Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have released an extraordinary statement. Picture: Getty Images
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have released an extraordinary statement. Picture: Getty Images

Palace’s blunt reaction to bombshell

While the world is still reeling from the bombshell that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are quitting as "senior royals" - the situation has just gotten messier.

In a stunning announcement, the couple explained that after "months of reflection and internal discussions" they have decided to "step back" from royal duties and "carve out a progressive new role" - while stressing that they would continue to "fully support Her Majesty The Queen".

Just hours later, Buckingham Palace reacted via a public statement - and suddenly, everything's much more complicated.

"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 through."

It doesn't take a royal expert to read through those two incredibly terse lines: Harry and Meghan have completely jumped the gun, and the Queen is not happy.

 

Buckingham Palace has released a statement.
Buckingham Palace has released a statement.

 

The Queen. Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images
The Queen. Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Former palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter said the move was "unprecedented" and a "breakdown in the royal family".

"Harry was an absolute bonus to the royal family. He had a tremendous attitude to his work. He brought a lot of joy to a lot of people," Mr Arbiter said.

"It is a breakdown in the royal family. Something has gone wrong."

According to BBC royal reporter Jonny Dymond, it's understood that "no other member of the royal family was consulted" before the Sussexes released their personal statement, and the Palace is "disappointed".

Harry and Meghan said it themselves - their decision was "months" in the making, and made up of "internal discussions" - yet it appears the Queen and other senior royals have only just been brought into the fold.

 

Royal expert Camilla Tominey told the Today show that the Palace would have been "blindsided" by the statement.

"It is true to say that the Queen and the palace had no idea this was coming which then explains the statement which is pretty hastily written, kind of one sentence line and that, for me, smacks of a kind of instant PR reaction - 'we better get something out but we haven't got anything pre-prepared'," she said.

"What's even more interesting about that statement in saying it is in the 'early stages', clearly not according to the Sussexes who have already remodelled and written reams of copy for their new website talking about their relationship with the media and how they want to change it, how they want to change the rules around funding, how they want to change the way they do their charitable work.

"Well, that smacks of something that has been several weeks in the making."

 

The Queen is said to be “disappointed” by Meghan and Harry’s actions. Picture: John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP, File
The Queen is said to be “disappointed” by Meghan and Harry’s actions. Picture: John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP, File

This week, Harry and Meghan returned to royal duties after a successful secret six-week break to Canada over Christmas - and it's understood arrangements are now being made to allow them to live there for a significant portion of the year.

In their statement, the royal couple explained that it comes after "months of reflection and internal discussions".

"We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," it read.

"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."

"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."

 

 

Meanwhile, trouble has been brewing between the Sussexes and the rest of the Royal Family for some time.

Harry and Meghan's struggles with the scrutiny attached to their royal duties has created a well-documented pressure cooker situation in recent months, with the couple reportedly left feeling extremely burnt out by the end of last year.

In October, they took the extraordinary step of speaking candidly about their issues in a documentary filmed during their tour of South Africa, shortly before announcing they were suing two British media outlets.

Speaking to ITV reporter Tom Bradby on the tour, Meghan admitted she was "not OK" and had been finding it difficult to adopt the "stiff upper lip" approach of the British royals.

She explained that while she never thought her new life with Harry would be easy, she'd "thought it would be fair".

"It's not enough to just survive something, that's not the point of life, you've got to thrive and feel happy."

 

The decision marks a huge break in Meghan and Harry’s position in his family. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The decision marks a huge break in Meghan and Harry’s position in his family. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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