Queen Elizabeth released a statement after the royal family summit in Sandringham came to an end on Monday

By Maria Pasquini
January 13, 2020 01:09 PM

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be splitting their time between the United Kingdom and Canada as conversations regarding their decision to step down as senior royals continue.

Queen Elizabeth released a groundbreaking statement on Monday, after the royal family’s summit in Sandringham came to an end following a 90-minute discussion.

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

“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,” she added. “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 UK.”

Continuing, she said: “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.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty

Palace sources previously told PEOPLE that the Queen ordered Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles to meet at her country home on Monday in order to “talk things through.”

Although not physically present, the source said it was likely Meghan — who recently returned to Vancouver Island, Canada, where she and Harry spent the holidays together with their son Archie — would participate via phone.

RELATED: Queen Elizabeth Speaks Out on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Departure After 2-Hour Family Summit

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, shocked the world with their decision to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family” last week. They revealed their plans to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” and split time between North America and the U.K.

Since then, palace insiders have denied claims that Harry and Meghan were being “driven out” of royal life, and Harry and William have released a statement denying a U.K. newspaper’s story that the rift between them was allegedly caused by William’s “bullying.”

William has also privately expressed “sadness” over the distance that has grown between him and his brother, as well as his hope that the rift can be repaired in time.

“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,” William told a friend, according to The Sunday Times.

Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

The unprecedented family summit follows a series of emergency discussions across the last few days and raises the prospect that a solution is in sight that will work for the Sussexes and the royal family.

“There is a range of possibilities for the family to review which take into account the thinking the Sussexes outlined earlier in the week,” the source said.

“As we have said previously, making a change to the working life and role of the monarchy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex requires complex and thoughtful discussions. Next steps will be agreed at the meeting,” the source shared. “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.”

The meeting was the first time they had all been together since Remembrance Day weekend in November.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Shutterstock

RELATED: Queen Elizabeth Did Not Use Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Titles in Post-Summit Statement

Last month, Harry and Meghan received a very warm welcome from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, following the palace’s confirmation that the royal couple would be “spending private family time in Canada” over the holiday season.

“Prince Harry, Meghan, and Archie, we’re all wishing you a quiet and blessed stay in Canada,” the the 47-year-old politician wrote in a Tweet. “You’re among friends, and always welcome here.”

Meghan previously lived in Toronto, where her former TV show Suits was filmed. The couple also made their first public appearance together there in 2017 at Harry’s Invictus Games.

At the time, the palace said that Harry and Meghan’s decision to base themselves in the country “reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both.”

“The Duke of Sussex has been a frequent visitor to Canada over many years, and it was also home to The Duchess for seven years before she became a member of the Royal Family,” the statement continued. “They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son.”

Advertisement