London: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have announced that they would be stepping back as “senior” royals, and work to become financially independent. In a statement, Prince Harry and Meghan added that they plan to split their time between the UK and North America.

“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 said in their unexpected statement released by Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

The couple said they made the decision “after many months of reflection and internal discussions”.

Since their wedding, the 35-year-old Harry and former US actress Meghan Markle, 38, have been embroiled in controversy regarding their relationship with the rest of the royal family and subjected to intense media pressure, Efe news reported.

Now, they have announced that they will continue to fulfil their royal obligations vis-a-vis Queen Elizabeth, Harry’s grandmother, the British Commonwealth and the foundations in which they are involved, but they will not be spending all their time in the British Isles.

“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,” the pair said in their joint communique.

They went on to say in their statement on their Instagram account, that they intend to “launch … our new charitable entity,” about which they will provide more details in the future.

“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,” the royal pair said, referring to the monarchy.

Harry and Meghan communicated their plans shortly after returning from a lengthy trip to Canada, where Meghan lived for seven years while she was filming the TV series “Suits,” their stay there forcing them to distance themselves from their royal commitments for about two months.

A few weeks before Christmas, the couple’s problems dealing with the pressure of being in the bright media spotlight all the time were highlighted in a documentary aired on Britain’s ITV television channel.

In that documentary, Prince Harry said that he refused to be forced into playing the game that “killed my mother,” referring to Princess Diana, who died in August 1997 in Paris in an automobile accident as she was being pursued by paparazzi.

In that same documentary, Meghan was almost moved to tears while talking with the journalist interviewing her, leading the British press to compare that moment with Diana’s famous 1995 interview in which she spoke openly for the first time about her relationship with Crown Prince Charles.

(With IANS inputs)