The crunch meeting with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William was the first time Harry had met his family face-to-face since last week’s announcement that he and Meghan would “step back” from royal duties, earn their own income and split their time between Britain and Canada.
Meghan, who is in Canada with the couple’s baby son Archie, was expected to phone into the meeting.
The summit was held to determine whether the couple should retain their titles, who should pay for security, and how to make sure new income from the private sector does not subject the royal family to conflict of interest claims.
Significantly, the Queen’s statement does not refer to Harry and Meghan by their formal royal titles of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which could suggest the pair have to give up the titles if they wish to earn their own income.
There are also lingering questions over whether the Queen will agree to the pair’s request to continue living in Frogmore Cottage, which was recently renovated at a cost to the taxpayer of £2.4 million ($4.5 million), as well as the tax implications of splitting their time between the United Kingdom and Canada.
In her statement released on Monday afternoon, local time, the Queen said Prince Harry and Meghan had “made it 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.”
Last week’s bombshell announcement by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex exposed a deep rift within the royal family and forced it and the British public to consider how a modern monarchy should be structured.
Earlier, William and Harry took the rare step of publicly denouncing an “offensive” newspaper report which claimed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had been pushed away by the “bullying attitude” of the second heir to the throne.
“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge,” said a statement issued by the offices for William and Harry.
“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.”
Tom Bradby, a journalist who is friends with Harry and Meghan, appeared to suggest in a report on Sunday that the royal couple could conduct a tell-all interview if senior members of the House of Windsor frustrated their exit plan.
“I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred, sit-down interview and I don’t think it would be pretty,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has largely stayed silent on the dispute but Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday talked down claims some of the public and media criticism of Meghan was driven by racism.
“I’m not in that category at all where I believe there’s racism at all,” she said.
“I think we live in a great country, a great society, full of opportunity, where people of any background can get on in life. I certainly haven’t seen that through any debates or commentary or things of that nature.”
Bevan Shields is the Europe correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.