the line of succession - Prince Charles, William and William's son George.

Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, married American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in 2018, and their son was born in May 2019.

The couple's decision to distance themselves from the royal family has drawn a mixed reaction. Many Britons expressed sympathy for Meghan and Harry, but said they shouldn't receive taxpayer-funded security if they don't perform public duties.

© AP 2020