Queen Elizabeth will sit down Monday with Prince Harry, his father Prince Charles and brother Prince William, while Meghan is expected, rather than confirmed, to participate in the meeting via phone, Buckingham Palace confirmed to USA TODAY.
Meanwhile, ahead of the extraordinary royal summit, Harry and William took the rare step of issuing a joint statement challenging the accuracy of a story in a London newspaper Monday about a severe breakdown in the relationship between the two brothers.
Their statement, reported by the Associated Pressand The Guardian, among others, pushed back against the claim, reported in The Times of London, that Harry and Meghan felt driven away from the royal family due to alleged “bullying” by William and his wife, Duchess Kate of Cambridge, who were supposedly unfriendly to Meghan.
“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a U.K. newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge,” the statement said. “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.”
The royal family members will meet at Sandringham, the queen’s private estate north of London, where she typically stays between late December and early February. Queen Elizabeth was photographed Sunday attending church at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the estate, as she usually does.
On Friday, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Duchess Meghan went back to Canada to rejoin 8-month-old baby Archie. Prince Harry remained in London where he participated in a conference call with his grandmother, his father, Prince Charles, and his brother, Prince William, according to the Associated Press, quoting British media reports.
Prince Charles will be arriving at Sandringham from Oman, where he attended the official mourning ceremony for the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died Friday at 79 after ruling the country for 50 years, as a representative for the queen. British prime minister Boris Johnson also attended.
In a bombshell announcement Wednesday, Harry and Meghan announced plans to step back as senior members of the royal family and “work to become financially independent,” while continuing to “fully support” Queen Elizabeth.
“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages,” their statement said.
About an hour after the couple’s news emerged, another palace announcement, sent in an email from the office of the private secretary and the spokesperson for Queen Elizabeth, landed in media inboxes and suggested fraught times ahead.
“Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” the statement said carefully. “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
The 93-year-old queen moved Thursday to take control of the situation. Britain’s national news agency, Press Association, reported that the queen ordered officials representing the monarch, Charles, William, and Harry and Meghan to meet and find “workable solutions” within “days not weeks.”