Harry, William present united front ahead of royal crisis summit


Prince Harry and his brother Prince William put on a united front as they were summoned to showdown talks Monday on Harry’s future after he and his wife Meghan unilaterally announced they were quitting as front-line British royalty.

The brothers, who, at Harry’s public admission, have drifted
apart in recent years, lashed out at a story concerning their relationship, as
newspapers speculated on what caused the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to quit
their roles in search of a new life.

William, 37, and 35-year-old Harry formed a close bond
following their mother Diana’s death in 1997 but Harry admitted last month that
they had drifted apart and were now on different paths.

The fraternal show of unity came as they were summoned to
talks with their grandmother Queen Elizabeth II and father Prince Charles aimed
at charting a way through the crisis.

The 93-year-old monarch called the trio to urgent talks at
her private Sandringham retreat in eastern England.

A statement on behalf of Harry and William said:
“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.

“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.”

‘Bullying’ allegation

Among the stories in Monday’s press was a report in The
Times headlined: “Princes ‘fell out because William wasn’t friendly
towards Meghan’.”

It said Harry and Meghan saw themselves as having been
“pushed away from the royal family” by William’s “‘bullying’
attitude” — adding that sources close to the princes had denied this
version of events.

The Sussexes last week said they wanted to step back as
senior royals, divide their time between Britain and North America, rip up
long-established ways of working with the media and seek a
“progressive” and financially-independent new role.

That triggered the queen on Thursday to direct her
officials, plus those of Charles, William and Harry, to seek urgent
“workable solutions” following the bombshell announcement.

Charles, 71, the heir to the throne, flew back from Oman,
where he attended a condolence ceremony Sunday following the death of the late
Sultan Qaboos.

Meghan, 38, is expected to join the meeting via conference
call from Canada as they attempt to work out the “next steps” towards
a compromise.

Issues up for debate include how much money the couple will
still receive from Charles — who largely bankrolls his sons and their families
— the couple’s royal titles and how they can raise their own finances without
compromising the monarchy.

Forging new role

Harry, Meghan and their son Archie, who was born in May last
year, spent six weeks over Christmas in Canada.

After briefly coming back to Britain, several Canadian media
reported Meghan had returned to Vancouver Island off the country’s Pacific
coast, where Archie had remained with his nanny.

Their plan for a new way of working said they intended to
continue to “fully support” Queen Elizabeth and honour their duties
to the monarch, the Commonwealth and their patronages.

However, they want to make 2020 a “transition”
year to carve out their new role and launch their new Sussex Royal charitable
entity and seek to raise their own sources of income.

They also want to keep their newly-renovated Frogmore
Cottage home on the queen’s Windsor Castle estate as their British base.

Harry, now sixth in line to the throne following the birth
of William’s three children, has been open about his mental health issues in
coming to terms with his mother’s death in a Paris car crash, when he was just
12.

He and Meghan in October admitted to struggling with the
spotlight following their wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and Archie’s
birth a year later.

US former television actress Meghan was widely welcomed as a
breath of fresh air for the royal family when their engagement was announced in
November 2017.

But the prince and the ex-“Suits” star have lashed
out at negative news coverage since the wedding — some of which Harry says was
racist — in light of Meghan’s bi-racial heritage.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, Britain’s interior minister,
rejected suggestions that Meghan had been subjected to racist press coverage.

“I’m not in that category at all,” she told BBC radio. “I certainly haven’t seen that through any debates or commentary.”

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