Prince Harry and Meghan Markle discussed the meeting called by the late Queen Elizabeth after they announced their intention to step back as senior working members of the royal family in January 2020. In the second volume of their Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex detailed how it all went down.
“I sent an email to the three most senior private secretaries saying, ‘Let’s have a meeting, let’s get together and have a meeting and talk about this,'” Harry said of the Sandringham Summit. “Because what was happening, what was playing out in public was crazy. And that meeting was rejected.” It was only when Meghan went to Canada that the meeting was arranged. The Duchess said, “It was clear to me that they planned out so that you weren’t in the room.”
Prince Harry then revealed the discussion with Queen Elizabeth, the then-Prince Charles and Prince William at the monarch’s country estate in Norfolk. They attempted to “talk things through” on January 13, 2020 — five days after Meghan and Harry released their statement. “I went in with the same proposal that we’d already made publicly. But once I got there, I was given five options,” Harry said. “One being ‘all in, no change,’ five being ‘all out’. I chose option three in the meeting. Half in, half out; have our own jobs but also work in support of the Queen.”
Despite this, he said that his decision provoked his older brother, Prince William, to shout at him. “It became very clear very quickly that that goal was not up for discussion or debate,” Harry said. “It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me, and my father say things that simply weren’t true and my grandmother quietly sit there and sort of take it all in.” According to Prince Harry, the meeting “finished without any solidified action plan.”
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“I think from their perspective, they had to believe that it was more about us and maybe the issues that we had, as opposed to their partner, the media, and themselves. That relationship that was causing so much pain for us. They saw what they wanted to see,” the Duke of Sussex said. “The saddest part of it was this wedge created between myself and my brother, so that he’s now on the institution’s side. Part of that I get, I understand, right, that’s his inheritance. So to some extent, it’s already ingrained in him that part of his responsibility is the survivability and continuation of this institution.”
On the same day of the 90-minute meeting, the palace released a joint statement from Prince William and Prince Harry. The statement pushed back on a media report that the rift between the brothers was allegedly caused by William’s “bullying.” However, Harry said in the Netflix doc that he did not play a part in writing the statement. “We couldn’t believe it,” the Duke of Sussex said. “No one had asked me permission to put my name to a statement like that. And I rang M and I told her, and she burst into floods of tears…They’re happy to lie to protect my brother. And yet, for three years, they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.”
Meghan said in the docuseries, “Suddenly, what clicked in my head was ‘it’s never going to stop.’ Every rumor, every negative thing, every lie, everything that I knew wasn’t true and that the palace knew wasn’t true and internally they knew wasn’t true, that was just being allowed to fester.”
Queen Elizabeth released a statement following the Sandringham Summit: “Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.
Harry and Meghan have made 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 U.K. 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.”
Harry and Meghan moved to Meghan’s home state of California and by February 2021, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple would not be returning to their royal roles. Volume II of Harry & Meghan is now streaming on Netflix.