Buckingham Palace's blunt response to Harry, Meghan resigning as senior royals

The royal family is feeling hurt and blindsided by Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's decision to step down as senior royals, a palace source has told the BBC.

"Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through," a statement from Buckingham Palace said earlier on Thursday.

It comes after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex issued a "personal message" saying: "After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution."

The couple said they were going 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". 

The BBC understands that no member of the royal family was consulted and the palace is "disappointed".

Following that report, the BBC's royal reporter Jonny Dymond said some senior members feel "hurt" by the announcement.

ITV royal editor Chris Ship says the contents of the pair's statement were not known to any other royal family member in advance and the couple's plans were only thought to be an "idea".

Ship said "it would appear [Thursday's] statement from the Sussexes was made without the blessing of the Queen", which as the editor notes would be largely unprecedented.

"It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment," Harry and Meghan's statement says.

"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.

Both Harry and Meghan have been under an intense media spotlight since their highly-publicised marriage in 2018.

Late last year, the pair said they were suing Associated Newspapers over the publication of a private letter - a rare move for members of the royal family who normally ignore press comment.

They have been critcised by some traditionalists for breaking royal protocol and conventions, including recently when the pair didn't attend the Queen's Christmas celebrations. Instead they visited Canada with their son Archie and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland. Despite the disapproval, the pair said the Queen gave her permission for this.

However, the Duke and Duchess have also been applauded for their committment to progressive ideals, rallying behind women, wildlife campaigns and climate change advocates.