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Prince Harry and Meghan stepping away from "senior" royal roles

Harry & Meghan stepping away from senior roles

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are stepping away from "senior" royal roles and will work toward becoming financially independent, they announced on Wednesday. They will now be dividing their time between Britain and 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," they said in the statement.

Harry and Meghan, whose son Archie will celebrate his first birthday in May, did not specify what they mean by "financially independent" or explain how they plan to earn money. In a statement on a new website, sussexroyal.com, they said they hope to keep their residence at Frogmore Cottage, located at Windsor, which they recently renovated. 

"Frogmore Cottage will continue to be the property of Her Majesty the Queen," the website said. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to use Frogmore Cottage – with the permission of Her Majesty The Queen – as their official residence as they continue to support the Monarchy, and so that their family will always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom." 

Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying "discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are 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." 

Prince Harry and Meghan stepping back from royal duties

Harry and Meghan are not the first members of the royal family to step away from public duties, although they are the highest in the line of succession. For example, Princess Anne's children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, are not "working" members of the royal family and Prince Andrew's daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, do not have have official roles in the monarchy. 

Prince Andrew, the queen's second son, stepped away from public duties as a member of the royal family in November while mired in controversy over his association with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein

In their statement, Harry and Meghan said they wanted to "carve out a progressive new role within this institution."  

In a documentary that aired in October, Harry and Meghan spoke publicly about the difficulties of living in the spotlight. 

"I think being part of this family — in this role, in this job — every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back," said Harry, alluding to the 1997 death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash when he was 12 years old. "In that respect, it's the worst reminder of her life as opposed to the best."  

Harry and Meghan started a new website called "Sussex Royal" and said they would be adopting a "revised media approach" in the spring of 2020. "This adjustment will be a phased approach as they settle into the new normality of their updated roles," the website said in the "Media" section. 

According to the website, Harry and Meghan will no longer be using the "rota" or pool system, and the system of Royal Correspondents. "Britain's Royal Correspondents are regarded internationally as credible sources of both the work of members of The Royal Family as well as of their private lives," the website reads. "This misconception propels coverage that is often carried by other outlets around the world, amplifying frequent misreporting. Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by Royal Correspondents are, also, often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions."

The site said Harry and Meghan will continue to use social media. 

Meghan, who worked as an actress and philanthropist before marrying Harry, listed her professional experience and called herself a feminist in her official biography on the royal family's  website. "I am proud to be a woman and a feminist," the page quotes her as saying.

Britain's The Sun newspaper reported on Wednesday that the pair were considering moving to Canada, although Meghan and Harry did not specify where in North America they would live. They made headlines recently when they spent Christmas in Canada, rather than with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the family in England.

The royal family's cost to taxpayers is source of controversy in Britain. The Sovereign Grant, the funding provided to the royal family, cost British taxpayers £76.1 million, or $99 million, in 2017-18, according to BBC News. Travel as part of royal duties are included in those costs.

Harry and Meghan recently attracted some scrutiny for a trip to Ibiza, though it was not an official taxpayer-funded trip. The pair were criticized for using four private jets on the trip despite Harry's commitment to environmental issues.

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