They had hardly seen each other for months, but just after lunch they came together to save the monarchy.
Gathering in the Long Library of the family’s 19th Century Sandringham estate, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry looked each other in the eye and agreed to find a resolution.
Her Majesty had appealed for calm in the face of days of tension from her family and household staff that had threatened to boil over.
Those battling against the winds of change as Harry and wife Meghan plotted their move away, were beckoned to the table to carve a way forward.
With the world’s eyes on a tiny corner of Norfolk, the 93-year-old monarch presided over one of the most extraordinary days of her seven decade reign.
Chairing the meeting, across a large polished table with room for eight chairs, the Queen and her family set out their vision of how a new version of monarchy would emerge.
Over the next two hours they thrashed out the framework of a deal to stop the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from permanently turning their backs on the family.
But the brutal reality remained, that little more than 20 months after marrying in a wedding that captured the hearts of the nation, Harry and Meghan had effectively resigned from The Firm citing feelings of relentless pressure and an unsupportive network
The couple, who have patented more than 100 items from intellectual property to bandanas, plan a takeover on the global stage where they can earn millions with Meghan’s star power and Hollywood connections lining up to help.
But with Harry wavering under renewed requests for calm from his beloved grandmother, the hope is the family will still be able to persuade the couple to change tact and plan a soft Megxit to safeguard their future and the monarchy for a generation.
Sources close to the negotiations have revealed the family set six main points to be agreed on before real change could take affect.
The six key pointsTitles
The Queen referred to the couple by their first names and not by their titles in her statement. Does this mean they will lose their titles?
The couple have been asked to suggest a plan to fulfil their wish to be “financially independent”. Deals to be approved by The Palace.
The Queen and other royals have vowed to find a “workable approach” to security issues. Canada has reportedly said it would pay.
The pair took advice from PR gurus in the US, Sir Elton John and Oprah Winfrey. Senior royals want to know exactly who works for them.
Senior royals will demand to know if Harry and Meghan are planning to do a ‘tell-all’ interview – and who would host it.
Where they live
Any new home would have to be assessed by the UK security services and Buckingham Palace due to security concerns.
What happens next?
Crucially with the Queen’s blessing, Harry and Meghan will now split their time between the UK and Canada as “a period of transition” takes place, nullifying the need for the immense haste which the Sussexes had been so keen to implement.
Central to discussions was the way in which the couple will move towards becoming “financially independent”
They revealed they would stop claiming public funds, believed to be in excess of a £1million a year, but it is thought they would still claim expenses for travel and office costs
Despite being worth more than £35million in their own right, the couple are still yet to announce whether they will give up the £2.3 million a year subsidy from Prince Charles from his private income.
Their security bill has still to be managed, set between £600,000 and £1million, considerably more if dividing their time between countries.
They were buoyed today by reports Canadian prime minister has agreed to foot the bill when the duke and duchess are residents in his country.
Justin Trudeau had previously tweeted “‘You’re among friends, and always welcome here’” when news broke of the Sussexes escape to Vancouver for their extended break over Christmas and new year.
The Queen’s advisors have made clear the Sussexes responsibilities moving forward when signing corporate deals and Harry has agreed he would never purposely seek to bring controversy to his family’s.
He told how neither he nor his wife have plans to do a "tell all" interview after close associates of the couple said that any proposition would "not be pretty" for the monarchy.
Key to any discussions moving forward will be the Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young, Prince Charles’s canny private secretary Clive Alderton and William’s top aide and former civil servant Simon Case.
Prince Harry’s private secretary, ex-diplomat Fiona Mcilwham, is expected to complete the group.
The Sussexes living arrangements are to be mapped out by advisors once Harry and Meghan come up with a range of options.
It is expected they will keep their Frogmore Cottage home that was refurbished with £2.4 million of taxpayers cash just last year.
After the meeting the three male principals staged a synchronised exit from the estate in separate cars, with Charles later flying from RAF Marham around 15 miles away by to his Scottish retreat Birkhall where he always has a New Year break.
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