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Questions remain about Harry and Meghan's future role after royal summit

"These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done," Queen Elizabeth II said in a statement Monday.
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LONDON — Big questions hang over the future role of Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, even after Queen Elizabeth II said she was "entirely supportive" of their desire to "create a new life."

In a statement issued after an unprecedented family summit at her home in Sandringham in the east of England, the queen pressed for a speedy resolution to the family drama that has played out in the United Kingdom's newspaper headlines since the couple’s shock announcement Wednesday.

“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,” she said in the statement issued Monday afternoon.

Meghan, also known as the Duchess of Sussex, did not call in to the family meeting from Canada as planned, palace officials confirmed Tuesday.

“In the end, the Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join,” a palace official told NBC News. Harry’s father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, joined the queen to hammer out details of the couple’s future.

The issues are indeed complex, so here are some of the questions likely to be hashed out.

Where will they live and who’s paying?

The queen’s statement confirmed that Harry and Meghan would spend time in both the U.K. and Canada. That admission has led to questions about the arrangement in Canada, where the queen is the head of state.

Image: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in Sydney in 2018.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, look out at the Sydney Opera House while on Sydney Harbour during the Invictus Games in 2018.Chris Jackson / Getty Images file

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an interview Monday with Global News that most Canadians are very supportive of having the royals in the country, though he added that “there are discussions going on.”

Meghan, an American-born actress, lived in Toronto while she filmed the television series “Suits,” and she and Harry reportedly stayed on Vancouver Island on Canada’s West Coast during their recent stay there.

One lingering issue, however, is who will pick up the bill for the couple’s security.

“How that looks and what kind of costs is involved, there is still lots of discussions to have,” Trudeau said.

Meghan is currently in Canada with the couple's son, Archie, who was born in May. She flew back last week after spending just a few days in the U.K. following a six-week break from royal duties at the end of the year.

Harry and Meghan had only recently moved to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor after renovating the property owned by the queen.

What does “financially independent” look like?

Another major unanswered question — and likely one of the trickier aspects of the new arrangement to resolve — is how the pair plan to support themselves.

Harry and Meghan said that they would like to “work to become financially independent” and that "they value the ability to earn a professional income.” The queen said she respects and understands “their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”

The Sussexes devoted an entire section of their new website to “funding,” though they offered few details on how they plan to earn money.

Image: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Harry attend at the annual Chelsea Flower show at Royal Hospital Chelsea
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Harry attend at the annual Chelsea Flower show at Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 18, 2015.Julian Simmonds / Getty Images file

They have pledged to give up the cash they receive from the "Sovereign Grant," but this only accounts for 5 percent of their official expenditure. They did not mention whether they would receive income from Charles that comes from his Duchy of Cornwall estate.

The royal family is careful to retain a nonpolitical stance. If Harry and Meghan intend to continue working part time in the monarchy, taking money from companies or industry could raise suggestions of conflicts of interest or even corruption.

What will they do?

When it comes to their daily life, the couple said that they plan to launch a new charitable entity that will “advance the solutions the world needs most.”

At the moment, they have not shared more details on their plan, though whatever they do will likely need some sort of sign-off from the queen.

Will they keep their titles?

Royal observers noted the informal way that the queen referred to the couple in her statement Monday. “Harry and Meghan” and “the Sussexes” replaced the more formal Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which is usually used in communications from the palace.

Harry and Meghan are also referred to as "their royal highnesses," and used that styling in the sign-off of their announcement last week.

When Diana and Charles divorced, she relinquished the title "her royal highness." The queen's statement Monday gave little indication if a change similar to that is in Harry and Meghan’s future as well.