Prince Harry, Meghan to 'step back as senior members' of British royal family

The duke and duchess of Sussex said that "after many months of reflection," they've decided to split their time between North America and the UK as they prepare to launch a "new charitable entity."
6:43 | 01/09/20

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Transcript for Prince Harry, Meghan to 'step back as senior members' of British royal family
Reporter: It promised so much. A royal wedding, watched by millions, and a union set to revolutionize a monarchy. Harry and Meghan went in thoroughly ready to embrace their roles as senior members of the royal family. Reporter: But it's been a bumpy ride for Britain's rock star Royals who from the start wanted to do things differently. Meghan was the first self-made woman to ever enter the royal family. How can you take someone who personified the American dream before she met prince Harry, put her in the royal family and expect her to breathe. That's something obviously she's talked to Harry about. Reporter: Today the duke and duchess of Sussex announcing a stunning decision. They'd be stepping away from royal duties and living part time overseas. This is Harry and Meghan drawing a line and saying this is how we want to do it. They're very much testing the waters. Reporter: The couple posting a message to Instagram, saying 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. We plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America. They are basically saying they're going to be part-time Royals and work toward making their own money. That has been difficult for members of the royal family to do. Reporter: The decision blind siding Buckingham palace, the queen issuing her own statement saying that discussions with the duke and duchess of Sussex are at an early statement. These are complicated issue and will take time to work through. For the members of the royal family, none of them knew this was going on. Reporter: Is any of this really possible? Meghan and Harry might have ideas about what they'd like to achieve, but it's not really been done before. This basically puts a description on what they were setting themselves up for in 2020 anyway. The year was going to revolve around the formation of the Sussex royal family foundation. Palace sources said Meghan wasn't taking on any new patronages this year. So they're setting themselves up to focus on that one project. Reporter: Meghan admitted that royal life has been overwhelming. When I first met my now husband, my friends were really happy, because I was so happy. But my British friends said to me, I'm sure he's great, but you shouldn't do it, because the British tabloids will destroy your life. Reporter: Just a few months into their relationship, British tabloids descend on them with racially charged commentary, like this one that read "Harry's girl is almost straight out of Compton." She's been subject to the incredible abuse. Harry addressed it even before they were married. Reporter: Prince Harry defended Meghan in an unprecedented statement, calling out the racial undertones and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls. It's a shame that that is the climate in this world to focus that much on that or that it would be discriminatory in that sense. At the end of the day, I'm really just proud of who I am and where I come from, and we have never put any focus on that. We've just focussed on who we are as a couple. Reporter: And that endless press scrutiny would not relent. This year they're even set to take some British tabloids to court. They're fed up with having the British press in their shadows every engagement. The pack of British media follows them in all their work. It means that they can privately fund their engagement, choose who's covering it and avoid some of the negativity. Reporter: Their website launched today, rolling out new parameters for press coverage of the couple's engagements, saying they're breaking with the royal pool of journalists. The pain of their public struggle captured in this 2019 itv documentary. Not many people have asked if I'm okay. But it's, it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes. Would it be fair to say not really okay? I mean, really been a struggle? Yes. Reporter: Harry's late mother Diana knew the problems of life in the royal spotlight. She described the suffocating nature of being a royal. The pressure on us both as a couple with the media was phenomenal and misunderstood by a great many people. Reporter: But it's his mother's lesson on love that seems pressure yents all these years later. If you find someone you love in life, you must hang on to it and look after it. If you are lucky enough to find someone who loves you, you must protect it. Reporter: As Diana found, navigating a path between celebrity and royalty is not like her mother-in-law, perhaps Meghan has sought too much too during a tour of Africa he followed in Diana's footsteps. It's clearly emotional for me. There's still so much to do. Reporter: His emotional walk tells the extraordinary story of this ordinary street and of one son's fight to make sure his mother's legacy is not forgotten. To see the transformation that has taken place from an unsafe and desolate a vibrant area of local businesses and colleges. Reporter: Diana never saw the impact of her visit. She died in a car crash five months after those photos were she remained a working member of the royal family, while her son and young family are proposing this unprecedented. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Where will Harry and Meghan live? How will they make money? What will they do? How about security? Are the British taxpayers paying for their security while they're making money? Reporter: They launch their foundation and continue to promote their charities and possibly earn an income, all this while still supporting the queen. What will that look like? For the moment, perhaps only Meghan and Harry really know. For "Nightline," I'm James Longman in London.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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