Harry and Meghan to step back as senior royals and become financially ...

Harry and Meghan have quit as senior royals and revealed they will live between the UK and North America while working to become financially independent.  

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their announcement in a statement on their official Instagram account this evening. 

They wrote: '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. 

'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. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.

'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. 

Harry and Meghan released a statement accompanied with this picture on their official Instagram account in which they today revealed that they will be stepping down as senior royals

Harry and Meghan released a statement accompanied with this picture on their official Instagram account in which they today revealed that they will be stepping down as senior royals 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released this statement this evening announcing that they will be quitting as senior Royals

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released this statement this evening announcing that they will be quitting as senior Royals 

'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. 

'We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.' 

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan slammed Meghan as he blamed her for splitting up the Royal Family, writing on Twitter: '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 and has now split him from the Royal Family. I rest my case.'

The Duke and Duchess (pictured, yesterday at Canada House in London) were said to be looking at making the move across the Atlantic where they would be based for a significant part of the year. Rumours abounded before they confirmed this evening that they would be splitting their time between the UK and North America

The Duke and Duchess (pictured, yesterday at Canada House in London) were said to be looking at making the move across the Atlantic where they would be based for a significant part of the year. Rumours abounded before they confirmed this evening that they would be splitting their time between the UK and North America 

Piers, who has had a long-running feud with Meghan since he accused the former Suits actress of 'ghosting' him, also referenced a quote attributed to Harry after the duke reportedly told Kensington Palace staff 'what Meghan wants, Meghan gets' as they prepared to move out in 2018.

The couple's move follows weeks of speculation about their future after they took an extended break from royal duties over the festive period that followed an emotional appearance in a documentary.

In the ITV programme they spoke about the pressures they have been facing and family rifts, and in a separate move Harry issued a damning statement against the media accusing sections of the press of bullying his wife.  

The family spent Christmas in Canada and Harry posed for a picture with his little boy Archie, who the couple have said they will raise with a respect for the tradition into which he was born

The family spent Christmas in Canada and Harry posed for a picture with his little boy Archie, who the couple have said they will raise with a respect for the tradition into which he was born 

Harry and Meghan have only recently returned from their six-week break spent in the Canadian province of British Columbia with their eight-month-old son Archie.

Their first royal engagement of the new decade was to visit Canada's High Commission in central London to thank Canadians in person for the warmth of the welcome they received.

It is likely they will be spending their time in the Commonwealth country when not in UK and may travel to America, Meghan's homeland and where her mother lives.

Any move to Canada, even for a period of the year, would throw up important questions about Meghan and Harry's long-term future within the royal family.

Meghan, a former actress, lived and worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama Suits, and the couple were famously pictured together when Meghan joined her then-boyfriend Harry at the 2017 Invictus Games in the city.

The cost of security for the couple would also be an issue, and as Canada is a realm, a country where the Queen is head of state, it may have to pay for keeping the couple and their son Archie safe.

The couple's aim to be 'financially independent' may point towards them seeking a job, or a paid role with an organisation whose aims compliment their own beliefs.

Other members of the monarchy who have salaried jobs include the Queen's grandchildren Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Peter Phillips, who all work for a living.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's dramatic decision to quit their roles as senior royals comes after a turbulent year. There was joy for Harry and Meghan with the arrival of their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.

But the lows included rows over privacy, rifts with relatives, the launch of legal action and an attack on the press which overshadowed an official royal tour.

Even the Queen in her Christmas Day address spoke of the 'bumpy' path her family and the nation had experienced.

Harry and Meghan's statement announcing their decision soon after their return from a six-week break in Canada refers to their 'many months of reflection and internal discussions'. 

Their shock move comes just 19 months after they wed in a televised ceremony in the grand surroundings of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. 

The Duke and Duchess were said to be looking at making the move across the Atlantic where they would be based for a significant part of the year, as they 'consider their future' and reassess their role within the royal household. 

Sources had said that the couple would start discussing their plans with senior royals — expected to include the Queen and Prince Charles  — in the coming days, but the Palace told MailOnline that they would not comment on 'speculation.'  

How will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live in Canada? Couple could lose £2m from Royal purse each year - but British taxpayers face picking up '£600,000 annual security bill' 

By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter for MailOnline and Ed Riley for MailOnline

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could lose £2 million-a-year from the Royal purse after they announced they would be 'stepping back' from being senior members of the royal family.

