Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to step back from official royal duties

Prince Harry and Meghan have announced they will "step back" as senior members of the royal family and will now divide their time between the UK and North America.

The couple's groundbreaking decision came in a statement on Wednesday, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they will work to become financially independent, while continuing to "fully support" the Queen.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced that they're stepping away from royal life. Photo: Getty Images

"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 couple said in their 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.

"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."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry married in a lavish wedding ceremony in 2018. Photo: Getty Images

he couple's move follows weeks of speculation about their future after they took an extended break from royal duties over the festive period that followed an emotional appearance in a documentary.

In the program, Harry and Meghan spoke about the pressures they have been facing and family rifts, and in a separate move Harry issued a damning statement against the media accusing sections of the press of bullying his wife.

Harry and Meghan married in May 2018 in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London, and in May 2019 the couple, known formally as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, had their first child, a boy they named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

Harry, 35, is currently sixth in line to the throne, and media speculation had been rife that he and Meghan, 38, planned to step back from public life ever since their return this month from a six-week holiday in Canada.

Reporting by AAP

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