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Queen’s intervention

The couple made the shock announcement without telling the Queen or other senior royals first.

SNS | New Delhi |

The flux in the British royalty amidst the conflict between familial compulsions and duties towards Buckingham Palace. has overshadowed Brexit. While leaving the European Union is now a virtually settled fact, the equation between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the one hand and the palace at another remove might remain rather unsettled for sometime yet.

At the ripe old age of 93, Queen Elizabeth has woven a patchwork quilt on Monday in course of the “crisis summit” at her private Sandringham retreat with her two grandsons and their wives. She has above all proven her remarkable ability to effect a compromise of sorts. Chiefly, she has backed Prince Harry and Princess Meghan as regards their future roles, saying the royal family “respect and understand” their desire to step back as senior royals.

She has agreed to what they call a “period of transition”, during which time the Prince and the Princess will shuttle between Canada and the United Kingdom. “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,” said the Queen in what must rank as a landmark statement in British constitutional history.

She has sought to stave off the crisis by drawing a very subtle distinction between an “independent family life” and commitments as members of royalty at another remove. Quite the most critical feature of the “independence” must be that the “Sussexes”, to summon the Queen’s expression, will no longer be reliant on public funds that have historically sustained royalty in Britain. “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.”

Should the crisis over stepping back from royalty be agreeably resolved, as the nation hopes it will, it will be rooted not a little to the signal contribution of the Queen of England. Pre-eminently, her effort has cut across generations, reflecting her anxiety to sustain the pristine glory of Buckingham Palace. The timeline of developments has been as swift as it has been astonishing. Harry and Meghan announced last Wednesday that they wanted to step back as senior royals and be financially independent.

The mood at the palace was reported to be one of disappointment. The couple made the shock announcement without telling the Queen or other senior royals first. The palace ignored the announcement by saying the couple’s plans were not finalised and discussions remained “at an early stage”. Unmistakable, however, is the thaw in the frost. For now, she has protected the wishes of the royal couple. She has protected Buckingham Palace. She richly deserves a collective doff of the hat.