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In shocking news today, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle formally announced that they’ve decided to step down as “senior members of the Royal Family.”

This declaration came as an unexpected (but sort of expected) end to their continued effort to distance themselves from the public eye. And although their reasons for doing so are completely understandable and frankly applaudable after the level of scrutiny they’ve endured, my initial reaction was shock, followed by sadness. Does this mean we won’t get to hunker down for photos of the couple and their infant son, Archie, on royal tour or get glimpses of the 38-year-old duchess’s fashion? After careful consideration, I’ve come to realize that this isn’t the end of an era. Instead, it’s the beginning of a new chapter for the couple that comes with a silver lining we can all celebrate.

In case you missed it, the 35-year-old prince and his wife explained their intentions behind stepping down in a lengthy Instagram caption. It read, “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.”

Their statement went on to say, “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.”

They concluded the message by ensuring their followers that “full details of this exciting next step” will be released 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.” They thanked everyone for their continued support and signed off with their formal royal titles.

At first glance, their note seems like the beginning of a goodbye, right? The thing is, if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex step down as senior members of the royal family, I don’t anticipate that we’ll necessarily see less of them. In fact, I’m almost sure fans will garner a more intimate, authentic look at who they are as people, as a family and as philanthropists.

Why? Well, think about it. Prior to Markle’s initiation into the royal family, she spent her time acting on the hit series Suits, running her blog The Tig, speaking as a United Nations Ambassador, doing philanthropic and mission-based work and walking red carpets. In short, she was anything but a wallflower. Under the guise of royal protocol, she and her husband were expected to adhere to a set of rules and expectations. Without that veil of traditionalism, they’ll be free to control their own narrative and set their own boundaries. This could potentially mean more candid Instagram photos and captions written by their own hand. It could mean they’ll get to go to more events wearing whatever they want and have the opportunity to lead semi-normal lives. It’s actually incredibly exciting for them.

Another point to focus on is that they mention their intention “to become financially independent.” As we all know, that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. They’re launching a “new charitable entity,” so that’s potentially how they’ll make money, but I wonder if they’ll also pen memoirs or schedule speaking engagements à la Michelle and Barack Obama. The opportunities are endless.

Although it may seem like they’re going underground, I think this is just Harry and Meghan approaching the next iteration of their platform. Hopefully, that means they’re not going anywhere.  

RELATED: Meghan Markle Noticed a Couple Struggling to Take a Photo and Stepped in to Help

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