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News in 5: Harry and Meghan returning to the UK, Weinstein in 'disbelief,' Jacinda Ardern in Sydney.

1. Harry and Meghan preparing for last UK royal duties, as it’s announced Canada will no longer pay their security.

The Duchess of Sussex hasn’t set foot in the United Kingdom for two months, leaving the country once she and Prince Harry announced their family would be stepping back as ‘senior’ royals, moving to Canada and becoming financially independent.

Now, the date has been set for what’s expected to be Harry and Meghan’s final official engagements together as senior members of the Royal Family.

On March 5, the couple will celebrate the achievements of wounded service personnel in London.

Harry is already back in the country – his first visit since relocating, and he told people once touching down in his former home to just call him ‘Harry’ – dropping the pretence of his royal title.

 

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“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. 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. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. 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. This geographic balance will enable us 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, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

But the timing of Harry and Meghan’s return is set to clash with the Cambridge’s historic tour of Ireland and the scheduling overlap is being labelled a “sign of bad communication” between the two royal households.

“For the last two years they have been clashing. People are not talking to each other. We used to have communication between all the households, so there weren’t clashes,” former palace insider Dickie Arbiter told The Times.

A senior royal source also told The Sun this kind of diary error wouldn’t have happened in happier times for the royal family.

After the Endeavour Fund Awards recognising sick and injured members of the armed services, the Sussexes will attend the Mountbatten Festival of Music, at the Royal Albert Hall in London on March 7.

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Meghan will mark International Women’s Day the following day and then on March 9, the couple will join the Queen and other members of the family for the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, honouring the 53 Commonwealth countries.

That might just be the last time the couple will be seen in their official royal roles, as their official resignation date is March 31.

It’s also come to light that Canadian taxpayers will stop paying for the couple’s security “within weeks”.

They have been doing so since November 2019, but a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told Global News that won’t be the case for much longer.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing to relocate to Canada on a part-time basis presented our government with a unique and unprecedented set of circumstances,” said Blair in a statement on Thursday.

“The RCMP has been engaged with officials in the UK from the very beginning regarding security considerations. As the duke and duchess are currently recognised as Internationally Protected Persons, Canada has an obligation to provide security assistance on an as needed basis.

“The assistance will cease in the coming weeks, in keeping with their change in status,” the statement concluded.

2. Harvey Weinstein “still in disbelief” over rape conviction.

Harvey Weinstein has been a convicted rapist for five days now, after being found guilty in a New York court on Monday of assaulting Miriam Haley in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann in 2013.

He is yet to see the inside of a jail cell, instead he’s been kept in the prison ward of Bellevue Hospital where he was diverted to after his court appearance.

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His lawyer, Arthur Aidala, told Variety over the phone late on Wednesday night, “He’s still in disbelief of the charges he was convicted of. He’s very consistent about his innocence”.

Harvey Weinstein jail time
After being convicted Weinstein said: ‘I’m innocent, I’m innocent, I’m innocent. How could this happen in America?': Getty.

"He's realistic, and he knows he's got a major problem. He's not delusional," Aidala continued, when asked what Weinstein is thinking.

"But at the same time, we didn't get into anything about him being apologetic. He's very consistent that he didn't do anything wrong - he didn't do anything against anyone's will," he added.

More than 90 women have come forward and accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Rose McGowan, and Angelina Jolie.

Weinstein is reportedly in relatively good spirits.

"It wasn't like he was sitting there in a cage - it looked like a regular hospital room with a regular hospital bed," said Aidala.

Weinstein was supposed to be transported to his new home on Rikers Island, a sprawling prison complex which has a reputation for being particularly violent and brutal.

But CNN reports an ambulance carrying the convicted rapist was diverted from Rikers to Bellevue Hospital after the convicted rapist started having heart palpitations due to his high blood pressure.

He is due to be sentenced on March 11, and then has another trial to prepare for in LA where he is facing eight allegations.

3. NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney to meet with Scott Morrison.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived in Sydney ahead of talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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"The last 12 months has, if nothing else, demonstrated just how close New Zealand and Australia are," Ardern said ahead of Thursday's flight across the Tasman Sea.

Morrison and Ardern remain close despite sitting on opposite sides of politics, with completely contrasting leadership styles.

JACINDA ARDERN AUSTR
New Zealand Prime Minister arrived in Sydney last night ahead of talks today. Jacinda Ardern Image: AAP/ Rick Rycroft.

"Whether it's the fires in Australia, and the hundreds of personnel that have gone from New Zealand to Australia to support them, or Whakaari White Island, or coronavirus, we've had plenty of examples ... where we have been extraordinarily close," she told reporters.

But that doesn't mean she doesn't have some issues of contention with Morrison.

Ardern has criticised Australia for promoting fossil fuels, and has herself enshrined into law a pathway to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 - a topic she says she "won't bother" to raise in Sydney.

She has, however, pledged to discuss the "corrosive" issue of deportations which has seen hundreds of New Zealanders, some with limited links to their country of birth, deported from Australia after committing serious crimes.

One of the most high-profile cases involves AFL star Dustin Martin's father who was deported to New Zealand after living in Australia for 20 years because of his links to the Rebels bikie club.

-With AAP

Feature image: Getty.

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