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Queen calls family crisis summit at Norfolk retreat

By JONATHAN POWELL | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-13 11:10

Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives at St Mary Magdalene's church on the Sandringham estate. [TOBY MELVILLE/ REUTERS]

The Queen has summoned senior British royals to gather at their private Sandringham retreat in Eastern England on Monday to discuss the shock decision by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to step back from their official duties and spend more time in Canada.

British media sources report that the meeting, to be attended by the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Harry, will be the first time the four have met since the Sussex crisis exploded on Wednesday. Meghan will dial in via a conference call from Canada, where she traveled to on Friday.

It is likely the royals will try to come to some agreement before the meeting ends to stop the immediate crisis causing lasting damage to the monarchy, reports the Independent.

Harry and Meghan spent six weeks in Canada over Christmas with their eight-month-old son Archie.

The couple announced last week that they wish to split their time between the United Kingdom and Canada in the future and plan to become financially independent.

The Guardian reports that the royal meeting will be an opportunity for them to discuss proposals, drawn up after a series of consultations between palace officials and representatives of the UK and Canadian governments over how Meghan and Harry can achieve their aim of carving out new "progressive" roles as hybrid royals.

"There are a range of possibilities for the family to review, which take into account the thinking the Sussexes outlined earlier in the week", a royal source said.

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said the trickiest area will be to agree the financial position of the Sussexes. There are likely to be tax implications to any decision to base themselves outside the UK for any length of time and Buckingham Palace will want "tight protocols to prevent them cashing in on their royal status", the correspondent added.

The Sunday Times reports that Prince William has said he feels sorrow that he and Prince Harry are now "separate entities" and expressed hope that they might pull together again in future.

"I've put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can't do that anymore; we're separate entities," he told a friend, according to The Times.

It adds that Prince William has spoken of his "sadness" at the broken bond with his brother and voiced sorrow that the royal family is no longer a "team".

"I'm sad about that. All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope that the time comes when we're all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the team."

ITV news reporter Tom Bradby, a friend to the couple, said on Friday that Harry and Meghan felt they were being "driven out" of the royal family after they were told they would not have major roles in a "slimmed-down monarchy", a claim which the palace has denied.

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