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Harry and Meghan: What do we know so far and what will happen next?

Duke and Duchess of Sussex Image copyright Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex say they are to step back as "senior" royals and divide their time between the UK and North America.

The couple, who have a baby son, Archie, said they plan to carve out a "progressive new role" in the Royal Family and intend to "work to become financially independent".

What might their new role be?

Prince Harry and Meghan have plans to launch a new "charitable entity".

Exactly where and exactly what are unclear as the couple have not yet elaborated on how they see their new role.

However, their new charity is expected to be global in reach, with some of the focus likely to be on the US and Africa.

On the pair's first official overseas tour last year with their son, Archie, the Duchess of Sussex told teenage girls in a deprived part of South Africa that she was with them "as a woman of colour and as your sister".

Prince Harry has spoken of his personal love for Africa, describing the continent as a place "where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world".

The couple's charity work is also likely to have a commitment to female empowerment, an issue on which Meghan has publicly pledged to "shine a light".

How will they fund their new life?

The couple have said their ambition is to "work to become financially independent".

They say current rules prohibit them from "earning income in any form" but by taking a step back as senior royals, their new roles could involve having full-time jobs.

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Media captionRoyal correspondent Jonny Dymond: "It is very clear the palace is very upset about what has happened"

David McClure, author of a book on how royals have made and spent their wealth, said they already have their own money and could make more from TV in future.

Meghan was reportedly paid $50,000 per episode of the TV show Suits. While she is no longer a working actress she will receive some payments whenever the show is rebroadcast.

The duke and duchess's expenses - such as living costs, travel, clothing - are currently covered by Harry's father for their role as working royals, representing the Queen.

The Prince of Wales funds his sons and their families with income from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Historian and royal author Hugo Vickers told the BBC he was unconvinced by the couple's plans.

He said "they think they can do all sorts of things together but the fact is that they're very likely, if they're not careful, to end up as slightly tarnished celebrities, perhaps".

Where will they be based?

They plan to divide their time between the UK and North America,

They only moved into their new home - Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, Berkshire - last April ahead of the birth of their son. The estimated cost to the taxpayer of renovations to it is £3 million.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ben and Jessica Mulroney, pictured in 2009

Harry and Meghan took an extended break from royal duties over Christmas, including time spent in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

While acting in the US drama Suits, Toronto became an adopted city for Meghan. It is home to her friends, Jessica and Ben Mulroney, the city's "most polished power couple", according to Toronto Life magazine.

It is likely that the family would spend time in Meghan's US homeland too - her mother, Doria Ragland, lives in California.

Her father, Thomas Markle, with whom Meghan has little contact, lives in Mexico.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, lives in California

What's behind the decision?

Many months of reflection and internal discussions, they said.

In October, the public got a glimpse into the couple's mindset in an ITV documentary filmed during a tour of Africa.

The Duchess of Sussex admitted adjusting to royal life had been "hard" and she had not been prepared for the intensity of the media scrutiny, despite warnings from her British friends that the tabloids could "destroy" her life.

Asked whether she was coping, Meghan, a new mother, said: "I have said for a long time to H - that is what I call him - it's not enough to just survive something, that's not the point of life. You have got to thrive."

Prince Harry also described his mental health and the way he deals with the pressures of his life as a matter of "constant management".

Following their decision to step back as senior royals, BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said there were "great chunks" of the job that the couple "simply could not stand", while Harry "hated the cameras and was visibly bored by the ceremonial".

Towards the end of last year, Prince Harry said he and Meghan were to take legal action against the Mail on Sunday over a claim it unlawfully published one of her private letters. The paper stands by its story.

At the time, an unrestrained Harry said: "I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

Referring to his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales' sudden death in 1997, he said: "I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person."

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Media captionMeghan spoke to ITV as part of a documentary last year

What else have they said?

The couple have also updated the section of their website which outlines their attitude to the media.

The duke and duchess said they would be adopting a "revised media approach to ensure diverse and open access of their work" in 2020.

Included in this new strategy, Harry and Meghan said they would "engage with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists".

They will also pull out of the so-called royal rota system, where journalists and media representatives are given exclusive passes to cover royal engagements on the understanding they share all the material they gather.

"The current system predates the dramatic transformation of news reporting in the digital age," the couple said in a statement on their website.

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Image caption The Royal Family faces intense media scrutiny

Under a heading asking what Harry and Meghan's stance is on the media in general, the couple said they believe in a "free, strong and open media" which "upholds accuracy and fosters inclusivity, diversity and tolerance".

"Their Royal Highnesses recognise that their roles as members of the Royal Family are subject to interest, and they welcome accurate and honest media reporting as well as being held to account if appropriate. Equally, like every member of society, they also value privacy as individuals and as a family."

The couple said they would continue to use social media, including their Instagram account which has 10.1m followers, to "personally share moments in their lives directly with members of the public".

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