Thursday 23 January 2020

Why Meghan Markle did not take part in Sandringham Summit

The Duchess of Sussex decided to rely on Harry to speak for her at the meeting of senior members of the royal family, sources said.

The Duchess of Sussex arriving for her visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
The Duchess of Sussex arriving for her visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent

The Duchess of Sussex did not join the royal summit with the Queen and senior royals by phone and instead relied on her husband to put their case for a new independent life.

There has been speculation about whether Meghan, who is in Canada with baby son Archie, was able to participate in Monday’s discussions convened by the Queen at Sandringham.

A source told the PA news agency: “In the end, the Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join.”

Meghan is reportedly the driving force behind the Sussexes wish to step back as frontline royals, become financially independent and live part of the year in Canada.

But it appears she was happy for Harry to conduct the face-to-face talks with his family about their wishes, without her direct input.

With his brother expected to return to Canada this week, it was business as usual for the Duke of Cambridge who hosted a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony.

In a touching moment, he spoke in sign language to MBE recipient Alex Duguid, who interprets a number of television shows including Emmerdale and Coronation Street using British Sign Language.

On Thursday, Harry will carry out his first engagement since the start of the crisis, when he will host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments at the palace.

Press coverage of the event will be run under the traditional “royal rota” system which the Sussexes have said, via their new website, they no longer wish to participate with.

After the Sandringham summit the Queen issued a statement which sanctioned the couple’s new “independent life” away from full-time royal duties and she said they would begin a transition period living in the UK and Canada.

The move has raised questions over the costs of the couple’s security during their time in North America and who would foot the bill.

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau said the costs, and what role they will play in Canadian life, would be the subject of future discussions.

Asked during an interview with Global News on Monday whether Canadian taxpayers would have to pay he replied: “That is part of the reflection that needs to be had and there are discussions going on.

“We’re not entirely sure what the final decisions will be, what the dispositions are and those are decisions for them.

“I think most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here, but how that looks and what kind of costs are involved, there are still lots of discussions to have.”

Harry and Meghan spent six weeks over the festive period based in the Canadian province of British Columbia staying at an exclusive property on Vancouver Island.

The duchess, a former actress, lived and worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama Suits, and knows the country well having lived there for seven years.

Mr Trudeau said the federal Canadian government had not been involved “up until this point” about what the couple’s move to the country will involve.

He added: “There are still a lot of decisions to be taken by the royal family, by the Sussexes themselves, as to what level of engagement they choose to have.

“We are obviously supportive of their reflections but have responsibilities in that as well.”

The Sussexes enjoyed a “general feeling of appreciation” in Canada, he added.

Boris Johnson has said he is “absolutely confident” the royal family can resolve the crisis around Meghan and Harry’s future roles.

The Prime Minister told BBC Breakfast: “My view on this is very straightforward: I am a massive fan, like most of our viewers, of the Queen and the royal family as a fantastic asset for our country.

“I’m absolutely confident that they are going to sort this out.”

He went on to say: “But they are going to sort it out much more easily without a running commentary from politicians.”

Questions still remain to be answered following the Queen’s statement, including whether the couple will retain their His and Her Royal Highness titles, still receive funds from Charles and what will their diary of royal engagements look like?

But the central issue is how will they fund their lifestyles as financially independent royals, whether by endorsements, book or lecture deals or becoming the face of a prominent brand.

The Queens has acknowledged more work needs to be done on the proposals discussed during the royal summit but she wants “final decisions” to be reached in the coming days.

PA Media

Also in this section