Harry and Meghan’s friend claims ‘service is universal’ parting shot was ‘taken out of context’

Harry and Meghan’s ‘horribly disrespectful’ post-Brexit parting shot decreeing ‘service is universal’ was taken out of context, a close friend of the Duke has claimed. 

Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that Harry and Meghan could not continue with ‘the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’ as non-working members of the royal family.

Minutes later, the apparently furious Sussexes issued a stinging rebuke to the Queen, insisting they would still ‘live a life of service’ outside the royal fold. They added: ‘Service is universal.’

Many officials are said to feel the ‘barbed’ statement was ‘horribly disrespectful’ to the Queen – whose husband Philip is in hospital.

But Dean Stott, who has been friends with Harry for 12 years since they served in the army together, said the line should be ‘taken in context’ of the charity work the couple do.

He also said bringing clarity to their post-Megxit roles could help heal the rift between the Sussexes and the ‘suits’, palace officials who disliked their breaks from royal family tradition.

Harry and Meghan's 'horribly disrespectful' post-Brexit parting shot decreeing 'service is universal' was taken out of context, the Duke's close friend Dean Stott (pictured together) said

Harry and Meghan's 'horribly disrespectful' post-Brexit parting shot decreeing 'service is universal' was taken out of context, the Duke's close friend Dean Stott (pictured together) said

Harry and Meghan’s ‘horribly disrespectful’ post-Brexit parting shot decreeing ‘service is universal’ was taken out of context, the Duke’s close friend Dean Stott (pictured together) said

Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that Harry and Meghan could not continue with 'the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service' as non-working members of the royal family

Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that Harry and Meghan could not continue with 'the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service' as non-working members of the royal family

Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that Harry and Meghan could not continue with ‘the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’ as non-working members of the royal family

Mr Stott, who is originally from Aberdeen but now lives in California where he sees the couple, was asked whether the statement about ‘service’ being ‘universal’ was a push back at the palace on Radio 4’s Today Programme.

He said: ‘We’re all focusing on them stepping back. I made some comments last year that there’s so many positives we can take from this, especially their love for philanthropy. 

‘Obviously them being within the royal spotlight, there’s a lot of protocol and red tape. 

‘But actually their decision to step back gives them more opportunity and freedom to do more and help more. So I think [the statement] is probably taken in context.’ 

Pictured: The statement from Buckingham Palace that The Sussexes had been stripped of their remaining roles

Pictured: The statement from Buckingham Palace that The Sussexes had been stripped of their remaining roles

Pictured: The statement from Buckingham Palace that The Sussexes had been stripped of their remaining roles

Minutes later, the apparently furious Sussexes issued a stinging rebuke to the Queen, insisting they would still ‘live a life of service’ outside the royal fold. They added: ‘Service is universal.’

Minutes later, the apparently furious Sussexes issued a stinging rebuke to the Queen, insisting they would still ‘live a life of service’ outside the royal fold. They added: ‘Service is universal.’

Minutes later, the apparently furious Sussexes issued a stinging rebuke to the Queen, insisting they would still ‘live a life of service’ outside the royal fold. They added: ‘Service is universal.’

He was then asked whether the ‘context’ he refers to is the idea that service can only be defined narrowly – such as by just service to the Crown.

Mr Stott agreed, adding: ‘There’s various ways to do service. 

‘Obviously that’s been the protocol and what we’ve known up until now. But they’re very much a modern couple and like to do things differently.  

‘So they see that they can still do a service but in their own way.’

Mr Stott said there are ‘a lot of positives’ that come with the couple stepping back, one of which being they’ve found a ‘middle ground’ with palace officials the pair have clashed with in the past.

He said: ‘It keeps one end of the party happy and Harry and Meghan in the position that they can still be in that public limelight but obviously always giving back. 

‘What the couple is extremely passionate about is philanthropy. 

‘We’ve seen it in some of the work that they’ve done already. And I’m very excited about what their Archewell foundation is going to be getting involved with.’

Prince Harry, (left) speaks with England rugby player James Haskell during a visit to an England Rugby Squad training session at Twickenham Stadium on February 17, 2017

Prince Harry, (left) speaks with England rugby player James Haskell during a visit to an England Rugby Squad training session at Twickenham Stadium on February 17, 2017

Prince Harry, (left) speaks with England rugby player James Haskell during a visit to an England Rugby Squad training session at Twickenham Stadium on February 17, 2017

Harry and Meghan were cast out as working royals last night, with Buckingham Palace announcing they had been stripped of their remaining roles following their move to California

Also interviewed this morning was royal biographer Robert Lacey who called Harry and Meghan stepping down as working family members ‘a great positive step forward’.

He also said it was the ‘beginning of us seeing William and Harry getting back together again’. 

When asked about the ‘rift’ between Sussexes and palace officials, Mr Lacey said: ‘Well Diana used to talk about the suits didn’t she? 

‘It’s certainly true that great animosity developed between the suits and Meghan in the brief time that she spent in the Palace.

‘She brought in her American advisers, they didn’t like it. 

‘The private secretaries concerned have made no secret off the record of their unhappiness about Meghan. 

