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Why Meghan Markle did not take part in meeting with the queen

The Duchess of Sussex did not call in as planned to join the meeting to discuss her royal future and that of her husband, Prince Harry.
/ Source: TODAY

The unprecedented royal meeting held Monday to discuss the future roles of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, did not include the former Meghan Markle.

While Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William gathered in person with Harry at the queen's Sandringham Estate, the Duchess of Sussex did not join the meeting via phone from Canada as planned, a palace official told Keir Simmons of NBC News on Tuesday.

"In the end, the Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join,'' the official said.

Queen Elizabeth released a statement following the meeting saying she supports her grandson and his wife in the wake of their bombshell announcement that they wanted to "step back" from their lives as senior royals and work to become financially independent.

"My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,'' she said in her statement. "Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family."

The 93-year-old monarch, who was reportedly "blindsided" by the couple's announcement, also addressed their plans to be financially independent and split time living in Britain and Canada, where Meghan has been with their baby son, Archie, after the couple also spent Christmas there.

"Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives,'' the queen said in her statement. "It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK."

Harry and William also issued a joint statement Monday condemning a newspaper article claiming that William's alleged "bullying behavior" drove Harry and Meghan away from the royal family, calling it "offensive."

One detail that is still unknown will be the cost of their security, estimated at more than half a million dollars a year. That number could balloon to more than a million dollars a year if they spend more time in Canada, and it's unclear who will pay for that cost.

It's also still unclear how much work the couple will continue to do on behalf of the royal family or how they will earn a living. The Duchess of Sussex may have given a hint at the answer to that question when she reportedly signed a deal with Disney in the wake of their split with the royal family to do a voice-over in exchange for a contribution to a wildlife charity of her choosing.