In a royal bombshell, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced they are stepping back as senior royals and will be splitting their time between the UK and Canada.
The announcement was made the day after they entered back into the spotlight following a six week break in the North American country.
"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," they announced in an Instagram post.
"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.
"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 has come after months of intense media scrutiny, heightened after an ITV documentary on their October tour of Southern Africa aired.
The royal pair made a number of candid confessions in the doco Harry and Meghan: An African Adventure, admitting they've struggled behind the scenes as working members of the royal family.
Meghan, in particular, has found it difficult to adjust to royal life, revealing that her British friends warned her against marrying into the royal family, telling her the British tabloids would destroy her life.
"I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair," she lamented to interviewer Tom Bradbury. "And that's the part that's really hard to reconcile."
Watch: Duchess Meghan's heartbreaking confession about the pressure of life in the spotlight. Article continues below.
She went on to say "It's not enough to just survive something, right? Like, that's not the point of life. You've got to thrive, you've got to feel happy."
Harry, too, made his own confessions in the documentary, addressing rumours of rift between he and his brother Prince William. "Part of this role and part of this job and this family being under the pressure that it's under inevitably, you know, stuff happens. But look, we're brothers. We'll always be brothers.
"We're certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him and as I know he'll always be there for me."
The Prince also spoke of the pressure he feels as a member of the royal family and in particular the media's presence which he said reminds him of "the bad stuff" - referring to the scrutiny his mother Princess Diana was under and ultimately her death in Paris in 1997 after being pursued by paparazzi.
"I think being part of this family, in this role and this job - every time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash – it takes me straight back. So in that respect, it's the worst reminder of her life as opposed to the best."
Harry and Meghan will reveal more about their future plans in the coming months but it's safe to say, for now at least, scrutiny will only intensify rather than wane, especially considering the blunt response issued by Buckingham Palace following the announcement:
"Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at any early stage," it read. "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
- RoyalsPrincess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank have revealed the name of their son
Now To LoveFeb 21, 2021
- RoyalsPrince Harry and Duchess Meghan are having another baby!
Now To LoveFeb 15, 2021
- RoyalsPrincess Eugenie & husband Jack Brooksbank have welcomed their first child
Now To LoveFeb 10, 2021
- TVThe Bachelorette NZ's Paul Patterson: 'I'm cooking up romance'
Woman's DayFeb 03, 2021
- MindBeating the bottle: My party girl life was killing me
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyJan 25, 2021
- TVOur broody Bachelorette: 'David Attenborough is my dream man'
Woman's DayJan 20, 2021
- Celebrity NewsJay-Jay Feeney and Paul Flynn: our perfect friendship
Woman's DayJan 08, 2021
- CompetitionsWin a double pass to our exclusive screening of Penguin Bloom
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyDec 27, 2020