Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to 'step back as senior members of the Royal Family'

The couple say they will "work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen."

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By Henry Austin

LONDON — Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, on Wednesday announced their own Brexit from the royal family.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stunned their subjects with the announcement that they intend to "step back" from Buckingham Palace, divide their time between the United Kingdom and North America — and even start paying their own bills.

"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 said in a statement.

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"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."

They're also planning to establish a part-time home somewhere in North America.

"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," the couple said.

It is far from a complete break. The couple, in a statement that was also posted to their Instagram page, insisted that they would continue to collaborate with Queen Elizabeth II, Harry's grandmother, and with his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William.

In a statement remarkable for its chilly brevity, Buckingham Palace made it clear that this is not a done deal.

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

The government supports the royal family to the tune of 67 million pounds a year, or about $87.7 million U.S., according to the most recent figures released by Buckingham Palace.

Speculation about the future of the power couple has been rife in Britain after the pair spent Christmas in Canada on an extended break from royal duties.

That came after an emotional appearance in a documentary by the British broadcaster ITV, in which they spoke about the pressures they have been facing and family rifts.

The couple have also been battling the British tabloids.

Shortly following the birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in May, the pair sued The Mail on Sunday's parent company, Associated Newspapers, after the tabloid published a private letter written by Meghan.

The royal couple also filed a claim against Associated Newspapers in October for the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the United Kingdom's Data Protection Act 2018, according to the law firm representing them.

Harry also penned a scathing statement against the British tabloids for a "ruthless campaign" against his wife.

"I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person," he said. "I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

Harry's mother, Princess Diana, died in a 1997 car accident while trying to escape paparazzi in Paris.

The British tabloids have intensely scrutinized Meghan, publishing stories about her estranged family following her engagement to Harry. She was also attacked for guest-editing an issue of British Vogue.

The pair were also blasted as hypocrites for using a private jet to travel with their young son despite their stated support for environmental causes.

Doha Madani contributed.