In Brief

Harry and Meghan step back as senior royals - reaction

Couple say they will split their time between UK and North America

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced plans to step back as “senior” members of the Royal Family and strive to become financially independent.

Prince Harry and Meghan also say they plan to split their time between the UK and North America.

In an unexpected statement on their Instagram page, the couple said they made the decision “after many months of reflection and internal discussions”.

They added: “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.”

According to reports, no other royals - including the Queen or Prince William - were consulted before the statement. Buckingham Palace said it was “disappointed” by the news, and senior royals are reported to be “hurt”.

The Sun says there is “civil war” in the monarchy, while the Daily Mail claims in a “royal bombshell special issue” that the Queen is “furious”. 

The couple have had a “turbulent year”, during which they have been “criticised for decisions including flying by private jet while urging people to act on climate change”, reports The Times.

The Duke and Duchess have “long had a fraught relationship with sections of the British media”, adds CNN.

The couple announced last October that Meghan was suing The Mail on Sunday, after the newspaper published a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father. The news came as Harry made an impassioned attack on the tabloid press.

However, the BBC points to rifts closer to home. Royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said: “This is clearly a major rift between Harry and Meghan on one part, and the rest of the Royal Family on the other.”

Former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter compared the move to Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 in order to marry twice-divorced Wallis Simpson.

“That is the only other precedent, but there’s been nothing like this in modern times,” Arbiter said.

Royal author Penny Junor told Sky News she “can’t quite see how it’s going to work”, adding: “I don’t think it’s been properly thought through.”

Piers Morgan, a long-standing critic of the Duchess, tweeted: “People say I’m too critical of Meghan Markle - but she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William & has now split him from the Royal Family. I rest my case.”

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