Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced their decision to “step back” from their current duties in the British Royal Family and strike out on their own in a new “progressive” role, marking a seismic shift for the institution.

Taking to Instagram this morning, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their decision 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.”

Prince Harry and Meghan, plus young bub Archie, will no longer be solely based in the United Kingdom: The couple says they will split their time between the UK and North America – Markle is, of course, American – in order “to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”

The couple said they will continue to convene with Harry’s grandma, dad, and brother to suss out the next move.

“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,” they said.

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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. 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 Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA

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Look, I don’t want to get all BuT rOyAl PrOtOcOl! about this, but the announcement really is noteworthy.

As the youngest adult faces in the picture, you’d be forgiven for thinking Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would hang around to help modernise the Royal Family’s ornamental appearance. This is hardly a clean cut, but it is a significant departure from the path established by Prince William and Princess Kate. 

It’s also not entirely unexpected. In recent months, the couple has been unusually candid about the pressures of life in the Royal Family and the intrusions of the media, suggesting they’ve been wanting to crawl back from the public eye for a while.

There’s also the matter of Prince Harry’s ongoing lawsuit against British tabloids The Sun and The Daily Mirror for alleged phone hacking.

Expect to see the pair out and about in the upcoming months – perhaps even in Canada, where they’ve just spent the past six weeks on holiday. Christ, maybe this is just a ploy for Markle to hop back to Toronto to finish filming Suits…

Image: Karwai Tang / WireImage