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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce they’ll ‘step back’ as ‘senior members of the Royal Family’

2020-01-08

It’s the royal flush.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced Wednesday that they were stepping back from their role as “senior members of the royal family” and would work to become financially independent.

“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,” they said in a statement. “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 plan to balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America, “continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth and our patronages,” the royal couple said.

Their aim is partly to be able to raise their son both with an appreciation for his royal heritage, and support their family while launching a new charitable entity.

The Royal Family implied in its own statement that the move is anything but a done deal.

““Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” the Palace said. "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”

“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

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The couple did not give details of their plan, though rumors swirling earlier in the day had hinted that they may relocate to Canada — rumors that the Royal Palace had “refused to deny,” The Independent reported. The royal pair just returned from an extended, weeks-long holiday stay in that Commonwealth country. Markle, born in Los Angeles, lived for several years in Canada while filming the television series “Suits.”

Reasons for the step-back and details of exactly what it would entail would be forthcoming, they said.

“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,” the two said. "Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”

Markle had been open about her struggle as a new mom in the spotlight, noting in an October interview that “not many people have asked if I’m ok” and that “it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”

Some of it was related to coverage in the British tabloid press, which the two deemed hurtful. Prince Harry had announced his intent to sue at least one publication for printing a private letter Markle had sent to her estranged father.

“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” the prince said in the statement, referring to his late mother, Princess Diana, who died fleeing paparazzi when he was just 12. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

At about the same time, People reported, Harry also opened up a little about how things stood with his elder brother, Prince William, acknowledging that although they would always be there for each other, “we’re certainly on different paths at the moment.”