LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said that he was “absolutely confident” that the royal family will find a solution to the ongoing deliberations over the future roles for Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who want to step back from their royal duties.
His remarks come a day after an extraordinary meeting at Sandringham, a royal residence in eastern England, where Queen Elizabeth II hosted talks with princes Harry, William and Charles.
Meghan, who is in Canada, did not participate by phone, even though palace officials initially suggested it was likely she would. She is thought to have flown to Canada shortly after Harry and Meghan issued a bombshell statement last week announcing they wanted to step back as senior royals.
An official at Buckingham Palace, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that “in the end, the Sussexes decided it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join” the Monday meeting. If Meghan is indeed in the western province of British Columbia, where the couple spent their Christmas holiday, she would have been facing an eight hour time difference from London.
Johnson was asked about the unfolding drama on a BBC breakfast television program. “My view on this is very straightforward: I am a massive fan, like most of our viewers, of the queen and the royal family as a fantastic asset for our country.
“I’m absolutely confident that they are going to sort this out.” He added that “they are going to sort it out much more easily without a running commentary from politicians.”
But politicians are being asked to weigh in on Megxit, as the royal couple’s move is being called, partly because of the global attention but also because of the implications for the taxpayer.
Harry and Meghan have made it clear that they want to achieve “financial independence” while continuing to support the queen, but the details of how this works in practice are still being hammered out.
On Monday, the queen confirmed for the first time that Harry and Meghan will live part of the time in Canada, a realm of the Commonwealth where the queen is head of state.
The move throws up many interrelated questions about taxes, royal duties and who would foot the bill for their personal protection. For instance, as senior royals, Harry and Meghan are entitled to round-the-clock protection from a specialist unit within the London Metropolitan police. Junior royals are not entitled to such protection. If Harry and Meghan are stepping back from royal duties, should they still receive the same level of protection? And if they are living in Canada, who should foot the bill?
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Global News on Monday that there would be “many discussions to come” on how arrangements with the royals would work.
“Most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here,” Trudeau said. “But how that looks and what kind of costs is involved, there’s still lots of discussions to be had.”
After the Monday summit at Sandringham, the palace issued a remarkable statement from the queen — since pored over line by line by the British press — saying she was “entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life” and that she had agreed to a “period of transition.”
The queen doesn’t typically issue statements. They usually come in the form of a statement from the palace or a spokesperson, so one from her majesty herself is quite rare.
In the statement, the queen referred to Harry as her “grandson” and also first referenced the couple as Harry and Meghan, raising questions about whether the couple will be allowed to keep their titles. When Princess Diana and Sarah, the Duchess of York, divorced their royal spouses, they lost their “Her Royal Highness” titles.
The queen said that she wanted all parties to reach a speedy resolution.
She conceded that these are “complex matters,” but stressed that she had “asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”