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Prince Harry and Meghan to step back as ‘senior’ UK royals

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visit Canada House in London on January 7, 2020.
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visit Canada House in London on January 7, 2020. © REUTERS pool

In a stunning declaration, Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, said they are planning “to step back” as senior members of the royal family and “work to become financially independent".

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A statement issued by the couple Wednesday evening also said they intend to “balance” their time between the UK and North America.

Harry, 35, is currently sixth in line to the throne, and media speculation had been rife that he and Meghan, 38, planned to step back from public life ever since their return this month from a six-week holiday in Canada.

“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 couple said in a statement. “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."

Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying discussions with Harry and Meghan over their future role were at an early stage.

"We understand their desire to take a different approach but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through," the palace said. "Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage."

Harry and Meghan married in May 2018 in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London. In May 2019 the couple, known formally as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, had their first child, a boy they named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

Last year, Harry said he had had disagreements with his older brother, Prince William, who is second in line to the throne, and both Harry and Meghan have had a tense relationship with some British newspapers.

Last October, Meghan started legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over the publication of a private letter.

Harry described the treatment of his wife as "bullying", likening it to that his mother Princess Diana suffered before her death in a Paris car accident in 1997 when her limousine crashed as it sped away from chasing paparazzi.

The couple said splitting their time between Britain and North America "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".

This would include the launch of a new charity, Harry and Meghan said, adding that they planned to work to become financially independent.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)

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