Queen calms royal storm with Harry, Meghan deal

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Dan­ica Kirka, Jill Law­less and Frank Aug­stein

SAN­DRING­HAM, Eng­land — Bri­tain’s prag­matic queen bro­kered a deal Mon­day to se­cure the fu­ture of the monar­chy, chart­ing a course for Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, that al­lows them to live part time in Canada while still re­main­ing firmly tied to the House of Wind­sor.

The de­ci­sion fol­lowed a sum­mit at Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s San­dring­ham es­tate in east­ern Eng­land that sought to re­solve the co­nun­drum of what to do with roy­als who only want the job part time. The Bri­tish monarch said in a state­ment that the sum­mit of se­nior roy­als was “con­struc­tive,” and that it had been “agreed that there will be a pe­riod of tran­si­tion” to sort things out dur­ing which Meghan and Harry will spend time in both Canada and the U.K.

“My fam­ily and I are en­tirely sup­port­ive of Harry and Meghan’s de­sire to cre­ate a new life as a young fam­ily,” the queen said in a state­ment that of­fered a demon­stra­bly soft tone. “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.”

The sum­mit marked the first face-to-face talks with Harry since he and Meghan un­veiled their con­tro­ver­sial wish last week to step back from their royal roles, be­come fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent and split their time be­tween Bri­tain and North Amer­ica.

The meet­ing re­flected the queen’s de­sire to con­tain the fall­out from the in­de­pen­dence an­nounce­ment, which prompted hurt feel­ings among se­nior fam­ily mem­bers not told in ad­vance of the de­ci­sion.

But by mid­day Mon­day, the House of Wind­sor showed signs of pulling to­gether. Princes Wil­liam and Harry is­sued a joint state­ment slam­ming a news­pa­per re­port de­scrib­ing a se­vere strain in their re­la­tion­ship, call­ing the story of­fen­sive and po­ten­tially harm­ful.

Though the state­ment did not name the news­pa­per, the Times of Lon­don has a front-page story about the cri­sis in which a source al­leged that Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by the “bul­ly­ing at­ti­tude” from Wil­liam. The joint state­ment in­sisted that the story was “false.”

One of the trick­ier ques­tions that needs to be worked out is pre­cisely what it means for a royal to be fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent and what ac­tiv­i­ties can be un­der­taken to make money. Other roy­als who have ven­tured into the world of com­merce have found it com­pli­cated.

So­phie, the count­ess of Wes­sex, sought to keep her pub­lic re­la­tions firm go­ing af­ter her marriage to the queen’s third son, Prince Ed­ward, only to find her­self em­broiled in con­tro­versy when she was tricked by the “Fake Sheikh” — an un­der­cover re­porter of­fer­ing a lu­cra­tive con­tract for her firm.

So­phie hinted that if the “sheikh” paid for the firm’s ser­vices, he would get greater public­ity be­cause of her royal role. In the end, both So­phie and Ed­ward, who ran a tele­vi­sion com­pany, gave up their busi­nesses to be­come full-time roy­als in 2002.

Prince An­drew, who was a U.K. trade en­voy, has faced heated ques­tions about his re­la­tion­ship with the late con­victed sex of­fender and fi­nancier Jef­frey Ep­stein, who An­drew has said was ben­e­fi­cial to making use­ful con­tacts. The queen’s sec­ond son has re­lin­quished royal du­ties and pa­tron­ages af­ter be­ing ac­cused by a woman who says she was an Ep­stein traf­fick­ing vic­tim who slept with the prince.

Harry and Meghan also face ques­tions about pay­ing for se­cu­rity, which is cur­rently tax­payer-funded. Home Sec­re­tary Priti Pa­tel re­fused to com­ment, but said safety was a pri­or­ity.

Meghan, who is Amer­i­can, has long-stand­ing ties to Canada, hav­ing lived in Toronto while film­ing the pop­u­lar TV se­ries “Suits.”

On Fri­day, she re­turned to Canada, where the cou­ple and 8- month- old Archie spent a six-week hol­i­day break out of the pub­lic eye.

Royal ex­pert Penny Junor said it was vital for the sta­bil­ity of the royal fam­ily to keep Meghan and Harry happy.

“What is ab­so­lutely im­per­a­tive, in my view, is that Harry and Meghan do not go away feel­ing an­gry and hurt and re­jected, be­cause an an­gry, hurt, re­jected Harry and Meghan could cause absolute havoc for the royal fam­ily,” she said. “If they don’t care any­more, if they want to show them, if they want to get their own back, it could get very nasty. They could go com­pletely rogue.”

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/GETTY-AFP

Prince Harry and wife Meghan will be al­lowed to live part time in Canada.

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