Despite the couple having announced they would be splitting their time between North America and the UK, British tax payers could still be picking up a £600,000 annual security bill for the pair and their son baby Archie.

The couple recently returned from a six-week break in Canada over the festive period, where they spent their first Christmas together as a family at a £10.7million home in Vancouver Island.

Just last night it was revealed that the couple had started discussing their plans with senior royals — expected to include the Queen and Prince Charles, but the Palace told MailOnline that they would not comment on 'speculation.' 

This evening the couple took to Instagram where they shared the announcement, along with a picture of the pair smiling. 

They snubbed a royal Christmas at Sandringham just days after Prince Philip was taken to hospital, and instead spent time with Meghan's mother Doria Ragland at the luxury retreat.  

ITV News at Ten host Tom Bradby, close friends with the couple, told Good Morning Britain today that it was 'no big secret' that they have been considering what their future roles within the royal family will be. 

The move - dismissed as 'speculation' by the Palace - comes after a tough year for the couple, with royal insiders saying they felt sidelined by the monarchy, as they launched attacks on the British press and faced criticism over their use of private jets.

They first sparked claims they could be about to step out of the spotlight when they revealed to Bradby in an ITV documentary that they are struggling with the intense media scrutiny they face on a daily basis. 

But if they did move to Canada, how will it work? Will the British taxpayer continue to fund their lifestyle, who picks up the bill for security, and would they step back from their royal duties altogether?

Here MailOnline looks at the move abroad and what it means to Canada, the UK and the royal family itself.

The Duke and Duchess are said to be looking at making the move across the Atlantic where they would be based for a significant part of the year

The Duke and Duchess are said to be looking at making the move across the Atlantic where they would be based for a significant part of the year

If they move to Canada, where will they live – and how much is it likely to cost?

Harry and Meghan would naturally be drawn to Toronto, the city where they enjoyed a secret courtship of five months before their relationship was revealed to the world in October 2016.

Meghan, who was born and raised in California, considered it her home town after filming seven series of Suits there and openly says Canada is her 'second home' after Britain. 

The couple recently spent more than £2.4million of taxpayers' money refurbishing their Frogmore Cottage home - and buying a property of a similar standard in a Canadian city would cost significantly more.

Frogmore House was a gift from the Queen - but any Canadian home would likely be paid from their own pocket. 

Harry first met her in May 2016 when he was in Toronto to promote his Invictus Games for wounded servicemen and met the divorcee actress, who had split with her chef boyfriend of two years, Cory Vitiello. 

While he was there blind date after being set up by a female friend, believed to be designer Mischa Nonoo, and they 'met for a drink' in a Toronto bar.

They then spent the rest of 2016 meeting almost every fortnight, with Harry secretly flying to see her as she couldn't leave the city because of her Suits commitments.   They were holed up together in her flat with her dog Bogart and lived, largely, like a royal couple.

Describing their relationship, Harry has said: 'I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly... All the stars were aligned - everything was just perfect. It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life - I fell into her life.'

The £10million property where Meghan and Harry spent six weeks over Christmas and New Year

The £10million property where Meghan and Harry spent six weeks over Christmas and New Year

But there decision to head to Vancouver, rather than Toronto, for Christmas as a family could also be telling.

Harry, Meghan and baby Archie enjoyed all the luxuries on offer at a £10.7million waterfront mansion in one of the most idyllic spots on Vancouver Island - and are even believed to have taken their two dogs over with them, too.

They were also seen out hiking locally with friends, including actress Abigail Spencer, a friend of former actress Meghan's from her days on the television drama Suits, with Meghan even offering to take a picture for one stunned couple they met who were struggling with their selfie stick.

They also posted a picture on Instagram of a delighted Harry holding his son, Archie, taken during their holiday to the delight of fans on New Year's Eve.

Vancouver also has a high 'hipster' and in 2018 Goop, the controversial lifestyle brand founded by Gwyneth Paltrow, held its annual 'wellness summit' in the city with meditation sessions, workouts, and yoga classes, a pursuit loved by Meghan.

Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada for cost of living - and the luxury they are used in the United States will cost them millions of pounds. Toronto is the second most expensive.

Harry and Meghan are pictured in Toronto in 2017 as they leave the wheelchair tennis at the Invictus Games in 2017

Harry and Meghan are pictured in Toronto in 2017 as they leave the

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