Queen Elizabeth ordered a family summit at her country home in Sandringham to “talk things through" regarding Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s shocking decision to step down from their senior roles

By Stephanie Petit
January 13, 2020 02:12 PM

Members of the royal family are heading home after their groundbreaking family meeting.

Prince Harry, his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William were spotted separately leaving Queen Elizabeth‘s country home on Monday after a meeting to “talk things through” regarding Meghan Markle and Prince 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.

The three royal men left in separate cars, each taking the wheel as they drove off the Sandringham estate. Harry and Charles appeared to be wearing ties, while William sported a collared shirt under a blue sweater.

Prince William
Terry Harris/Bav Media/ SplashNews.com

Shortly after the 90-minute discussion, 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.”

Prince Harry
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“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.”

Prince Charles
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The Prince of Wales traveled back from Oman to attend the summit. He arrived at the Middle Eastern country on Sunday morning to attend the “first of three days of official condolences” following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said.

The source previously told PEOPLE it is likely the Duchess of Sussex will participate in the discussion via phone, as she recently returned to Vancouver Island, Canada, where she and Harry spent the holidays together with their son Archie.

RELATED: Palace Insiders Deny Claims of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Being ‘Driven Out’ of Royal Life

Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles

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.

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
David Fisher/Shutterstock

Prince Harry and Prince William have denied a U.K. newspaper’s story that the rift between the brothers was allegedly caused by William’s “bullying.” In a joint statement obtained by PEOPLE, Harry, 35, and William, 37, insisted that the story, which was run by the Times of London, was false.

“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a U.K. newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge,” the statement said. “For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”

William has yet to to publicly break his silence on Harry and Meghan’s intentions to step back from royal life.

Prince Harry and Prince William
Karwai Tang/WireImage

Prince William has privately expressed “sadness” over the distance that has grown between him and his brother.

“I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities,” William, 37, told a friend, according to The Sunday Times.

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However, the royal also hopes 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,” he said, according to the friend.

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