The Sussexes knew they would leave the UK as early as May 2019

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s desire to have a normal family life played a huge role in their decision to step down as senior royals. The couple welcomed son Archie on May 6 — and a palace source tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story that by that month, “they knew they were going to hit the nuclear button.”

While a rift developed between Prince Harry and Prince William, stemming from a conversation where William warned his younger brother against things moving too fast with Meghan, many imagined the siblings working “shoulder-to-shoulder” as they got older, according to a source. However, that proved to be more complex in reality.

“When Meghan came around and she was interested in making changes, he welcomed it,” says a friend. When Archie was born, the couple’s focus shifted even more to “doing what’s right for their family,” adds another friend.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a statement last week announcing their intent to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” Though the particulars are still being worked out, Meghan and Harry want to focus on “their own causes with a little less constraint and still be supporting the institution and the monarch,” says a friend. But there was bewilderment within the palace walls at the couple’s statement that they look forward to “continuing to collaborate with Her Majesty the Queen.”

“You don’t ‘collaborate’ with the Queen,” one courtier says. “To say that about the Queen is remarkable.”

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“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. 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. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. 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. 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, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA

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Introducing Naughty But Nice with Rob Shuter
Meet your new best friend. You know, that friend you text to find out the latest dirt on your work nemesis. Except in this case, it’s about the biggest stars in Hollywood. There isn’t a single celebrity Rob Shuter hasn’t met or personally worked with. So get ready to get the lowdown on your favorite stars every Monday through Thursday, beginning Jan. 20.

Called “America’s Number ONE Gossip Columnist” by The National Enquirer.

Rob ‘Naughty But Nice’ Shuter breaks celebrity news every day on his website NaughtyGossip.com where he delivers all the dish about the stars we love in his naughty but nice signature style.

You can also catch him co-hosting and breaking celebrity news on Good Day New York, The Today Show, The Talk, Wendy Williams Show, CNN, Extra and Z100’s ‘Elvis Duran.’

Previously, Rob was the Huffington Post’s only celebrity columnist and the former executive editor of OK! Magazine. Rob has also hosted his own Saturday night talk show on Mark Cuban’s channel and his own daily morning show, ‘The Gossip Table,’ on VH1! He just celebrated his one-year anniversary on Radio Rob – his subscription-based daily live podcast gossip show!

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Before Rob was one of the world’s most successful entertainment reporters, he was a publicist working for Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, P. Diddy, Jessica Simpson and Jon Bon Jovi!

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