UK royals scramble for solutions after Harry-Meghan bombshell
LONDON—The British monarchy scrambled on Thursday to find urgent “workable solutions” for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan after being caught offguard by the couple’s decision to quit front line duties and seek financial independence outside of the royal family.
Queen Elizabeth II, heir to the throne Prince Charles and his eldest son Prince William, Harry’s brother, have ordered their aides to work with Harry’s household and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to come up with swift answers to the royal crisis.
This process is “expected to take days, not weeks,” a Buckingham Palace source said.
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, rocked the monarchy on Wednesday with an announcement made without consulting any senior royals from the sovereign downwards.
‘Progressive new role’
In a statement on a pre-prepared new website, their Instagram account and through Buckingham Palace’s email communications system, the couple said they would now “balance” their time between Britain and North America, rip up long-established relations with the press, and seek financial independence.
“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the couple said, adding however that they would continue to support the monarchy.
An hour and 40 minutes later, the palace, seemingly rattled, issued a brief statement of its own, saying discussions were at an early stage and involved “complicated issues.”
London’s Evening Standard newspaper said the couple had “defied clear instructions from the queen” not to go public about any future plans at this time. It added senior courtiers had warned the couple “will be punished for this.”
The mood in the palace was understood to be one of disappointment and “even hurt,” according to the BBC, while Thursday’s newspapers were full of reports of a family “split” and the Queen’s “dismay.”
Meanwhile, Madame Tussauds London said it was moving its waxworks of the pair away from other top family figures “to reflect the upcoming change in the royal lineup.”
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said Harry and Meghan announcing this step without the 93-year-old monarch’s blessing was “extraordinary.”
“This is symptomatic, clearly, of the fact that they are unhappy with royal roles and feel deeply pressured,” he said. “They’ve chosen to … go rogue. The result, therefore, could have very serious consequences,” he added.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, are among the core members of the royal family and, along with William and his wife Kate, are seen as embodying the monarchy’s future.
But Harry’s stinging statement about general tabloid coverage and the lawsuits he filed against some of them reflect the changing dynamics within the royal family.
Asked if Meghan was facing the same media pressures as his mother, Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi, Harry said: “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”
Meghan herself, when asked if she was “not really OK,” and if life had “really been a struggle” after becoming mother to Archie and living under intense media scrutiny, turned emotional and replied simply, “Yes.”
The couple’s decision drew mixed reactions, with tourists mostly supporting their “progressive” path.
“I believe in choices in life,” said a woman from North Carolina, “though I think it should have been coordinated more closely with the rest of the family and communicated more gracefully.”
Said a Russian tourist: “It’s tricky because they are huge public figures and they have duties associated with the royal family. But at the same time, they have only one life and they have to live it like they want.”
A Brazilian translator meanwhile approved that Harry chose his family over the crown. “They’ve got all the spotlight on them and the media wasn’t very nice to Meghan,” she said, referring to the racist slurs that the mixed-race Duchess of Sussex had been subjected to since she married Harry in 2018.
“Stepping aside was a wise choice,” she added.
Locals were less impressed, however, saying that the couple “knew all along what they were getting into and should have stepped up to the challenge.”
Acknowledged another: “It’s a very busy job, but it also comes with a lot of privileges.”
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