The Queen will host crisis talks with senior royals and the Duke of Sussex on Monday in a bid to find a solution to Meghan and Harry’s future roles.
The head of state will be joined at her private Norfolk estate of Sandringham by the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge for the crunch meeting – where the “next steps” will be decided, a source has told the PA news agency.
It will be the first time the four will have met since the issue engulfed the royal family, and it is thought William will be travelling from his Kensington Palace apartment and Harry from Frogmore Cottage near Windsor Castle.
Charles was in Oman on Sunday to attend a condolence ceremony following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, and was due to travel back to the UK in the evening in time for the talks at Sandringham on Monday.
Before them will be a range of options, and it is likely the royals will try to come to some agreement before the meeting ends to stop the immediate crisis causing lasting damage to the monarchy.
The Queen attended church at Sandringham on Sunday, arriving by car dressed in a camel coloured coat and hat.
Members of the public gathering near St Mary Magdalene Church said they felt sorry for the Queen, with some saying that Harry and Meghan should not receive any more taxpayers’ money.
Jean Acton, 70, from Fakenham, described the crisis as a “slap in the face” for the Queen.
“I feel desperately sorry for her. It must be horrible. For any parent. Let alone if you’re a royal or not,” she said.
Asked about Harry and Meghan, she said: “I think they should give any monies back. You can’t have your cake and eat it. I just think they’ve done the dirty on the Queen.”
Members of the public clapped as the Queen left the church after the service. She waved from her car as it pulled away.
Harry and Meghan are said to have left the Queen and senior royals feeling “hurt” by their bombshell announcement they plan to step back as senior royals, become financially independent and split their time between the UK and North America.
On Thursday, the Queen, Charles and William gave orders for their households to work with the Sussexes’ team to quickly find a “workable solution” to their desire to change the direction of their royal lives, but still support the Queen.
A royal source said: “The family will gather on Monday at Sandringham to talk things through, attended by Her Majesty, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.
“Following a series of meetings and consultations across the last few days, there are a range of possibilities for the family to review which take into account the thinking the Sussexes outlined earlier in the week.
“As we have said previously, making a change to the working life and role in the monarchy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex requires complex and thoughtful discussions.
“Next steps will be agreed at the meeting, the request for this to be resolved at pace is still her Majesty’s wish – the aim remains days not weeks.
“There is genuine agreement and understanding that any decision will take time to be implemented.”
Meghan flew to Canada a few days ago where she spent an extended festive break with Harry and baby son Archie in the province of British Columbia.
She is with her child, but the source said it is likely the duchess will be able to participate in the meeting by phone.
The Sunday Times said William had told a friend that he and Harry are now “separate entities”.
The newspaper reported William as saying: “I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities.
“I’m sad about that. All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope that the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the team.”
Before the meeting, the royals will be given written proposals produced by their offices and others, including relevant government departments from the UK and Canada, where it is thought Harry and Meghan will establish a second home.
It is not known who else, if anyone, will be at the meeting – but it is likely the private secretaries of the four royals may join part of the talks to assist with any questions.
The Sussexes’ statement – and a new official Sussexroyal.com website – have thrown up important questions about funding for the couple’s round-the-clock security, media access to their royal events and how they will pay for their future lifestyles.
Other important issues to resolve include who will pay for the substantial security cost of protecting the couple and their baby son if they spend large portions of the year in Canada and possibly America.