Royal courtiers chart path for Prince Harry's independence

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LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II has moved quickly to take control of the crisis surrounding the decision by Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to distance themselves from the royal family, ordering royal courtiers to find a future role for the pair within days.

Officials representing the most senior members of the family — the monarch, her son Prince Charles, grandson Prince William, and Prince Harry and Meghan — were meeting to sort out a workable solution for the couple within the royal family.

In the meantime, Meghan has returned to Canada, where she and Harry spent the Christmas holidays, instead of with other royals at the queen's estate in Sandringham, England. The former actress has longstanding ties to the country, having lived in Toronto while filming the TV show "Suits."

The talks come after the royal pair released a "personal message" Wednesday evening that said they were stepping back from being senior members of Britain's royal family, aimed to become financially independent and would "balance" their time between the U.K. and North America.

The monarch and other members of the family were said to be "hurt" by the announcement because they weren't informed about the communique before it was released.

Harry, 35, is Elizabeth's grandson and sixth in line to the British throne, behind his father, brother and his brother's three children. Before marrying the prince in 2018, the 38-year-old Meghan was a star of the TV legal drama "Suits." The couple's son Archie was born in May 2019.

The couple's statement on Wednesday left many questions unanswered — such as what they plan to do and how they will earn private income without tarnishing the royal image. At the moment, they are largely funded by Harry's father, Prince Charles, through income from his vast Duchy of Cornwall estate.

They said they plan to cut ties to the taxpayer support given each year to the queen for official use, which currently covers 5 percent of the costs of running their office.

Harry and Meghan also have considerable assets of their own. Harry inherited an estimated 7 million pounds ($9.1 million) from his late mother, Princess Diana, as well as money from his great-grandmother. Meghan has money from a successful acting career.

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