Queen Elizabeth has provided the conclusion to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to step down as senior members of royal family

By Erin Hill and Simon Perry
January 18, 2020 01:35 PM
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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Queen Elizabeth
John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty

Queen Elizabeth is providing the results of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step down as senior members of the royal family.

After a royal family summit on Monday, which saw the monarch, 93, Prince Charles, Prince William and Harry convene at the Queen’s Sandringham estate, Queen Elizabeth revealed the conclusions to the family discussions.

“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” the monarch said in a statement on Saturday.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life. I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family,” the statement read. “It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”

The new change will take effect in Spring 2020, according to a separate statement from Buckingham Palace.

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“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments,” the statement said.

“They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties. With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty,” the statement continued.

“The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home. Buckingham Palace does not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly- funded security,” the statement concluded.

The Queen previously shared a rare and emotional statement following the royal family’s 90-minute discussion on Monday, revealing that while she would have preferred to have the couple remain senior working royals, she supports her grandson and granddaughter-in-law.

“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.

“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. 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/POOL/AFP via Getty

Palace sources 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.”

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 Harry ultimately decided that it “wasn’t necessary” for her to do so.

An insider told PEOPLE that Meghan and Harry’s decision left senior royals “hurt” and “deeply disappointed.”

While a rift developed between Prince Harry and Prince William, stemming from a conversation where William warned his younger brother against things moving too fast with Meghan, many imagined the siblings working “shoulder-to-shoulder” as they got older, a source tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. However, that proved to be more complex in reality.

“When Meghan came around and she was interested in making changes, he welcomed it,” says a friend. When Archie was born, the couple’s focus shifted even more to “doing what’s right for their family,” adds another friend.

Though the particulars are still being worked out, Meghan and Harry want to focus on “their own causes with a little less constraint and still be supporting the institution and the monarch,” says a friend.