London: The Queen has told the Duke of Sussex he and his wife Meghan would be welcomed back as senior royals if they changed their minds, it has been reported.
Prince Harry had a four-hour-long discussion with his 93-year-old grandmother Queen Elizabeth II over lunch and tea at Windsor Castle on Sunday.
The British monarch told her grandson he is “much loved”, The Sun newspaper said.
It comes after Harry and Meghan plunged the royal family into a period of crisis in January when they announced they wanted to step back from their royal roles and become financially independent.
The couple are dropping their HRH styles and preparing for life mostly in North America from March 31.
A royal source, quoted by The Sun, said: “The Queen had a lot to talk to Harry about and this was the ideal time for them to both say their piece.
“Sunday was the first time the Queen has had the chance to talk to Harry on his own and really find out what his plans are. It was a much more relaxed environment and they were both able to speak their mind.”
The Queen was said to have ended the talk with Harry by saying: “You are much loved and will always be welcomed back,” the newspaper reported.
Next week, Harry and Meghan will join the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the couple’s final official engagement before they quit royal life.
They will be making an appearance at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey with the family.
A royal source told the Sun that the Queen was “upset” about Harry and Meghan leaving and that she would “love” to see more of her great-grandson Archie.
“But she accepts at the moment that his mind is made up and he intends to live in North America,” the source said.
“However she also wanted to make it clear that the arrangement can only work if they do not exploit their royal status and try to ‘cash in’ – that’s why she wouldn’t let them use the word ‘royal’ for their foundation.”
The Queen “made it very clear” to Harry that he and Meghan can always return if they change their minds and that she would “welcome them with open arms”, the source said.
The Sussexes last appeared alongside other members of the royal family at the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in November, which followed the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall the previous evening.