‘But lets not dwell on the negatives. This is a great positive step forward. 

‘Prince Charles has always been a great believer in Meghan. I think now this is the beginning of us seeing William and Harry getting back together again.’ 

He said he would ‘like to think’ the couple will return for public – but not royal – service in the UK at some point. 

Buckingham Palace’s statement yesterday also revealed the couple had been stripped of their remaining roles following their move to California.

Their patronages will be returned to the Queen before being re-distributed among remaining working royals – including Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Anne.

But concerns have been raised about who will take on Prince Harry’s Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League patronages, with former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter saying ‘there aren’t many options in terms of the royals’.

Prince William is already the patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, while Princess Anne holds the same role for the Scottish organisation. Prince Andrew is a non-starter due to his links to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Mr Arbiter told The Times: ‘There’s not a lot to choose from. You might well hold fire, and stay in abeyance.’ 

He asked whether the roles ‘actually need a royal patron’, adding that there ‘aren’t many options in terms of the royals’.

Prince Harry is also being forced to relinquish his role in the Royal Marines – with his aunt Princess Anne poised to take over and become its first ever female Captain General. 

Prince William had initially been mooted to succeed the patronage from his brother – but growing tensions between the pair following Megxit means making such a move would be seen as unnecessarily provocative, reports suggest.

The two blistering statements: Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement that Harry and Meghan had been stripped of their remaining roles following their move to California. Minutes later, the apparently furious Sussexes issued a stinging rebuke to the Queen, insisting they would still ‘live a life of service’ outside the royal fold

Princess Anne

Princess Anne

Prince Harry

Prince Harry

Princess Anne is poised to take over Prince Harry’s role in the Royal Marines and become its first ever female Captain General after the Duke of Sussex was stripped of his military role, sources claim

But concerns have been raised about who will take on Prince Harry's Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League patronages, with former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter (pictured) saying 'there aren't many options in terms of the royals'

But concerns have been raised about who will take on Prince Harry's Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League patronages, with former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter (pictured) saying 'there aren't many options in terms of the royals'

But concerns have been raised about who will take on Prince Harry’s Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League patronages, with former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter (pictured) saying ‘there aren’t many options in terms of the royals’

As a result, a military source said the Princess Royal has now emerged as the ‘least controversial choice’ for the role, which was previously held by her father, the Duke of Edinburgh.

‘She’s not going to cause any problems or scandals…it wouldn’t be fair to take it off one brother and give it to the other,’ it was claimed last night.

The source insisted that Anne was ‘well liked’ by those in the Marines and added: ‘They would obviously like to keep Harry but we will be told who we get.’

The hard-working Princess Royal, 69, who lives at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire, is already associated with 65 military organisations and currently Chief Commandant for Women in the Royal Navy.

She is Royal Colonel of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Commodore-in-Chief of the naval force of Canada and Royal Honorary Colonel of the City of Edinburgh Universities Officers Training Corps, to name but a few.

She is also Patron of The Battle of the Atlantic Memorial project in Liverpool, the Camp Hill Veterans’ Services, aiding Canadian veterans in recognition of their services to their country, and the National Museum of The Royal Navy. 

Princess Anne

Princess Anne

Prince Harry

Prince Harry

Princess Anne is poised to take over Prince Harry’s role in the Royal Marines and become its first ever female Captain General after the Duke of Sussex was stripped of his military role, sources claim

But concerns have been raised about who will take on Prince Harry's Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League patronages, with former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter (pictured) saying 'there aren't many options in terms of the royals'

But concerns have been raised about who will take on Prince Harry's Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League patronages, with former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter (pictured) saying 'there aren't many options in terms of the royals'

But concerns have been raised about who will take on Prince Harry’s Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League patronages, with former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter (pictured) saying ‘there aren’t many options in terms of the royals’

Reacting to Harry and Meghan’s statement last night, one insider said: ‘They have made a roaring success of what they set out to do in the US, this independent life. And good luck to them. But you can’t have your cake and eat it.

‘If your primary role is to serve the head of state and the monarchy, then it’s very hard to do that if you are earning millions on the side. That’s philanthropy, not public service. The couple are working with some deserving charities and causes, which is great.

‘It’s just that the model of how they are doing it is different from how the Royal Family do it.’

The source stressed that the split from the Royal Family had been Harry and Meghan’s decision entirely. ‘They have chosen to live in America, they have not been exiled to America,’ they said.

Prince William

Prince William

Princess Anne

Princess Anne

Harry and Meghan’s patronages will be returned to the Queen before being re-distributed among remaining working royals – including Prince William (left), the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William (right)

Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that Harry and Meghan could not continue with 'the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service' as non-working members of the royal family. Pictured: The Queen

Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that Harry and Meghan could not continue with 'the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service' as non-working members of the royal family. Pictured: The Queen

Buckingham Palace announced in a dramatic statement yesterday that Harry and Meghan could not continue with ‘the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’ as non-working members of the royal family. Pictured: The Queen

Another insider said: ‘Let’s be clear, the Sussexes instigated this. They jumped. But the Queen is firm: either you are a public servant or you aren’t.

