Why Kate Middleton and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall Didn't Attend the Queen's Royal Family Summit

The Queen ordered Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles for a meeting to discuss Harry and Meghan's decision to "step back" as senior members of the royal family

The Queen’s historic royal family summit on her Sandringham estate on Monday was an exclusive affair for the monarch and her heirs.

After the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their shocking announcement last week that they have decided to “step back as senior members of the Royal Family,” Queen Elizabeth ordered Prince Harry, his father Prince Charles and brother Prince William to a family summit.

The attendees were limited to the heads of each family — those born into the British royal family, so the spouses — including William’s wife Kate Middleton, Charles’ wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Queen’s husband Prince Philip (who is officially retired) — were not in attendance. Meghan was thought to have participated in the meeting via phone from Canada, as the discussion specifically affects her.

The meeting, which lasted 90 minutes, was held in the Queen’s country home in Sandringham, Norfolk.

Kate, who celebrated her 38th birthday last week, was spotted leaving Kensington Palace on Monday, while William was in Sandringham. Prince Philip, who was hospitalized last month, was seen being driven out of the grounds of Sandringham in a green Land Rover ahead of the Queen’s meeting.

CHRIS JACKSON/AFP via Getty Images; ALASTAIR GRANT/AFP via Getty Images; Tim Rooke - Pool/Getty Images; Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

After the meeting, the 93-year-old monarch released a rare and emotional statement.

“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.”

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, released their unprecedented announcement to “step back” in an Instagram post 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 statement 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.”

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!

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

The couple also declared they plan to “balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.”

Related Articles