Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are stepping down from royal family roles — and many are cheering them on

Erin Donnelly

It’s a royal shake-up for the Sussexes.

Months after speaking out on the intense media scrutiny they’ve faced, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have announced plans to “step back” from their high-profile royal duties in favor of a “progressive new role within this institution.” A statement released by the couple — who spent the holidays in Canada with son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor — on Wednesday confirms that they will divide their family’s time between the U.K. and North America, and “work to become financially independent.”

The announcement— which comes just one day after the duke and duchess paid a visit to Canada House in London to give thanks for the hospitality they received over the holidays — spoke of a “new charitable entity” while stating that they would continue to support Queen Elizabeth II and raise 8-month-old son Archie “with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born.”

“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,” Meghan and Harry’s statement reads. “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.”

Buckingham Palace has issued a statement responding to the move, calling the break “complicated.”

Royal correspondents are also reporting that the royal family was blindsided by the news and are “disappointed.”

While the break from the royal family is bound to send shockwaves, it’s not entirely unexpected given recent reports of strife between Harry and brother Prince William. Recent posts from the royal family have focused on the queen and her heirs — Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George — while Harry is sixth in line to the throne.

And then there’s the thorny relationship between the couple, who wed in 2018, and the media. In October, they filed legal action against British newspaper publishers over what Harry called a “ruthless campaign” against his wife. Soon after, they appeared in an ITV and ABC News documentary in which they spoke about the pressures facing them, particularly as “vulnerable” new parents.

“My deepest fear is history repeating itself,” Harry said in a statement announcing his lawsuit, in which he referenced his mother Princess Diana’s invasion of privacy and subsequent death. “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. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

By moving to North America and becoming financially independent, the pair are also essentially calling the bluff of critics like Piers Morgan who complained that they should “go back to America” if they had any expectation of privacy. It also begs the question: Will the former actress, who lived in Canada while shooting Suits, return to her acting roots to help support her family?

Either way, many on Twitter are lauding the couple for distancing themselves from the negative media attention. Morgan, meanwhile, responded to the news by blaming Meghan for separating her husband from his family.

One new development: The launch of a Sussex Royal website, which suggests that Meghan and Harry intend to keep their royal titles. It also clarifies their plans for the future, including retaining Frogmore Cottage as their official U.K. residence, earning a professional income and being financially autonomous by paying for their own travel costs — including commercial flights, trains and fuel-efficient vehicles — unless security concerns say otherwise.

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