Harry, Meghan announce plan to ‘step back’ from royal duties

Senior members of the royal family appeared to be blindsided by the news.
1:35 | 01/09/20

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Transcript for Harry, Meghan announce plan to ‘step back’ from royal duties
Harry and duchess Meghan revealing they are stepping back from their royal roles. And the major question tonight -- did anyone in the royal family, did the queen, know this was coming? ABC's James Longman from London. Reporter: Tonight, senior members of the royal family appear blindsided by the stunning announcement from prince Harry and duchess Meghan. The royal couple saying they plan to step back from their royal duties and split their time between Britain and north America. It's not been the fairy tale once imagined. Relentless and crushing coverage from the British press taking Harry's late mother, Diana, once 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: And back in October, Meghan admitted to itv royal life has been 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. Reporter: Harry defended his wife, saying, "I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been." The royal family seems to have had no idea this was coming tonight. Buckingham pal las releasing a statement, saying, "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through." The queen has been in discussions with Harry and Meghan about changing their roles. But tonight, it seems without much warn, they've made a very public break for an uncertain future. All right, more to come on this. James Longman, thank you.

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

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