- Royal Family ‘deeply disappointed’ as senior source says the household is ‘shocked’ and ‘downright furious’
- Exasperate aide claims that people ‘bent over backwards’ to give Harry and Meghan whatever they wanted
- ‘Devastated’ Windsors are still keen to support the couple, despite being kept in the dark on their departure
- Duke and Duchess announced they will ‘carve out a progressive new role’ in a message on social media
- The personal statement surfaced without any discussion between the Sussexes and the rest of the family
- Royal insider slammed the announcement as a ‘shoddy’ and unfair way to treat Her Majesty last night
Harry and Meghan last night ‘pressed the nuclear button’ on their royal careers by announcing they are quitting their frontline roles.
Their dramatic decision was taken without the knowledge of the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William, who learnt about the announcement as it broke on television news channels.
The couple, who plan to split their time between Britain and North America, made the bombshell announcement just days after returning from a six-week break in Canada.
A senior royal source said the Queen and her family were ‘deeply disappointed’. Another said the royals were ‘shocked, saddened and downright furious’ at the couple.
In a terse statement, Buckingham Palace said: ‘Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work though.’
Well-placed sources made clear that the shock announcement was a personal statement and ‘members of the family were not consulted on the contents’.
One exasperated aide said: ‘People had bent over backwards for them. They were given the wedding they wanted, the house they wanted, the office they wanted, the money they wanted, the staff they wanted, the tours they wanted and had the backing of their family. What more did they want?’
Another royal source said: ‘It’s deeply unfair to the Queen who doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. It is a shoddy way to treat her. The family understands that they want to do something different and is perfectly willing to help them. People are just devastated.’
The Mail has been told the couple ‘secretly plotted’ their decision during their stay in Canada, even conspiring to create a new website independent of the Royal Family and ready to launch it when they returned. This was without the knowledge of their own loyal UK-based press team.
‘The level of deceit has been staggering and everyone from the top of the royal household to the bottom feels like they have been stabbed in the back,’ one source said.
The Queen (right at King’s Lynn railway station on December 20) is said to be furious at Harry and Meghan (left, at Canada House on January 7) as they step down as senior Royals
Pictured: The statement from Buckingham Palace following Harry and Meghan’s social media announcement that they would be stepping down from senior Royal duties
- Harry and Meghan want to be ‘financially independent’ and plan to earn their own income, which they say they are currently prevented from doing;
- They will give up their right to money from the sovereign grant, but could still take money from Prince Charles;
- They will retain their home at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor as a UK base;
- They will also keep their police protection – funded by the taxpayer – and have offered to carry out a vastly reduced number of royal duties in Britain and elsewhere in the Commonwealth.
In their extraordinary statement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they wanted to ‘carve out a progressive new role’ and ‘step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family’.
They said they wanted to balance their time between the UK and North America, ‘continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages’.
The Mail understands that the couple raised their desire to seek out a new life a week ago and family members agreed to work with them in making it possible.
But hours after they had visited the Canadian High Commission in London to thank them for their recent hospitality, the pair decided to go public with their decision – pressing the nuclear button, as one source described it.
Negotiations are at such an early stage that the couple still have no idea where they are going to live in North America, although Canada is clearly the favoured option.
Harry and Meghan have, in the words of one aide, ‘no clue’ as to how they will become financially independent – although for the moment are insisting they will continue to take money from the Queen and the Prince of Wales to fund their official work.
Royals who have tried to go down this route include the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who were forced to give up their television production and PR careers after a series of scandals.
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, who famously said they would go anywhere for a hot meal, and the Duchess of York, who made a string of disastrous business deals that led her to bankruptcy, have learned to their cost that it can be perilous balancing their privileged royal status with business matters.
Harry and Meghan have made no mention of giving up their royal titles or status and insist they will keep Frogmore Cottage, the home that was done up for them with £2.4million of public money.
They will also keep their state-funded Metropolitan Police protection officers.
‘It’s a masterclass in wanting to have your cake and eat it,’ one royal insider raged. ‘Even their own staff cautioned against them making this public until they actually sat down and discussed it with the family properly.
‘But they are in this weird bubble and have this strange siege mentality.
‘They feel like it’s them against the world and are painting a very unfair picture of how this is a family that supposedly doesn’t understand or support them, which is complete and utter rubbish.’
Another source said: ‘The family is perfectly willing to help them but this was a discussion better had discreetly and quietly.
‘Why on earth they have put it out in the public domain is a decision only they can justify.
‘They have no idea where they are going to live, have no idea how they are going to make their money.
‘The feeling is one of deep disappointment that they have chosen to do this unilaterally and without prior warning or consultation.
‘And no one believes it will actually help them to have these kind of conversations and discussions in public.
‘People understand they want to get things moving and there remains a desire to help them get this right but you do not turn 1,000 years of British royal history on its head in eight days.
‘They have got to start working with people. It’s hugely unfair to paint out that this is a fusty old institution that doesn’t want to help them.
‘People have been bending over backwards looking at different ways of doing things.
‘But they have made clear they still want to be paid by the public purse for their work and they have to accept that things need to be thought through carefully.’
After their seismic falling out with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, followed by the decision to split their joint royal household, Harry and Meghan have battled to find their natural home within the Royal Family.
Sources say Harry told his grandmother more than a year ago that he and Meghan wanted to set up their own ‘court’ independent of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, while retaining funding from them.
The prince was firmly told that this outcome would not be possible and that no one was ‘bigger’ – or more important – than the Queen.
The couple sullenly agreed to set up their new ‘Sussex Royal’ household under the Buckingham Palace umbrella, but have long been branded by insiders as ‘awkward and childish’ for refusing to work harmoniously alongside other members of the Royal Family.
‘The writing was on the wall a long time ago,’ said one source with knowledge of the situation last night.
The couple’s move follows weeks of speculation about their future after they took an extended break from royal duties over the festive period that followed an emotional appearance in a documentary.
In the ITV programme they spoke about the pressures they have been facing and family rifts, and in a separate move Harry issued a damning statement against the media accusing sections of the press of bullying his wife.
Harry and Meghan have only recently returned from their six-week break spent in the Canadian province of British Columbia with their eight-month-old son Archie.
Their first royal engagement of the new decade was to visit Canada’s High Commission in central London to thank Canadians in person for the warmth of the welcome they received.
Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex visit to Canada House on Tuesday before their announcement that they would be ‘stepping back’
It is likely they will be spending their time in the Commonwealth country when not in UK and may travel to America, Meghan’s homeland and where her mother lives.
Any move to Canada, even for a period of the year, would throw up important questions about Meghan and Harry’s long-term future within the royal family.
Meghan, a former actress, lived and worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama Suits, and the couple were famously pictured together when Meghan joined her then-boyfriend Harry at the 2017 Invictus Games in the city.
The cost of security for the couple would also be an issue, and as Canada is a realm, a country where the Queen is head of state, it may have to pay for keeping the couple and their son Archie safe.
The couple’s aim to be ‘financially independent’ may point towards them seeking a job, or a paid role with an organisation whose aims compliment their own beliefs.
Other members of the monarchy who have salaried jobs include the Queen’s grandchildren Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Peter Phillips, who all work for a living.
But the lows included rows over privacy, rifts with relatives, the launch of legal action and an attack on the press which overshadowed an official royal tour.
Even the Queen in her Christmas Day address spoke of the ‘bumpy’ path her family and the nation had experienced.
Harry and Meghan’s statement announcing their decision soon after their return from a six-week break in Canada refers to their ‘many months of reflection and internal discussions’.