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Prince Harry and Meghan will not return as working members of royal family

"While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
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LONDON — Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have finalized their split from Britain's royal family.

Just over a year after the couple first announced they would "step back" from their royal duties, and days after they revealed they were expecting their second child, Buckingham Palace said Friday they would not return as working members of the royal family.

"While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family," it said in a statement.

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Following a conversation with Harry, Queen Elizabeth II "has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the royal family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service," the statement said.

"The honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by the Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty," the statement continued, adding that they would be redistributed among working members of the royal family.

A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan said they remained "committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role."

"We can all live a life of service," the spokesperson added. "Service is universal."

This final break completes a dramatic journey for the couple, whose fairytale engagement and wedding quickly went off script amid rumors of a brotherly rift and a tabloid onslaught, which Meghan's supporters say often veered into racist harassment and bullying.

They stunned the British public when they first announced they intended to split with the royal family in January 2020, saying they planned to divide their time between the U.K. and North America.

It was agreed then that the situation would be reviewed after a year.

The couple have since have signed multimillion-dollar deals with Spotify and Netflix.

Earlier this month, Meghan won a privacy lawsuit against a British media company that published parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

She told the High Court in London that media intrusion had caused her "very real sadness" and damaged relationships.

It also emerged in legal documents that she felt "unprotected by the institution" of the royal family, while in the press spotlight during her pregnancy with Archie.

Meghan later revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage in July and wrote about the loss in a New York Times opinion article in November.

The couple will also be interviewed by media mogul Oprah Winfrey in a 90-minute prime-time special set to air on CBS on March 7. The move will no doubt have further ruffled feathers in a family that prefers not to speak publicly about personal affairs.