By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter For Mailonline and Ed Riley For Mailonline
Published: 08:50 GMT, 13 January 2020 | Updated: 16:22 GMT, 13 January 2020
Kate Middleton was seen leaving Kensington Palace on the school run this afternoon as her husband held crunch talks with Prince Harry at Sandringham.
The Duchess of Cambridge has decided to remain in London as Prince William faced his brother at the Norfolk estate after he and Meghan Markle announced they were quitting as senior royals.
Kate appeared sombre as she was photographed leaving her home in the company of her royal protection officers to pick up her children from school at around 3pm this afternoon.
She has stayed away from the crisis meeting at Sandringham to look after the young Cambridge children George, six, Charlotte, four, and Louis, just one.
Kate has barely seen Harry in the last year, and she and William are said to be bereft that the Sussexes have quit as senior royals ‘without a thought’ for them or Harry’s nieces and nephews.
When it was put to Harry last week that he needed to discuss his plans with William at least before ‘pressing the nuclear button’, he made clear he hadn’t any intention of doing so.
The Duchess of Cambridge (pictured this afternoon) has stayed in London as Prince William faced his brother at the Norfolk estate after he and Meghan Markle announced they were quitting as senior royals
Kate appeared sombre as she was photographed leaving her home in the company of her royal protection officers
Kate (pictured this afternoon) has barely seen Harry in the last year, and she and William are said to be bereft that the Sussexes have quit as senior royals ‘without a thought’ for them or Harry’s nieces and nephews
Neither had it occurred to him that there would also be ramifications for the young Cambridge children. The siblings have only seen their cousin Archie, eight months, once or twice since he was born.
‘He is so caught up with his own problems and just hadn’t thought through how it would affect everyone else,’ said a source with intimate knowledge of the week’s events.
This morning Prince Harry was photographed arriving at Sandringham to finally face the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William for the first time since quitting as a senior royal with Meghan ‘dialling in’ to support her husband from Canada.
The Duke of Sussex wants his 93-year-old grandmother, father and brother to let him and his wife keep their royal titles while living abroad and grabbing ‘financial independence’ to earn their own money using the Sussex brand, which experts say could be worth £400million.
Harry drove into Sandringham via its rear entrance in a blacked-out Range Rover Evoque at 11.20am – just as he and his older brother released their first joint statement since the abdication crisis broke blasting claims William has been bullying the Sussexes.
A Range Rover believed to be carrying Prince Harry entered Sandringham via an back entrance today as the royal summit over his and Meghan’s future began this afternoon
Harry is understood to be in turmoil over his decision to ‘abdicate’ which will be the subject of crisis talks held by the Queen at Sandringham today (pictured: the Sussexes and the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in 2018)
William arrived from nearby Anmer Hall at 1.45pm – 15 minutes before the 2pm meeting started – suggesting he chose to miss lunch with his brother and the Queen, who has been there since Christmas, as well as Charles, who arrived by helicopter yesterday.
Her Majesty has been supported by Prince Philip throughout the abdication crisis and her husband of 72 years has acted as her sounding board for finding a solution.
The Duke of Edinburgh ducked out of the palace before the mega-summit started, leaving his wife to broker the deal, but is said to be furious with his grandson and his Californian-born wife.
The Times claimed today that Meghan told Harry she must step away from the royal family just 20 months after marrying into it, partly blaming his older brother and told him over Christmas: ‘It’s not working for me’.
A grim-faced Prince Philip leaves Sandringham today with a female companion driving where his wife the Queen, who has been using him as a sounding board, will try to avert crisis and keep Prince Harry in the royal family
Prince Harry will today be warned there are formidable obstacles to overcome before he can stand down as a senior royal (Prince pictured with Meghan Markle at Canada House in London on Tuesday)
But hitting back Harry and William said today it was a ‘false story’, adding: ‘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’.
Royal aides believe the meeting started at 2pm so Meghan can ‘dial in’ at around 6am after fleeing across the Atlantic hours after the couple quit last Wednesday – but the Duchess of Cambridge will not be supporting her husband in Norfolk today and stayed at Kensington Palace to look after their three children.
Harry will be warned there are formidable obstacles that will take months to overcome before he can stand down as a senior royal – but the Queen says the family must come up with a ‘direction of travel’ for the prince and Meghan, who is in Vancouver with Archie.
