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ust over two years after expressing their excitement at becoming team players within the royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex issued a shock statement declaring their independence from The Firm, on their own terms. ‘We intend to step back as “senior” members of the royal family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty the Queen,’ the statement read. ‘We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages…’ Shortly afterwards Buckingham Palace issued a terse statement saying these were ‘complicated issues’ and discussions were only at ‘an early stage’. It became clear that the Queen and her family knew nothing about the statement before it was released. Unusually, the Palace spoke of the ‘hurt’ and ‘disappointment’ this had caused. Unlike Harry and Meghan, who had just been on six-week sabbatical in Canada, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge began 2020 in unison in their efforts to tackle the world’s environmental issues. Of course, being from different generations they have their own ideas, but their united influence is a powerful weapon towards finding solutions. ‘There is no monopoly on action,’ Prince Charles’s deputy private secretary Scott Furssedonn-Woodconfirmed. ‘As long as everyone is pointing in the right direction. The Prince and [William] are delighted they have parallel opportunities to pursue the same objectives.’ At the beginning of January, the Duke of Cambridge launched his global Earthshot Prize, endorsed by Sir David Attenborough. ‘Either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem solve,’ William said. The Earthshot Prize will celebrate the achievements of five individuals, teams or organisations each year for the next decade and provide monies for extensive research. William hopes it will equal the Nobel Peace Prize in terms of its significance within a few years. It will be funded by private donors and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation – the umbrella organisation for the couple’s charity work – and embraces an optimistic outlook more akin to that of Prince Philip, who has always said that science can eventually solve anything. En route to an official visit to Israel the Prince of Wales attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to launch his sustainable Markets Council, to bring together leading international figures to help decarbonise the global economy. The wildfires in Australia, which have killed more than two dozen people and an estimated billion animals, prompted messages of condolence from members of the royal family, most importantly the Queen as Australia’s head of state. The Duke of Edinburgh, who spent four nights in hospital in London after being flown from Sandringham on the Friday before Christmas for what was described as ‘observation and treatment’ for a pre-existing condition, was helicoptered back to Sandringham on Christmas Eve. At the age of 98 his health remains a concern, but he is still as interested and opinionated about current affairs as always. He and the Queen have a particular fondness for Australia, having visited the country many times since the Coronation Tour of 1953-54.

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