Washington: President Donald Trump on Friday called Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's decision to quit their roles in the British royal family "sad" and said he felt sorry for the queen.
"I think it's sad, I do," Trump said in an excerpt of an interview to air later on Fox News.
"I don't want to get into the whole thing," he said. "I just have such respect for the queen. I don't think this should be happening."
Speaking of Queen Elizabeth II, the grandmother of Harry, he said "she's a great woman. She's never made a mistake, if you look. I mean she's had like a flawless time."
As part of a surprise announcement distancing themselves from the British royal family, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan declared they will "work to become financially independent" a move that has not been clearly spelled out and could be fraught with obstacles.
The couple indicated in their statement Wednesday that they want to be free to work on their own terms while continuing to support the work of Queen Elizabeth II, Harry's grandmother.
Meanwhile, questions swirled about what the term "financial independence" might mean for the royal couple.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, have said they plan to cut ties to the taxpayer support given each year to the queen for official use, which currently covers 5% of the costs of running their office.
But they may still continue to rely heavily on private funding provided by Harry's father, Prince Charles, who controls a vast and lucrative estate. Charles is not allowed to sell any of its real estate or other assets - but he is entitled to the annual income it generates, which in the last year was roughly USD 28.2 million.
Taxpayer support is provided by the Treasury to the queen each year through a fund called the Sovereign Grant. In the last fiscal year, the queen paid USD 429 million into the Treasury from the Crown Estate and received USD 107 million for official use some of which went to fund Harry and Meghan's office costs.
But the majority of funding for the couple's office comes from Charles, who uses the revenue from the Duchy of Cornwall to pay for many of his activities along with those of his wife Camilla and his sons Harry and William.
Harry and Meghan may be able to credibly assert they are not relying on taxpayer money, which could be their definition of financial independence.
They faced a barrage of stinging criticism recently for using over USD 2.6 million of taxpayer funds for the renovation of their home near Windsor Castle. They say they plan to continue using Frogmore Cottage as their UK base if the queen agrees.
Harry and Meghan also have considerable assets of their own.
Harry inherited an estimated USD 9.1 million from his late mother, Princess Diana, that has grown with interest, as well as money from his great-grandmother.
Meghan is a millionaire in her own right after a successful acting career on the popular TV show "Suits". Before her 2018 marriage to Harry, Meghan was positioning herself as a lifestyle influencer like businesswomen Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon. Meghan's blog was called The Tig, with a now-closed website and Instagram account.