Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s close confidante Tom Bradby claims the Palace told the couple that there were plans for a ‘slimmed down monarchy’ and they ‘weren’t really a part of it.’

The ITV News presenter insisted that it was ‘certainly not true’ to suggest the royal household was ‘blindsided’ by their decision to step down from senior roles within the monarchy.

He said it was only the timing of their bombshell announcement that angered Her Majesty, which came after they returned from a six week trip to Canada during a break from royal duties.

His comments come as The Queen holds crisis talks with Prince Charles and Prince William to hammer out a deal to keep them in the royal family, and Meghan fled across the Atlantic to be with baby Archie.

Bradby, is now considered to be close friends with Harry and Meghan and his brother William, and spoke to the Duke and Duchess during an ITV documentary where they told of their struggles of living in the spotlight.

The ITN News at 10 host’s claims of a ‘slimmed down monarchy’ – in which Charles is said to want to cut the number of working royals – is said to be one of the key reasons why Harry and Meghan decided to step down.

And it has also been suggested that a portrait released by the monarch to mark the start of a new decade may have been the final straw, confirming to the Sussex’s that they were considered to be on the ‘sidelines.’

But blaming the decision to walk away from royal duties on the issue of a ‘slimmed down’ royal family may be seen as just a convenient excuse to leave their life behind in the UK and start a new life in North America.

Bradby said: ‘It’s certainly not true to say the palace were blindsided by this. The couple’s view was they came back and wanted to talk to the family about their plans.

‘It had been made clear to them in their absence there was going to be a slimmed down monarchy and they weren’t really a part of it.’

He added that the couple were asked to put down their suggestions on paper – but initially declined to do so for fear of a press leak.

But when some details of their decision leaked, the couple decided to go public without alerting the other Royals they were doing so.

He added: ‘Harry has been talking to his family for some weeks at least about all this and certainly my understanding of what happened is he was asked by some members of the family or at least their officials to put some of these ideas in writing.

He said I really don’t want to do that because it normally leaks, and they were very insistent in order to go forward and discuss it properly it had to be put in writing. He did put it in writing and it did leak.

So i don’t think they got much heads up as to the actual announcement but they certainly knew what was going on.’

He continued: There needs to be a peace deal really soon, this is so toxic, there is so much anger, it looks like it might get worse not better.’

The Queen was ‘deeply disappointed’ and ‘hurt’ by the release of the statement announcing their plans to step down, and had begged them to delay announcing their ‘nuclear’ plans.

Prince Charles and Prince William only got a copy of the statement ten minutes before it went live on their secretly developed website sussexroyal.com.

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