The Sussexes walked away because of ‘bad blood’ with the ‘toxic’ family

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s decision to step down as senior royals became inevitable as the couple increasingly felt ostracized from the family. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a statement on Wednesday announcing their intent to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution” — however, the public announcement came with little formal warning and left senior royals “hurt,” something that was “so avoidable,” a royal source says.

But in this week’s cover story, a family friend tells PEOPLE that the couple felt they had no choice but to manage things the way they did, even as they went against the family’s “never complain, never explain” mantra.

“This is not how they wanted to handle this, but Meghan and Harry’s hand was forced,” says the friend. “There is so much bad blood in that family — it’s toxic.” The friend adds, “If relationships had been better, things would have been different.”

The negative press they endured and Meghan’s outsider status as a biracial American left her “deeply, deeply hurt,” says a source close to the royal household — and feeling unsupported by the royal family.

“Meghan and Harry didn’t feel they got enough comfort or solace from them,” says the source.

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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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