Early last month, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made the shocking announcement that they would be stepping away from their official duties as senior members of the Royal Family, causing absolute pandemonium within the confines of the Firm and across the United Kingdom. The royal couple is now proceeding with the first steps of their new chapter, which is set to begin a lot sooner than many of us expected.
Per an agreement with Queen Elizabeth, Harry and Meghan will reportedly officially step down from their duties on March 31, a spokesperson told PEOPLE. Starting on the first day of April, the couple will no longer hold an office at Buckingham Palace; instead, they'll be represented at the palace by their U.K. charity organization.
The Sussexes' spokesperson also shared details about Harry and Meghan's plans to continue the charity work that they already started and create a whole new initiative that is close to their hearts. “In addition to continuing to work closely with their existing patronages as they build a plan for engagements in the U.K. and the Commonwealth throughout the year, The Duke and Duchess have also been undertaking meetings as part of their ongoing work to establish a new non-profit organization," said the source.
"In general, the themes of their cause related work will remain unchanged," the spokesperson continued, "Which includes the Commonwealth, community, youth empowerment and mental health, collectively.”
Harry and Meghan are still keeping their HRH titles, and Harry is still sixth in line for the throne after Prince Charles, Prince William, and his children with Kate Middleton. However, the Sussexes likely will not be referring to themselves as "royals" anymore.
Not being considered "royals" might be more of a blessing than a curse where these two are concerned. The couple's decision to step down was inspired by their desire for financial independence and the privacy that would be afforded to them as a private citizens not living on the taxpayers' dime. While they will still technically be members of the royal family, Harry and Meghan's new status will allow them to freely pursue their own ventures, which could include deals with Disney and Netflix.
As previously rumored, the Sussexes will in fact split their time between the U.K. and North America; right now, they're living in Canada and are predicted to head out to sunny California for the summertime. After 12-months of independence, Harry and Meghan will return to the U.K. to review their year away, and they will discuss possible renegotiations of their agreement with the Queen. Because the nature of this departure from the Firm is so unique, the Royal Family is keeping the terms of this agreement flexible and adaptable so that they can revisit it in 2021.
Queen Elizabeth may not have been completely onboard with her grandson's sudden plans to vacate Frogmore Cottage, but she is said to be working closely with him and Meghan to make sure that their transition is as smooth as possible.