LONDON        -      The Royal Family are said to be “hurt” at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s announcement they will step back as senior royals. Prince Harry and Meghan did not consult any senior royal before making the statement, the BBC understands.

Buckingham Palace was “blindsided”, said BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond, as talks about their future had begun but were in very early stages. The Palace said there were “complicated issues” to work through.

In their statement on Wednesday, Harry and Meghan said they made the decision “after many months of reflection and internal discussions”.

They said they intend “to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent”.

They plan to split their time between the UK and North America, while “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,” the couple said.

The pair was already preparing to launch their own Sussex Royal charity, which they set up after splitting from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s foundation in June last year.

The Sussexes’ new charity is expected to be global, linked to Africa and the US, rather than domestic - and will have a commitment to female empowerment.

What do commentators say?

Royal historian Prof Kate Williams said it will be “difficult” for Harry and Meghan to lead “normal” lives, as media interest in them will increase after their “unprecedented” move.

She told BBC Breakfast: “Harry and Meghan are global celebrities. Meghan was already famous [due to her former acting career]” as was Harry, who will become even “more significant” when his father - and later his brother - becomes king.

“He is always going to be very close to the royal fold. It is going to be difficult if Harry and Meghan are going to live in Canada for a certain period of time and try and get on with business and be normal, charitable CEOs.

“They will require security because I don’t see the media interest in them waning, I see it as probably increasing, because what they’re doing is so unprecedented for royals.”

She said the Met Police or Foreign Office would pay for their security on royal business, but their security in Canada could be funded by their global charitable foundation. Royal commentator Penny Junor said the couple’s actions were reminiscent of those of Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The suggestion that they had not consulted other royals before making their statement was “beyond bizarre”.

She said: “It has echoes of Diana when she suddenly announced after her separation [from Charles] that she was stepping back from 50 of her charities without consulting anybody.

“The problem is that they are not working for themselves, they are working for a family firm and to be making announcements of this sort without consulting is beyond bizarre.”

Graham Smith, a spokesman for Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, said Harry and Meghan’s decision “raises questions about the monarchy’s future” and will prompt taxpayers to ask how the couple’s extra security and overseas lifestyle will be funded.