Harry and Meghan will not return as working members of British royal family

Duke and Duchess of Sussex to hand back military titles and royal patronages

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not return as working members of the British royal family, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.

Harry and Meghan - who announced on Sunday they were expecting their second child - last year shocked the world by declaring that they would step back from their royal duties.

The Queen said on Friday that the couple would not "continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service".

Honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by the couple - such as Harry's affiliation with the Royal Marines - will be returned to the Queen and "redistributed among working members of the royal family".

"While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

Prince Harry, a former soldier, holds several honorary military titles, including Captain General of the Royal Marines, as well as Commonwealth appointments and some other patronages.

Meghan was also handed several honorary roles after she wed Harry in a fairytale ceremony at Windsor Castle in May, 2018.

Harry and Meghan's spokesman denied that they were not devoted to duty.

"As evidenced by their work over the past year, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role," the spokesman said.

"We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”

News on the couple's future comes ahead of an interview next month with Oprah Winfrey.

The pair formally stepped down in March last year, with a plan to review the arrangements after 12 months. They cited what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess as among the reasons for stepping down.

The couple agreed to no longer use the title “royal highness” or receive public funds for their work, although it was unclear at the time if those decisions would stand.

They retain their titles of duke and duchess, and Harry is still sixth in line to the British throne. Harry and Meghan now live in Santa Barbara, California.

They continue to have a tense relationship with sections of the British media. Earlier this month, Meghan won a legal victory in a lawsuit against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, when a British judge ruled the newspaper invaded her privacy by publishing part of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.

The couple's break with the palace comes as Harry's grandfather, 99-year-old Prince Philip, is in a London hospital, where he was admitted on Tuesday after feeling unwell.

See our images of Harry and Meghan together:

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