Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the queen and the world by announcing they were “stepping back” as senior members of the royal family, with a view to splitting their time between the U.K. and North America—most likely Canada.
The couple wish to become “financially independent,” they said.
Buckingham Palace was said to be “disappointed” by the announcement, according to BBC reporter Jonny Dymond. No other member of the royal family was consulted prior to the announcement being made, he said.
After the announcement, a Palace spokesperson said, “Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
In an earlier statement issued via the Sussex Royal Instagram account, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “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 honor 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 announcement shatters any hopes that Meghan and Harry would return from a recent six-week sabbatical from royal life ready to conform to the norms of royal life.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of an unusually detailed and well-sourced leak to the Sun newspaper, which suggested that they were annoyed at their exclusion from recent royal iconography, were thinking of renouncing their HRH status and could be moving to Canada.
The move follows a tumultuous year for Harry and Meghan, as they revealed in an ITV documentary presented by their friend, the newscaster Tom Bradby, in which they spoke about their discontent with their royal lives, and the media attention they received.
Meghan told Bradby: “I've really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I've tried, I've really tried. But I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging. The biggest thing that I know is that I never thought this would be easy. But I thought it would be fair. And that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile.”
A source told the Sun: “It is true that Harry and Meghan will spend a fair amount of time in Canada over the next couple of months and possibly going forward too. Right now they are starting talks with their family about their plans for the future. Those conversations are at a very early stage.
“There is a very careful and serious process to go through which they are going to respect. But it is clear they are on a different and unique path, and they are very much thinking about what the future looks like for them.”
Harry and Meghan made two public appearances this week—their first in almost two months—including a visit to Canada House in London to thank the Canadians for their hospitality, having stayed at a gated mansion on Vancouver Island for much of their stay.
Basing themselves on the west coast of Canada could make sense for the couple to put them in the same time zone as Meghan's mother Doria Ragland and their new American PR company, Sunshine Sachs—both in Los Angeles (another possible location for them to live). Meghan lived in Toronto for several years while shooting the series Suits.