Meghan, Harry miles apart as they start new independent life

Friday, January 10, 2020

LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were taking the first steps into their new independent life thousands of miles apart on Friday, as a friend of the couple pushed back against accusations they blindsided Queen Elizabeth II with the announcement they would be stepping down from royal duties.

As Meghan flew back to Canada, where the couple spent a six-week Christmas break out of the public eye, Harry stayed in England, where the royal family sought to contain the crisis sparked by the couple's decision to effectively quit as senior royals.

The queen moved quickly to take control of the situation, ordering royal courtiers to sort out a future role for the couple within days. British media reported Friday that the monarch, who is at her Sandringham estate in eastern England, held a conference call with her son Prince Charles and grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry.

The royal family is said to be “hurt'' by Harry and Meghan's decision to step down from their royal role, with reports claiming they were not told of the statement beforehand. But the queen, Charles and William have told their teams to work with government and the couple to sort out a solution.

In the meantime, Buckingham Palace confirmed Friday that Meghan had returned to Canada, where the couple and 8-month-old son Archie spent the holiday season at a secluded luxury home on Vancouver Island. The former actress is American but has longstanding ties to Canada, having lived in Toronto while filming the popular TV show “Suits.”

The crisis talks were triggered by the pair's  “personal message”  Wednesday evening saying they were stepping back from being senior members of Britain's royal family, would work to become financially independent and would “balance” their time between the U.K. and North America.

Harry, 35, is sixth in line to the British throne, behind his father, older brother William and his brother's three children. The former British army officer is one of the royal family's most popular members and has spent his entire life in the public eye.

Before marrying the prince in a wedding watched around the world in 2018, the 38-year-old Meghan had carved out a successful career as an actress and lifestyle “influencer" with a popular blog, the now-defunct The Tig.

A friend of the couple, broadcaster Tom Bradby, said Harry and Meghan were made aware while in Canada over the holidays that the monarchy's future focus would be on those at the top of the line of succession. An image of the queen and the three next in line to the throne — Charles, William and his son George — underscored the message of who the Windsors see as their core members.