RTaking advantage of her support for “the couple’s desire to create a new life as a young family”, the sovereign admitted that she would “prefer that they remain full-time members of the royal family”.

Stressing that he had asked for the final decisions to be made in the next few days, there were echoes of the Queen’s 1997 television address after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, while conceding: “We respect and understand their desire to live more life independent as a family while remaining a valuable part of my family.

“These are complex issues that my family can solve and there is still a lot of work to be done.” Although the statement suggested that “there will be a transition period in which the Sussex will spend time in Canada and the United Kingdom”, it was not yet known whether the Duchess would return from North America – or when the Duke could have gone back through the Atlantic to reunite with his wife and son.

The Duke will host the Rugby League World Cup draw at Buckingham Palace on Thursday – his first real commitment after the “abdication” crisis ended last week.

Last night, the Queen honored her commitment to host a drink reception for Sandringham staff.

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