The Queen is preparing to host crisis talks on Monday to come up with solutions to Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back as senior royals.
In what can be seen as an unprecedented summit, the monarch, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex will sit down together at Sandringham where it is thought the “next steps” will be decided.
It will be the first time they will have spoken in person since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released their statement on Wednesday, announcing their intentions to “carve out a progressive new role within the institution”.
Sky News has been told by a palace source that the family will gather in Norfolk to talk things through and it is understood that Meghan, who is in Canada with baby Archie, is likely to join the meeting by telephone.
On Sunday, the Queen attended a service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate, where members of the public clapped as she left.
As he walked to church, Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips said his grandmother – who was spotted wearing a hearing aid for what is believed to be the first time – was feeling “alright” when he was asked how she was.
Some of those who gathered see the monarch said they felt sorry for her, adding that Harry and Meghan should not receive any more taxpayers’ money.
Jean Acton, 70, from Fakenham, said of the couple: “I think they should give any monies back. You can’t have your cake and eat it. I just think they’ve done the dirty on the Queen.”
Prince Charles was in Oman with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday to attend a condolence ceremony following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, but he is expected to travel back for Monday’s talks.
Prince William has reportedly said he feels sorrow that he and Harry are now “separate entities”.
He apparently told a friend: “I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more.”
Following a series of meetings and consultations across the last few days, there are expected to be a range of possibilities for the family to review.
These will take into account the thinking outlined by the Sussexes during the week.
As the palace has said previously, there is an appreciation that making a change to their working life and role within the monarchy will require complex and thoughtful discussions.
The source said it continues to be the Queen’s request and wish that the discussions about solutions happen at pace and are worked out within days and not weeks.
Meetings between senior members of the family may take place behind closed doors, but this is the first time in recent years that the media has been openly briefed about one happening.
It can be seen as a move by the Queen to show she is taking control of the situation after Harry and Meghan released their statement announcing their plans to step back as senior royals, become financially independent and split their time between North America and the UK.
The couple released the statement without consulting or informing any senior members of the family.
At the time, the family were said to be disappointed and hurt.
Any discussions with the family about their future had been at very early stages and there have been suggestions the Queen had even asked her grandson not to go public with his intentions.
It is unclear if other members of royal staff will join the meeting on Monday, but private secretaries will have been heavily involved in drawing up the agenda that the family will be talking through.
Earlier in the week, Meghan returned to Canada to be with her son Archie, who stayed behind after the family’s six-week break over the Christmas period.
Labour leadership candidate Clive Lewis, a shadow Treasury minister, suggested the duchess has been the victim of “structural racism” in the media.
He said: “We can see it with Meghan Markle and the way that she’s been treated in the media.
“We know this is a reality of the 21st century still after 400 years of racism. You can’t just overturn it overnight, it is something that we’re going to have to work on.”