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Harry meets PM and world leaders at one of his last official royal engagements

Harry meets PM and world leaders at one of his last official royal engagements

Monday 20 January 2020

Harry meets PM and world leaders at one of his last official royal engagements

The Duke of Sussex has met Boris Johnson and other world leaders attending the UK-Africa Investment Summit just hours after saying he had “no other option” but to step back from royal life.

Harry carried out what is likely to be one of his few remaining official engagements before the Sussexes take a “leap of faith” and leave the monarchy for a new life in Canada, with the freedom to take on commercial ventures.

Looking relaxed and wearing a suit, shirt and tie the duke arrived at London’s Docklands where Mr Johnson was hosting the global event.

The Prime Minister and the duke had an informal “catch-up” chat, meeting for 20 minutes one-to-one without any aides present.

Harry gave an emotional speech on Sunday night where he told the “truth” about leaving royal duties behind in a bid for a “more peaceful life” for his family.

His comments came after Buckingham Palace released the outcome of talks between the Queen, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Harry over the future role of the Sussexes.

Harry and Meghan had wanted to remain as working royals, although not prominent members, and drop their public funding so they could become financially independent – a dual role many commentators said was fraught with problems.

Meghan and Harry
The Sussexes had wanted to remain as working royals

But in a statement issued on Saturday after royal family talks concluded, the Sussexes announced they will stop carrying out royal duties from the spring, no longer use HRH and will repay the taxpayers’ millions spent on their Berkshire home.

Critics have accused the couple of turning their backs on the monarchy in order to enjoy the freedom that being able to take on commercial ventures brings.

During the talks, all options were on the table and the Evening Standard has reported the Queen had the choice of stripping Harry of his dukedom and using one of his lesser titles.

The newspaper quoted a source as saying it was “seriously considered” but another source told the PA news agency this was “categorically untrue”.

The discussions to resolve the crisis between officials and members of the royal family were described as “extremely friendly and constructive” when they ended.

Harry and Boris Johnson
The duke spent 20 minutes chatting with the Prime Minister (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In a speech at a private event for his charity Sentebale on Sunday night in London, Harry told invited guests: “What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.

“Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.

“I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am.

“But I hope that helps you understand what it had to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.”

The duke was not officially attending the summit but was holding audiences – one-to-one meetings – with a number of foreign leaders at the request of the UK Government.

Harry sat down to talks with Saad-Eddine El Othmani, prime minister of Morocco, Peter Mutharika, president of Malawi and Filipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique.

Speaking last week before the outcome of the royal talks were known, Mr Johnson said he was “absolutely confident” the royal family could resolve the crisis.

Mr Johnson told BBC Breakfast: “My view on this is very straightforward: I am a massive fan – like most of our viewers – of the Queen and the royal family as a fantastic asset for our country.

“I’m absolutely confident that they are going to sort this out.”

It is likely the Government asked Harry to meet the world leaders because he has a keen interest in the continent and the royal family employ what is known as “soft diplomacy” to help strengthen Britain’s ties with her allies.

But in a few months the duke will no longer be representing the UK in an official capacity and events like the UK-Africa Investment Summit will only be open to him as a guest.

Questions have been raised about how Harry and Meghan will continue with their “Sussex Royal” brand when they cease being working royals.

This issue and other questions – including funding for the couple and their son Archie’s protection – have yet to be resolved.

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