The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they will step back from royal duties - and plan to split their time between the UK and North America.

They have tonight (Wednesday) issued a personal message on their future.

They say: "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."

The couple have recently returned to the UK after spending Christmas in Canada with son Archie. They went on a public outing to Canada House on Tuesday, where they thanked the country for being so welcoming towards them. Rumours then began circulating that they planned to split their time between the UK and North America. 

It comes after the Duchess announced in October she would be suing the Mail on Sunday over its decision to publish a letter she sent her estranged father, Thomas Markle. 

The Duke and Duchess had spoken of their struggle in the spotlight for an ITV documentary about their tour of Africa. 

It was reported at the time there was a rift between the Sussexes and Harry brother, Prince William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge. 

In the documentary, Prince Harry said 'under the pressure' of being a royal, it was inevitable that 'stuff happens.'

"But look, we're brothers. We'll always be brothers."