‘You can’t line your pockets while undertaking official duties.’

Although Palace officials were at pains to stress how ‘saddened’ the monarch and senior royals were by the split – insisting that Harry and Meghan were still ‘much loved’ members of the family – the rift between the two sides is now wider than ever.

Relations are so acrimonious that despite weeks of discussions, they couldn’t even agree a joint statement on the issue. ‘It’s actually all very sad,’ a source said.

Another insider said: ‘The direction of travel has been clear for a while. The Queen has been very clear from the start that this ‘half in, half out’ model demanded by the Sussexes wouldn’t work and hasn’t deviated from that. Not once. Their original idea was to have a ‘third way’ of being a royal. And the Queen has said quite simply ‘no, you can’t’.’

The Mail has been told that it was Harry who pushed to restart talks over his and Meghan’s position early this year.

According to insiders, there was a ‘puzzling sense of urgency’ to his requests that perplexed palace officials. When news of Meghan’s deal for a ‘tell all’ interview with Oprah Winfrey broke earlier this week ‘all became clear’.

This was seen as ‘shocking’ by the royal household, which had hoped to make an amicable joint announcement about the couple’s future earlier this week.

The Daily Mail revealed exclusively earlier this week that the couple were set to lose their remaining royal patronages.

They will now be forced to relinquish a series of high profile roles connected to causes close to their hearts and, most devastatingly for Harry, his three honorary military positions. The pair have also had to relinquish their roles with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, although they are set to retain their official titles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Buckingham Palace

The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Buckingham Palace

The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Harry and Meghan (pictured)

The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Harry and Meghan today

The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Harry and Meghan today

The above graphic shows how royal experts and commentators have analysed the statement from Buckingham Palace

Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, first announced their desire to quit as working royals in January last year without even informing the Queen beforehand, a move which deeply hurt the 94-year-old monarch.

The ensuing ‘Sandringham Summit’ saw the Queen, backed by the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge, stand firm against her grandson and his wife, who were demanding they be allowed to move to North America in pursuit of their fortunes while continuing to serve her as ‘quasi-working royals’.

In the end the couple were forced to agree not to use their royal titles for commercial gain. However the Queen did agree to hold over some of their official patronages – most notably Harry’s military positions – while a 12-month review of their new arrangements was concluded.

It can now be revealed that over the past year a ‘battle royale’ over these official roles has raged behind the scenes, with neither side willing to concede.

Harry and Meghan have categorically refused to accept their loss of standing and insisted they wanted to continue with limited royal duties while landing contacts with firms such as Spotify and Netflix.

The Queen, however, has told the couple that their commercial careers were completely incompatible with the impartiality required of those in public service.

The Duchess of Sussex keeps her two private patronages: Smart Works and animal charity Mayhew

The Duchess of Sussex keeps her two private patronages: Smart Works and animal charity Mayhew

The Duchess of Sussex keeps her two private patronages: Smart Works and animal charity Mayhew

According to one official, she made it ‘abundantly clear’ to her grandson that when it comes to being a working royal you are either in, or you are out, telling him: ‘You work for the monarchy, the monarchy doesn’t work for you.’

With negotiations already tense, the revelation of the Oprah interview sent matters into free fall.

Harry and Meghan had kept this secret from the Palace, hoping to announce their interview bombshell once the ‘divorce deal’ was done. This angered officials, who had hoped to make a final announcement on the so-called ‘Megxit deal’ at the beginning of the week.

The couple, who announced on Sunday they were expecting their second child, were said to have ‘hit the roof’ when they saw the Palace’s draft statement, which said that in stepping away as full-time working royals they could not be of ‘public service’.

All lines of communication subsequently broke down.

With a deep but unyielding sadness, the Queen had no choice but to formally write to her grandson confirming that ‘Megxit’ was final.

In its statement yesterday, Buckingham Palace said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty the Queen that they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family.

‘Following conversations with the duke, the Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.

‘The honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by the Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of the Royal Family.’

The Duke of Sussex called The Queen at Windsor Castle from his home in California but the hour-long conversion took Harry one step further outside the Royal Family. Pictured: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and his grandmother in 2018

The Duke of Sussex called The Queen at Windsor Castle from his home in California but the hour-long conversion took Harry one step further outside the Royal Family. Pictured: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and his grandmother in 2018

The Duke of Sussex called The Queen at Windsor Castle from his home in California but the hour-long conversion took Harry one step further outside the Royal Family. Pictured: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and his grandmother in 2018 

They added: ‘While all are saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.’

Four minutes later a spokesman for the Sussexes retorted: ‘As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role.

‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’

Harry and Meghan will still be invited to family events such as Trooping the Colour and the prince is expected to join his brother, Prince William, to unveil a statue in memory of their late mother Princess Diana at Kensington Palace on July 1.

But no one was pretending last night that relations are likely to be anything other than uncomfortable in future.

‘There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Harry and Meghan have chosen to do, but they cannot do it as royals and as public servants,’ said one insider.

‘The only hope is that perhaps now that the business side of things have been removed, they can start to repair their personal relationships.’ 

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