LONDON • Prince Harry's wife Meghan has returned to Canada following the couple's bombshell announcement that they were quitting their front-line royal duties, as the monarch held urgent talks with her family to resolve the crisis.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent an extended Christmas holiday in Canada with their son before returning to break the news last week that they would "step back" their royal roles.
The Daily Mail newspaper reported that Meghan flew back to Canada on Thursday. She had left baby Archie behind in Canada with his nanny, and "she may stay there for the foreseeable future", it said.
"I can confirm reports that the duchess is in Canada," the couple's spokesman told Agence France-Presse.
Senior royals were caught off guard by Wednesday's announcement that the Sussexes wanted to seek a "progressive new role" and divide their time between Britain and North America. Queen Elizabeth II's office issued a terse statement the same evening, saying there were "complicated issues that will take time to work through".
But a palace source on Thursday said the Queen had instructed aides to work "at pace" with Meghan and Prince Harry and the government "to find workable solutions".
Prince Harry and Meghan said they want to keep their home in the Queen's Windsor Castle estate as their British base, while aiming to become financially independent. But questions are being raised about what this means in practice, as their security is paid for by the state and they receive funds from the Queen and Prince Charles.
Meanwhile, the Sussexes can expect less intense local media scrutiny than they have faced in Britain should they move to Canada, experts have said, though international press attention will be impossible to avoid. Their "step back" is partly driven by the intrusive coverage of Meghan and Prince Harry by the British tabloids - something they would not have to deal with to the same degree from Canadian news outlets, according to media experts.
Canadian media "tend to separate the public life from the private life of public figures", said Professor Chris Waddell, a long-time journalist and professor at Ottawa's Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication.
Mr Ken Goldstein, a Canadian media economics and trends analyst, said the British press "are much more 'gotcha'" and should the couple move to Canada, the tabloids would likely hire freelancers in Canada "to do their gotcha thing for them".
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS