Queen issues statement confirming Harry, Meghan's 'more independent life'

Queen Elizabeth says while she wanted Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to stay as full-time royals, she understands their desire to live an independent life and has accepted their decision to move overseas.

Crisis talks have been underway at the Queen's Sandringham Estate following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's announcement last week that they intended to step back as senior members of the royal family and become more financially independent.

According to reports from British media, that statement didn't have the blessing of the Queen and "deeply hurt" members of the pair's royal family. 

On Tuesday, Prince Harry, his older brother Prince William, his father Prince Charles and the Queen met to decide how to go forward. Meghan is understood to have dialled in from Canada where she fled to on Friday.

The meeting went for roughly two hours before the release of a statement from the Queen in which she said the talks had been "very constructive". 

"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."

The Queen said in the statement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had made it clear that they didn't want to be reliant on public money for their new lives. In their statement last week, Prince Harry and Meghan said they wanted to split their time between the United Kingdom and North America.

"There will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK," the Queen said on Tuesday.

"These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days."

Immediate reaction from commentators like Piers Morgan and journalist Dan Wootton - who broke the story of the couple wanting to leave the royal family - was that Harry and Meghan had got what they wanted.

Among the topics likely discussed at Sandringham is the pair's security arrangements, which are currently paid for by the British taxpayer. There was no mention in the statement of whether the pair will retain their royal titles or their Frogmore Cottage - recently renovated with the public paying the bill. However, unlike a statement last week, Tuesday's message from the Queen did not refer to Harry and Meghan as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

It has been reported that Meghan has signed a deal with Disney and is also in talks with multiple fashion houses, potentially signalling how the pair will support themselves.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prince William and Prince Harry issued a joint statement blasting "offensive" claims in the media about their relationship. While the statement didn't specify which reports it was referring to, it was likely towards a report from The Times saying Meghan had felt pushed out of the family by Prince Williams "bullying" attitude. 

"Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge," said the statement issued by the offices for William and Harry.

"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."

Prince William and Prince Harry's relationship has been on the rocks for a while. Last year, Prince Harry admitted to an ITV documentary that the pair were on "different paths".

Both Harry and Meghan have been under an intense media spotlight since their highly-publicised marriage in 2018.

Late last year, the pair said they were suing Associated Newspapers over the publication of a private letter - a rare move for members of the royal family who normally ignore press comment.

They have been criticised by some traditionalists for breaking royal protocol and conventions, including recently when the pair didn't attend the Queen's Christmas celebrations. Instead they visited Canada with their son Archie and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland. Despite the disapproval, the pair said the Queen gave her permission for this.

However, the Duke and Duchess have also been applauded for their commitment to progressive ideals, rallying behind women, wildlife campaigns and climate change advocates.