MEGHAN Markle has returned to Canada, where she is understood to have left eight-month-old Archie behind with best pal Jessica Mulroney as she and Prince Harry prepared to quit the Royal Family.
A spokesperson confirmed today Meghan, 38, has left the UK to rejoin eight-month-old Archie in Vancouver, and is expected to stay there for the foreseeable future.
Harry, 35, is staying in Britain to host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw next week.
It is thought the pair didn't want their son to suffer jet lag flying ten hours to and from Canada inside five days.
A source said: "It was only a flying visit for Meghan. She wanted to get back 'home' to Archie."
Mulroney, 40, shared an Instagram post backing her pal as the bombshell statement was dropped on Wednesday.
It read: "A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink."
What we know so far:
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have quit as senior royals
- They defied The Queen's order not to make their bombshell announcement this week, it is claimed
- The royals were locked in crisis talks today while Meghan flew back to Canada where her best pal is looking after baby Archie
- Prince William and Prince Charles only received a copy of the Sussexes' statement ten minutes before it went online
- They want to be 'financially independent' but will still support the Queen
It comes as a Buckingham Palace source revealed the quickie divorce could "take days not weeks" as staff were ordered to unravel difficulties resolving Meghan and Harry's future as fast as possible.
Her Majesty today led a crunch meeting of the four households as she dialled in from Sandringham, Charles from Scotland, William on the phone in London and Harry speaking from home in Windsor.
No other members of the Royal Family were consulted before the shock statement was issued last night , and the "hurt" Monarch was taken by surprise.
The tension and distraction overshadowed Kate Middleton's 38th birthday celebrations, as many royals gathered at Kensington Palace today.
Today a source revealed: "The Queen, The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge have directed their teams to work together at pace with Governments and The Sussex Household to find workable solutions."
They added: "[It's] expected to take days not weeks."
Harry and Meghan announced that they will be "financially independent" in their new lives , but will still support the Queen and likely take money from Prince Charles' Dutchy of Cornwall Estate.
It comes after it was revealed the Queen reportedly learned of the announcement when the news broke on TV , and Charles and William only got a statement copy ten minutes before it went live.
And even the Sussexes' own aides were said to be stunned as they had been kept in the dark-and felt "stabbed in the back" as the new website was suddenly launched.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman last night said discussions on their decision to step back from the royal family were “at an early stage”, adding: “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through. "
Sources claimed the pair would be "punished" for rolling out their plans without warning.
William had tried to build bridges with his brother last autumn, shortly after ITV aired its documentary in which the Sussexes said they were struggling with royal life.
It's understood William wanted to visit Harry at Frogmore Cottage, Windsor, but the meeting never happened.
Sixth in line to the throne Harry and Meghan spoke to the Queen and senior royals over Christmas about their wish for a new role.
Why are they putting the Queen through this?Royal source
A royal source said: "The Queen is crushed by this. She knew that they wanted some kind of change and she was trying to accommodate them.
"Discussions started before Christmas and there was willingness to help.
"Their statement on Wednesday, put out without anyone's knowledge, was devastating.
"Why couldn't all this have been sorted out properly behind closed doors?
"They are trying to use their fame as a bargaining chip with their own family. And it could bring down the entire institution.
"Why couldn't they have waited until Charles become King? Why are they putting the Queen through this?
"Remember she was dealing with Prince Philip being in hospital just before Christmas.
"And Harry refused to fly back to spend the festivities with them."
HOW THE NEWS WENT DOWN WITH THE ROYALS
A senior source told The Sun: "Their statement was not cleared with anyone. It breaks all protocol. This is a declaration of war on the family.
"There is fury over how they've done this without any thought for the implications for the institution. The Queen is deeply upset. The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge are incandescent with rage.
"Courtiers can't believe it. There are so many unanswered questions but they've just up and done it without a thought for anyone else.
"The plan was there to discuss it and work out a way that works for everyone in the family."
Harry and Meghan finally returned from their six-week break to Canada on Monday.
Next day they visited the Canadian Embassy in London to hail the warmth and hospitality shown to them.
A source said: "They feel they can enjoy family time on Vancouver Island — they love the stunning scenery and the hiking."
The dramatic events that led to Harry effectively resigning from his frontline role started more than a year ago.
The Sussexes were said to be unhappy soon after their May 2018 wedding — following fallouts with William, and with Meghan's dad Thomas speaking to the Press.
Their desire for a new start gathered momentum in recent months. It is understood that:
- Harry first contacted dad Charles about spending more time in North America just before Christmas, but was told he needed a thought-out plan;
- He sent a draft proposal about his future role to Charles early in the New Year but was again informed more time was needed to think through the implications, particularly over funding
- Harry sought a summit with the Queen at Sandringham as soon as he returned from his Canada break his week;
- He was told that while the Queen was happy to meet him, she would not discuss his wishlist before he had discussed it in detail with Charles;
- Courtiers blocked the meeting but the Queen made it clear to Harry that he should not go public about his plans at this time.
The Duke and Duchess said in their surprise statement yesterday evening: "After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.
"We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.
"It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.
"This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.
"We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support. "
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