Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle will step back as senior members of the royal family and spend more time in North America.

The couple made the announcement in a historic statement Wednesday. The statement, released by Buckingham Palace, reads:

"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.

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."

Turbulent year

The shock news follows a turbulent year for the royal family.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent Christmas in Canada after speaking of the pressure of being in the spotlight following their wedding and son Archie's birth in May.

They had previously announced they would miss Christmas with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family, choosing to spend it instead with the duchess' mother, Doria Ragland.

The article will be updated as details emerge.