Duke and Duchess of Sussex to begin new life on March 31

Entertainment

FILE – In this Tuesday Jan. 7, 2020 file photo Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave after visiting Canada House in London after their recent stay in Canada. In a stunning declaration, Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, said they are planning “to step back” as senior members of the royal family and “work to become financially independent.” A statement issued by the couple Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 also said they intend to “balance” their time between the U.K. and North America. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, FILE)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, are breaking free of the royal family starting March 31, the couple’s office said Wednesday.

The announcement comes as Buckingham Palace reviewed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s use of the label “Sussex Royal” after their decision to step back from royal duties. Talks involving senior officials are ongoing about the issue and a decision will be announced alongside the launch of their new non-profit organisation.

The royal couple stunned Britain with an abrupt announcement in January that they wanted to step back from royal duties. Prince Harry said he was taking a “leap of faith” in the move in an attempt to build a more peaceful life — one free of the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born.

Harry and Meghan will no longer use the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness but will retain them, leaving the possibility that the couple might change their minds and return sometime in the future.

Harry’s late mother, Diana, was stripped of the Her Royal Highness title when she and Prince Charles divorced.

The prince and his wife will walk away from most royal duties, give up public funding and try to become financially independent. The couple, who were named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day, are expected to spend most of their time in Canada while maintaining a home in England, near Windsor Castle.

The couple’s departure is a wrench for the royal family, and Queen Elizabeth II said at the time that she wished the couple had wanted to remain full-time royals.

Despite the unprecedented move, the couple will keep the themes of their public work — the Commonwealth, community, youth empowerment and mental health, collectively.

Harry’s priorities remain supporting the welfare of servicemen and women, conservation, sport for social development and HIV. Meghan’s focus remains women’s empowerment, gender equality and education.

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