The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's staff at Frogmore Cottage are being "let go", in the surest sign yet the couple will settle in Canada, sources revealed yesterday.
At least two permanent employees – a house manager and a cleaner – are being moved to other duties within the Queen's household.
• Harry and Meghan's move turns spotlight on royal truth shrouded in secrecy
• Queen's power play: Hidden message in Harry and Meghan statement
• The photo that revealed early troubles for Harry and Meghan
• Prince William speaks out about Harry and Meghan's split from Royal family
Other members of staff who are used on an ad hoc basis, such as chefs, maids and footmen, have been told their services are no longer required at the couple's Windsor residence.
Sources said Harry and Meghan operated Frogmore, on the Queen's Windsor estate, with a "skeleton staff" and no-one was being made redundant. But it is understood the employees are having to switch jobs as a "knock-on effect" of the couple's decision to relocate to North America for at least part of the year.
The revelation will fuel speculation among palace officials that the Duchess of Sussex, in particular, will never return to Britain to live in a "meaningful" way.
Eight days ago the couple shocked the royals by publicly announcing that they planned to step down as senior working members of the family.
The Queen, Harry's 93-year-old grandmother, was said to be particularly hurt by their decision. On Monday, the monarch, Prince Charles, Prince William and Harry held an unprecedented summit at Sandringham to discuss where they went from here.
Afterwards the Queen issued a rare personal statement that made clear her regret that the Sussexes had decided to step down.
But she said she respected their wish to live a "more independent" life and had given her permission for them to spend time in Canada, as well as the UK, while these '"complex" matters were being resolved.
The biggest sticking points are understood to be the couple's desire to earn their own living and how far they should be allowed to 'commercialise' their roles, as well as what royal duties they will still be expected to carry out.
The British and Canadian governments are also involved in talks about residency and security issues.
A plan is likely to be announced within days. But staff are already being told to expect changes, and the Sussexes' two live-in employees at Frogmore, who stay at the property all year round, have been told they are no longer needed.
A source said: "The workers are already being offered other roles at Buckingham Palace.
"There is a skeleton staff there all the time, consisting of one cleaner and a house manager. Others work as and when needed.
"This has all come as a bit of shock. They took great pride in working for them and being at Frogmore."
When they made their announcement last week, Harry and Meghan made clear they wished to keep the five-bedroom home in Windsor, which was a gift from the Queen. It was previously five separate staff cottages but was knocked into one larger residence, controversially using £2.4 million of taxpayers' money.
On their new website, Harry and Meghan state that the Grade II-listed building in Windsor Home Park was owned by the Queen and was refurbished from the Sovereign Grant, given to her by the Government, as part of her responsibility to "maintain the upkeep of buildings with historical significance".
The site says that expenses relating to fixtures and fitting were met by the couple privately.
The duke and duchess said they wished to continue to use it as their official residence "as they continue to support the monarchy and so that their family will always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom".
It is not clear whether the Queen will accede to that request, although sources have indicated she is privately unhappy at the amount of money spent on it when the couple will be there for significantly less time.
A spokesman for the couple declined to comment.
Several royal sources have told the Daily Mail that regardless of the proposal that is being thrashed out behind closed doors to secure an "exit package" for herself and Harry, they do not believe Meghan will ever return to the UK for any lengthy period of time.
"Outside of anything that is being decided between the private offices [the nerve centres of royal operations] and the British and Canadian governments this week, no-one here believes that the duchess will ever really return to the UK in a meaningful way," one said.
Palace uncertainty has been fuelled by the couple's decision not to bring their eight-month-old son, Archie, back to the UK to spend time with his British relatives – including his great-grandmother the Queen, and his young cousins George, Charlotte and Louis, who he has not seen since at least last autumn.
It has also been compounded by Meghan's determination to "hit the ground running" in Canada by privately visiting charities in the Vancouver area this week.