A grim-faced Prince Philip was seen at Sandringham this morning but will leave it to his wife, Prince Charles and Prince William to broker an exit deal with the Sussexes.
Earlier today Kate looked serious as she left Kensington Palace today before her husband came face to face with his want-away brother in Norfolk
The Duchess of Cambridge and her husband are said to have become distant from the Sussexes and did not get together privately often as they had in the past
The Queen has been leaning heavily on her husband for support – and Philip, who has lived in a cottage of the Sandringham estate since retiring from public life in 2017, has been staying in the main house with the Queen since the crisis broke.
Philip was reportedly ‘spitting blood’ with anger when he found out last Wednesday and yelled at his aides: ‘What the hell are they playing at?’
Aides have been working around the clock to come up with a range of options for the couple since they issued their bombshell statement saying they planned to step back from frontline duties and divide their time between the UK and North America, while retaining their royal privileges and titles.
The Queen – who was left ‘deeply hurt’ by her grandson’s decision to release the statement without her knowledge – made clear to courtiers she wanted the problem sorted ‘within days’ to prevent further damage to the monarchy.
Privately, William and Harry have always felt the public perception of them as Diana’s ‘boys’ wedded together for the rest of their lives by tragedy was an anachronism. Pictured together at Thorpe Park in 1993
Prince William accompanies his brother on his wedding day in May 2018 (left). It was reported yesterday that the Duke of Cambridge had spoken of his sadness at the broken bond with Harry (right)
Her Majesty is said to want guarantees that Harry and Meghan’s business empire built around their Sussex title doesn’t damage the royal family. William and Charles are expected to reject the couple’s demands for taxpayer-funded police bodyguards while in the UK and reportedly unhappy about the environmental impact of criss-crossing the Atlantic to carry out royal duties in Britain.
The monarch is under more pressure to find a way forward because the Sussexes could give a tell-all interview to their friend Oprah Winfrey and ‘sound off’ about the royal family’s ‘racism and sexism’ if they do not get their way at Sandringham, palace aides fear.
The couple are said to see their long-term future in the US – but not while President Donald Trump is President – with friends claiming while the couple plan to live in Canada at first their ultimate aim is to have a home and business in Los Angeles.
Friends say the rift between the two is so deep now that it is unlikely to be repaired for the foreseeable future.
Harry is understood to be in turmoil over his decision to ‘abdicate’
It was reported on Saturday that the Duke of Cambridge had spoken of his sadness at the broken bond with Harry. ‘I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities,’ he told a friend according to the Sunday Times.
‘I’m sad about that. All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the same team.’
While sources close to William say he ‘does not recognise’ the quote in the Sunday Times, it is widely acknowledged it is ‘fairly close’ to what he is thinking. ‘Sadness, I’d say is the overwhelming emotion,’ said one source.
Harry and Meghan announced their intention to step down as senior royals on Wednesday
‘This is his brother, for God’s sake. He loves him. And he is desperately sad – and worried – that it has come to this. There’s an acknowledgement that things are very estranged at the moment. But maybe time and a little distance will heal that.’
While understandably concerned for his brother, William is also said to be worried about the increased workload Harry’s stepping down will bring for other family members.
Although now seventh in line to the throne, Harry and Meghan would still have undertaken more than 200 public engagements each year.
And even in the slimmed-down monarchy their father is hoping for, the Sussexes would have had a significant role. Privately, William and Harry have always felt the public perception of them as Diana’s ‘boys’ wedded together for the rest of their lives by tragedy was an anachronism. They have always had each other’s back, but have always had different ways of handling things – and different paths.
One source said the rot began after Harry left the military in 2015 and began to feel frustrated at his rather rootless existence compared to William’s clearly defined career path.
Prince Harry decided to pull the plug on his royal role ‘without a thought’ for William and his family, according to insiders. Pictured arriving together for the Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2017
It was Kate who brought the brothers together, particularly as they collaborated on their mental health campaign, Heads Together.
But others say it was just a plaster on a long-festering wound that was ripped off when Meghan came on the scene and Harry had his own family to defend.
The Mail understands while William feels both he and his brother have been deeply affected by Diana’s death, Harry seems unable to move on with his life.
Duchess of Cambridge in Kensington away from royal ‘showdown’
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Lost your password?