Prince Harry and his wife, former American actress Meghan Markle, recently shocked the world by saying they are stepping back from their senior roles in the British Royal family.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Wednesday January 8th announced on Instagram that they are stepping back from their royal duties due to the high pressure they are facing under the media spotlight.
"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", read the Instagram post.
Harry and Meghan also announced that they would be splitting their time from now on between the United Kingdom and North America.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages," noted the Instagram post, citing the need for “space”.
"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 thanked their fans for their support from all over the world, adding that they plan on sharing any future updates regarding their small family on Instagram.
Sixth in line to the throne, Prince Harry's latest decision appears to have taken his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, by surprise.
"We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through", Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, tied the knot at Saint George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on May 19th 2018, in a historic wedding ceremony which cost more than $40 million.
One year later, the royal couple welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Harry and Meghan's relationship has long been under the spotlight, and they have been struggling to find a private life for their family away from public scrutiny.
Harry had previously described the press treatment of his wife as being akin to "bullying", linking it to that of his late mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in Paris in 1997 while trying to escape from paparazzi.
"I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum," Harry said.
"I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair, and that is the part that is really hard to reconcile," Meghan said of her privacy struggles.
On their new website, the couple said that they would no longer take part in the royal rota, an established arrangement system between the royal palace and the press in which news organisations take turns in covering royal events. Instead, the couple will only invite "specialist, grassroots, and credible" media to events.
Harry had previously admitted to having some disagreements with his brother, Prince William, who is second in line to the throne, claiming that he and his brother were on "different paths". It’s unclear if this is related to the announcement.
"We don't see each other as much as we used to because we are so busy, but I love him dearly," Harry said of his brother William in a TV interview.
Media speculation has circulated over how Harry and Meghan would achieve their financial independence. Some say that Meghan could be resuming her acting career.
Many royal historians have keenly compared Harry's case with that of Edward VIII, who found himself compelled to give up the British throne in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, leaving behind the British monarchy.
Following the announcement, the mood in Buckingham palace was understood to be one of disappointment and even "hurt", according to the BBC.
The couple are considered core members of the British royal family, and, along with Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were widely seen as the monarchy's future.