Queen Elizabeth ordered the summit at her country home in Sandringham on Monday to “talk things through" regarding Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s future

By Helen Murphy and Simon Perry
January 14, 2020 08:16 AM
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Meghan Markle did not end up calling into Queen Elizabeth‘s historic royal family summit in Sandringham on Monday.

Though it was previously reported that the Duchess of Sussex would join the meeting via phone from Canada, Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Tuesday that Meghan and Prince Harry ultimately decided that it “wasn’t necessary” for her to do so.

“In the end, the Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for the Duchess to join,” the palace said in a statement.

The Queen ordered the family summit at her country home on Monday to discuss Meghan and Harry’s shocking decision to step down from their senior roles. The 93-year-old monarch called Harry, his brother Prince William and their father Prince Charles to come together in a high-level meeting to “talk things through,” a source told PEOPLE.

A source previously said it was likely Meghan, 38, would participate in the discussion on Monday by calling in, as she recently returned to Vancouver Island, Canada, where she and Harry, 35, spent the holidays together with their son Archie.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Chris Jackson/Getty

Shortly after the 90-minute discussion on Monday, Queen Elizabeth released a rare and emotional statement.

“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family,” she said. “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,” she continued. “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.”

“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the U.K.,” she continued. “These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

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Also not in attendance at the summit were William’s wife Kate Middleton, Charles’ wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Queen’s husband Prince Philip. The attendees were limited to the heads of each family — those born into the British royal family, so the spouses were not in attendance. (Meghan was previously thought to have participated in the meeting as the discussion specifically affected her.)

Harry and Meghan shocked the world with their decision to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family” last week.

“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,” the couple’s statement on Instagram read. “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.”