The Duke and Duchess of Sussex say they plan to seek a lower profile, build financial independence and divide their time between Britain and North America as they “carve out a progressive new role”.

The surprise announcement comes after Harry and Meghan denounced intrusive and inaccurate reporting in the British and international press, as well as vitriol directed toward them on social media including racist attacks against US-born Meghan.

“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 couple wrote on Instagram.

“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.

The Sun reports that last year, the couple built up a commercial team in Hollywood, including Meghan’s former business manager and PR company Sunshine Sachs.

“Make no mistake, Harry and Meghan intend to make a lot of money and start taking commercial deals as soon as possible,” a source told the publication.

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Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, said splitting their time between the UK and North America would enable them 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”.

A friend of the couple told The Sun: “It’s been a very tough year – they’re newlyweds and they have a young baby – so they’re looking at what their life looks like in the future. Everything is on the table.”

The couple’s staff in the UK were reportedly unaware of the announcement, and will more than likely be made redundant.