The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, dropped a bombshell Wednesday when they announced they are stepping back from the royal family in a bid to become financially independent.
Taking to their Instagram to make the unexpected announcement, the couple also affirmed their support for the queen.
“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 announcement read.
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“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,” they said, adding that they are splitting their time and residency between the United Kingdom and North America.
“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,” they explained.
The unprecedented announcement was widely received with shock, with BBC reporting that neither the Queen nor Prince William was pre-informed about the announcement, adding that the Buckingham Palace is “disappointed”.
A statement from the Royal Communications after the announcement confirmed discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, albeit currently 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.”
The couple, who married in a lavish ceremony in 2018, have reportedly been at the center of unabated negative press, particularly from the British media. A section of people allude the constant harassment to Markle’s race, as her mother is black.
In October 2018, Prince Harry reportedly filed claims against the owners of the Sun and Daily Mirror, accusing them of phone hacking. The Duchess also sued the Mail on Sunday over allegations of illegally publishing a private handwritten letter she wrote to her father after their wedding.
In a statement after the lawsuit, Prince Harry likened the harassment to what led to her mother’s fatal accident.
“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces,” he said.
Markle also opened up in an exclusive ITV special, explaining that “it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes” when she was asked how she was dealing with the pressures of motherhood and the tabloids.
She said to interviewer Tom Bradby: “Any woman, especially when they are pregnant, you’re really vulnerable… And then when you have a newborn, you know…”
Markle added: “…And also, thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I am okay”. When Bradby enquired if it would be fair to say she’s not been okay, Markle replied, “Yes”.
The couple’s decision to step back means they will no longer participate in the Rota System, which gives “UK print and broadcast media exclusive inside access to the official engagements of members of the Royal Family.”
According to the couple, they will be “adopting a revised media approach to ensure diverse and open access to their work” in the Spring of 2020, a statement from the SussexRoyal website read.
Take a look at the reactions to their announcement below: