British Royal Family

ROYAL BOMBSHELL: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to step back from royal duties

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made the unprecedented announcement in the early hours of this morning.

By Jess Pullar
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, have announced they will be stepping back from their royal duties this year as they split their time between the UK and North America.
The couple has shocked royal watchers sharing a lengthy statement on their Instagram page, Sussex Royal, on Wednesday, January 8 (UK time) announcing their intentions to leave The Firm and even become "financially independent".
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are stepping back from their royal duties this year. (Getty)
"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," the pair wrote.
"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."
The pair explained that it is with their fans encouragement that they plan to make the transition, and they will continue to honour their time between supporting the Queen and their various 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."
WATCH: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry arrive for an engagement in London. Story continues...
The royal couple finished their post: "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 news has come as a shock to royal watchers, especially given the pair had just made their first official royal appearance of 2020 at Canada House in London just this week.

As parents to eight-month-old Archie, it's been well documented that the pair have struggled with the intense scrutiny they've received from the media.
In fact, the pair even chose to take an unexpected six week hiatus in the lead up to Christmas in 2019, where they spent time in Canada with Archie, and Meghan's mum Doria Ragland.
Just before that, a bombshell documentary was released which laid bare both Meghan and Harry's struggles in the spotlight.
Meghan and Harry will now split their time between the UK and the United States. (Getty)
In the ITV documentary, Harry and Meghan: And African Journey, the new mum was visibly upset when she described the intensity of pressure put on her as a royal family member.
Describing her reception from the British public, Meghan stated that she didn't think it would be easy but, "I thought that it would be fair".
"It's not enough to just survive something, that's not the point of life, you've got to thrive and feel happy," she continued.
"I've really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip... I've tried, I've really tried."
Meghan laid bare her struggles in the unprecedented documentary, which was released in October 2019. (Getty)
Meanwhile, Prince Harry also explained how the increased pressure on himself and Meghan had a severe impact on his mental health, sparking some of his old issues to resurface.
"It's management. It's constant management," he said.
"I thought I was out of the woods and then suddenly it all came back and I suddenly realised, 'Actually this is something that I have to manage.' "
WATCH: Meghan Markle admits she's "not okay" in Meghan and Harry: An African Journey. Story continues...:
Coinciding with the couple's latest announcement comes a brand new website, which has now officially launched.
Sussexroyal.com will house information on a number of the pair's patronages, detailing the charities they work closely with.
It is expected that the couple will use this website as a hub of all the work they do beyond being members of the royal family.
The pair have launched a new website, Sussexroyal.com, which will house information on the charities they are working with. (Getty)

Palace responds to Harry and Meghan's shock decision

In yet another unexpected move, the Palace has now publicly responded to Meghan and Harry's decision, sharing a statement explaining that the discussions are in "early stages".
"We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through," the statement read.
This suggests the palace is contradicting the pair's announcement, and is further exacerbated by reports that the Queen and Prince Charles were not aware of the content of the Duke and Duchess' statement before it was published.
The Palace has issued an unexpected response to Meghan and Harry's statement. (Getty)