An aghast Prince Philip is reported to have responded with disbelief at Harry and Meghan's decision to quit as frontline royals, saying: "What the hell are they playing at?"

The 98-year-old Duke of Edinburgh was said to be furious over the couple's shock announcement, accusing them of disrespecting the Queen.

From a blind date to a war with the tabloids, a timeline of the events leading to Harry and Meghan stepping down. Video / AP / ET

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Philip, who is now largely bed-ridden at Sandringham's Wood Farm, has always been extremely close to Harry. The Sun newspaper reports the Queen's husband has been left "deeply hurt" at the Sussexes' decision to step back from duties.

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The shock move to spend a large part of their time in Canada — suddenly revealed on social media — comes just weeks after Philip was treated in hospital in the run-up to Christmas.

Meghan and Harry in Johannesburg during their tour of South Africa in October, 2019. Photo / Chris Jackson, Getty Images
Meghan and Harry in Johannesburg during their tour of South Africa in October, 2019. Photo / Chris Jackson, Getty Images

The Sun reported a source as saying, after being briefed by aides over the statement by Harry and Meghan.: "To say that the Duke feels let down would be a considerable understatement. He is deeply hurt."

Notoriously, Philip has not been a fan of Canada in the past, once reportedly commenting: "We don't come to Canada for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves."

Earlier, Prince William spoke publicly for the first time about his younger brother's choice to separate from the royal family, saying he hopes that the royals can make amends.

The Sunday Times of London reported William expressed his "sadness" over Harry and Meghan's controversial decision to take a "step back" from their roles as senior members of the monarchy.

The two brothers will meet with their father and grandmother the Queen, on Monday at her Sandringham estate in hopes of reaching an understanding.

Though Meghan will be staying in Vancouver with 8-month-old Archie, she plans to call in for the meeting.

It will be the first time Harry has seen the Queen and the two direct heirs to the throne since the couple made the announcement.

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