Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announce plans to step back from royal duties

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say they plan to focus on their financial independence, which comes amid speculation they plan a move to North America

In a move that has raised eyebrows on both sides of the Atlantic, Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle announced Wednesday that they are stepping back from their duties as senior members of the royal family and plan to split their time between the U.K. and North America.

According to E!, the couple, took to their official Instagram page to break the news to their followers.

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“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 statement began. “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,” they continued. “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,” Harry and Meghan concluded. “Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”

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While this unprecedented move will surely be dissected by pundits across the world, this should come as no surprise to those who have watched the couple, particularly Markle, buckle under the constant scrutiny and public attacks made by the British media.

Rumor has recently surfaced that the couple had been planning a move to Canada, according to the Daily Mail. But Royal Family officials told the newspaper that they would not respond to ‘speculation.’