LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II will convene a portentous family meeting on Monday to thrash out the options ahead for Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — and possibly shape the face of the royal house for years.
The meeting is to take place at the queen’s country estate at Sandringham in the east of England.
An official at Buckingham Palace, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as is protocol, confirmed reports in the British media that the meeting — which some are calling the “Sandringham Showdown” — will go ahead. The official said the royals will review “a range of possibilities,” and “what the Sussexes said earlier in the week” — they said they wanted to live part time in North America — will be “taken into account.”
The palace official said the 93-year-old queen wished to resolve the situation “at pace” — meaning “days, not weeks” — but added that it’s understood any solution will take “time to be implemented.”
The Monday meeting is thought to be the first time that the four top royals have gathered since the bombshell news Wednesday that Harry and Meghan want to step back from royal duties and seek financial independence.
Meghan flew back to Canada on Thursday and rejoined the couple’s 8-month-old son Archie. The British media have speculated she could dial into the talks at Sandringham.
What kind of family holds such a meeting? The House of Windsor does, a dynasty whose monarch serves as the — albeit mostly ceremonial — head of state in Britain and of the Commonwealth nations, and whose vast inherited wealth and extensive land holdings make them one of the richest families in Britain. The queen is also the supreme governor of the Church of England and so serves as a moral authority.
The meeting could be tense.
The palace was caught off guard — “shocked” or “hurt” or “dismayed,” according to the newspapers — by the couple’s announcement on Wednesday, though some have suggested it wasn’t so much the news but the timing.
Talks now are likely to focus on how the royals plan to live part time on two continents, what kind of duties they will perform on behalf of the queen, and what sort of outside work they will pursue to become “financially independent.”
It’s one thing to take salaries as heads of popular charities and do good works, and another entirely to serve as possible “international influencers” promoting products as a kind of top-shelf version of the Kardashians.
“They must also ensure, in making money, that they do not make the monarchy seem grubby by relying on their link in touting for business,” the historian and commentator Simon Heffer wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. “The coming months will provide a forceful reality check, and there may well be tears before bedtime.”