The duke and duchess of Sussex announced in an Instagram post Wednesday that they will create a "progressive new role" within the monarchy and split their time between the U.K. and North America.
"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," the couple said.
"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. 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," the pair added.
"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," the couple concluded.
"We understand the desire to take a different approach but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through," it said.
Harry and Markle's transition is unprecedented in modern royal history. The couple would no longer be based full-time in the U.K., where Harry is sixth in line to the throne, following his father, Prince Charles, his brother, Prince William, and William's children, George, Charlotte and Louis.
Harry and Markle's announcement follows reports the couple are considering a move to Canada. Markle lived in Toronto while starring on the USA Network series Suits, and was living in the city when she first started dating Harry.
In December, the palace confirmed Harry, Markle and their 7-month-old son, Archie, were spending "private family time" in Canada over the holidays.
"The Duke of Sussex has been a frequent visitor to Canada over many years, and it was also home to The Duchess for seven years before she became a member of the Royal Family," the palace said. "They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son."
Harry and Markle reflected on their 2019 in a year-end video Dec. 31 on New Year's Eve. The couple had discussed their struggle with British tabloids and media scrutiny in an ITV interview in October.
Harry and Markle married in May 2018 and welcomed baby Archie the next May.