UK's Queen Elizabeth agrees to grandson Harry's wishes after crisis talks

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In this Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 file photo, Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, left, and Prince Harry arrive to visit the Support4Grenfell Community Hub in London. (AP)
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In this file photo dated Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015, Britain's Prince William, right, Prince Harry, left, attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in London. (AP)
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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is joined by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and at rear, from left, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex during a reception at Buckingham Palace, London. (File/AP)
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Updated 13 January 2020

UK's Queen Elizabeth agrees to grandson Harry's wishes after crisis talks

  • Queen and family held talks with Prince Harry at rural estate
  • William, Harry issue joint statement criticising paper report

SANDRINGHAM: Queen Elizabeth has given her blessing to her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's wish for a more independent future after an urgent meeting on Monday to resolve the rift in the British royal family.
Harry and his American actress wife Meghan triggered the crisis by announcing last week that they wished to step back from royal duties and spend more time in North America.
After a meeting at the queen's rural Sandringham estate in eastern England also attended by Harry's father and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, and his elder brother, Prince William, the 93-year-old Elizabeth said the family supported the couple's plans.
"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 monarch said in a statement.
"Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. 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."
Last week's shock announcement by Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, exposed divisions in the Windsor family and prompted soul-searching over what it means to be royal in the 21st century.
The couple consulted neither the queen nor Charles before their announcement, made on Instagram and their own website, a step seen as impertinent and premature by a family whose roots go back through a thousand years of European history.
Meghan is currently in Canada with their infant son Archie. She had been expected to join Monday's discussion by telephone.
She and Harry say they want a "progressive" new role for themselves and financial independence, which could mean working in the United States where Meghan is from.
But it is unclear how they will pull off a partial pullback from royal roles - which some media have dubbed "Megxit" in a play on Britain's tortuous Brexit departure from the European Union - or who will pay for a transatlantic lifestyle.
"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," the queen said in her statement.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.