Meghan Markle returns to Canada amid UK royal crisis

Updated: Jan 11, 2020, 10:49 IST | PTI | London

Harry, the 35-year-old Duke of Sussex, has stayed back and is believed to be making attempts to do some damage control with his family members

Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancée US actress Meghan Markle pose for a photograph. Pic/ AFP
Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancée US actress Meghan Markle pose for a photograph. Pic/ AFP

London: Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, left the UK for Canada amid the ongoing crisis talks within the British royal family following her and husband Prince Harry's bombshell announcement to distance themselves from frontline duties. A spokesperson for the 38-year-old former American actress confirmed on Friday that Markle had flown back to Canada to be with eight-month-old son Archie, who had remained in the country with a nanny, while his parents flew back to the UK to resume royal duties earlier this week after a six-week sabbatical on Vancouver Island.

Harry, the 35-year-old Duke of Sussex, has stayed back and is believed to be making attempts to do some damage control with his family members. The royal family was said to be "hurt" at the couple's statement, which was reportedly issued without the consent of Queen Elizabeth II, Harry's grandmother. The 93-year-old monarch is understood to have asked senior aides to come up with a "workable solution" after the couple went public with their plans to take a back seat and divide their time between the UK and North America.

Prince Charles, Harry's father, is said to be upset by the move and the senior royals are in internal discussions to find a way forward and determine the couple's future roles. According to some UK media reports, the royal family is expected to hold talks with multiple governments over the couple's future plans, suggesting that US as well as Canadian officials may be involved as part of their security and other arrangements.

In a statement issued via their official Sussex Royal website, Harry and Meghan announced that they plan to "value the ability to earn a professional income" -- something they are not currently allowed to do as senior members of the UK royal family. In the statement issued on Wednesday, they said: "After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty the Queen."

"Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through," a Buckingham Palace statement noted in a terse response. The royal couple's surprise move would mean they will no longer be able to use the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant " which funds five per cent of their costs " but would still be able to receive income from the Prince Charles through his private Duchy of Cornwall estate.

Harry also has his own money through inheritance from his late mother, Princess Diana, as well as great grandmother the Queen Mother. The couple plan to continue using Frogmore Cottage, a four-bedroom historic property in the grounds of Windsor Castle, as their UK base. Canada is expected to be their primary second base, given that Markle lived and worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama 'Suits'.

After returning to the UK after their six-week break in Canada on Tuesday, Harry and Meghan visited Canada's High Commission in London to thank the country for hosting them and said the warmth and hospitality they had received was "unbelievable". Despite the shock move, Harry remains sixth in line to the British throne and is expected to carry on with his royal duties as usual until a new system is put in place.

The couple had publicly spoken out about their struggles in the media glare in a television documentary last year. They are both taking legal action against UK tabloids for breach of privacy.

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