Royal commentator says Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leaving royal family is unprecedented

A royal family commentator has called Prince Harry and Meghan Markle cutting ties with the family a situation "without precedent".

ITV's Chris Ship made the comments after Queen Elizabeth held crisis talks at Sandringham Estate on Monday (local time) to discuss the pair's new independence.

"No member of the royal family has ever been half in, half out before. No one's done the job from as far away as Canada before. So it's all without precedent," he said.

"Meghan isn't even here. She's in Canada at the moment, which to me feels like a statement of intent that she's checked out of the UK. We don't know, she might come back."

Monday's meeting was a strict family affair, with Prince Harry, his older brother Prince William, their father Prince Charles and the Queen all present. The Duchess of Sussex was barred from phoning in from Canada due to security fears.

Camera crews from around the world gathered at the estate gates, trying to be first with news of the Sandringham solution.

After the two-hour meeting, the Queen released a statement saying she is "entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan" after "very constructive discussions".

"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.

"It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK."

The Queen added that while more work needs to be done, she has requested final decisions be reached in the coming days.