Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce plans to 'step back' as senior members of royal family
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are making a dramatic move. The royal couple announced on Wednesday that they intend to “step back as senior members of the Royal Family,” and they are making plans to split their time between the U.K. and North America.
“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 wrote on Instagram. “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 transition means they will no longer be based full-time in the U.K., the country where the British royal family has reigned for centuries. Harry is currently sixth in line to the throne, behind his father, Prince Charles, brother, Prince William, and William’s three children George, Charlotte and Louis.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, spent their first holiday season as a family of three with son Archie, 8 months, on Vancouver Island. The palace confirmed that the family were “spending private family time in Canada” ahead of Christmas.
The couple have history with the North American country, which is part of the commonwealth, a group of nations with close ties to the Crown. Meghan called Toronto home for years while she filmed her hit USA legal drama Suits, and she was living there when she and Harry first began dating. The couple’s first public appearance together was in support of Harry’s Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017.
“Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging,” Meghan told ITV journalist Tom Bradby about the stress of living in the spotlight during her pregnancy and following Archie’s birth. “And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it’s a lot. So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed . . . thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m okay.”
When Bradby asked if it “would be fair” to say that she’s “not really okay” Meghan responded, “Yes.”
Soon after, they announced that they would be taking “much-needed family time,” away from royal duty — which brought them to Canada.
On Jan. 3, music producer David Foster revealed to the Daily Mail that he arranged for the royal couple and their son, born May 6, to stay at a Vancouver Island mansion owned by a close friend, although he declined to name the owner.
“I felt honored that I was able to help Meghan there, because I’m a Canadian and we’re a commonwealth country, we’re the Crown’s. It’s important to us, so I grew up with that kind of sentiment,” Foster told the Daily Mail. “I was really happy to be able to help them to find a respite just to take a little time off.”
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He added, “The owner has allowed this to happen through me, and I was happy to facilitate. I don’t know what their next plans are, but I know that it was reinvigorating for them to spend some downtime. This is a great testament to my hometown of Victoria that they were able to go under the radar for so long.”
In a Dec. 20 statement released by the palace, the couple shared their attraction to America’s neighboring northern country. “The decision to base themselves in Canada reflects the importance of this commonwealth country to them both,” the statement said.
The statement continued, “The Duke of Sussex has been a frequent visitor to Canada over many years, and it was also home to The Duchess for seven years before she became a member of the Royal Family. They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son.”
This article originally appeared on People.com