THURSDAY, January 9
The British and millions of people around the world have been rocked by Prince Harry and his wife Megan Markle’s sudden announcement that they are planning to step back from Royal duties.
In a prepared statement the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they intended to seek a lower profile, build financial independence and divide their time between Britain and North America as they “carve out a progressive new role”.
The surprise announcement comes after the Royal couple denounced intrusive and inaccurate reporting in the British and international press, as well as vitriol directed toward them on social media including racist attacks against US-born Meghan, a former actress..
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the couple wrote on Instagram.
“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,” they said.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, said splitting their time between the UK and North America would enable them to “raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter”.
Harry is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and second son of her heir, Prince Charles.
He married Ms Markle, who until her engagement was best known for her role in the TV drama Suits, in a spectacular wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018.
The statement did not say where they would live in North America. Meghan was raised in Los Angeles and went to school at Northwestern University in Illinois.
The couple returned this week from a Christmas trip to Canada, a member of the Commonwealth, with their eight-month-old son Archie
Britain’s Press Association reported that a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said discussions with the duke and duchess were “at an early stage”.
“We understand their desire to take a different approach but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” she said.
Sixty three Canadians were among 176 people who died when a Ukrainian passenger plane crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran’s main international airport, killing all on board.
The death toll also included 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British people Iran’s state television and Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry say.
The crash, because of “mechanical failure”, came just hours after Iran launched a missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing US forces
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would insist on finding out the exact cause of the crash.
The Boeing 737-800, which belongs to Ukraine International Airlines and took off on Wednesday morning (local time), crashed near Imam Khomeini International Airport and burst into flames after one of its engines caught fire, said Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry.
The pilot lost control of the plane, sending it crashing into farmland near the town of Shahedshahr on the outskirts of Tehran, Mr Biniaz said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
Hassan Razaeifar, the head of Iran’s air crash investigation committee, said it appeared the pilot could not communicate with air-traffic controllers in the last moments of the flight.
According to website FlightRadar24, the plane was Flight PS 752 and it had stopped sending data almost immediately after take-off.
Prior to take-off, it had been delayed by almost an hour. It took off to the west, but never made it above 8,000 feet in the air, according to FlightRadar24.
Airline officials said most of the passengers were transiting through Kiev to other destinations.
Ukraine International Airlines said it had indefinitely suspended flights to Tehran after the crash.
“It was one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew,” Yevhen Dykhne, president of the airline, said at a briefing following the crash.
As US President Donald Trump appeared to step back from an immediate military response to Iran’s ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi bases housing US troops earlier in the week, Democrats in the US House of Representatives moved to limit the President’s military actions against America’s most bitter enemy.
The House move follows concerns about the Trump administration’s strategy and decisions having not been addressed in a briefing with lawmakers.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the announcement but provided scant details.
The resolution will likely sail through the House of Representatives, where the Democrats hold the majority but its passage in the Senate, controlled by Republicans, is less assured.
“Today, to honor our duty to keep the American people safe, the House will move forward with a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“This resolution, which will be led by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, will go to the Rules Committee this evening and will be brought to the Floor tomorrow,” she added.
Trump said earlier on Wednesday the US did not necessarily need to respond militarily to Iranian missile attacks on military bases in Iraq hosting US troops, suggesting even more stringent economic sanctions were on the way.
The comments stood in contrast to his previously fiery rhetoric.
On Saturday, he threatened to destroy Iranian cultural sites before backtracking and saying he would obey international law on the issue.
The overnight strikes in Iraq were in retaliation for last week’s US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward,” Pelosi said.
Our concerns were not addressed by the President’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the Administration’s briefing today.”
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