Thomas Markle 'disappointed' by Duke and Duchess of Sussex's decision

Thomas Markle is "disappointed" by the news the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are stepping back from their roles in the royal family.

The 74-year-old retired lighting director - who has never met his son-in-law, Prince Harry, or eight-month-old grandson Archie - spoke out hours after his daughter Meghan and her husband announced they plan to work to become "financially independent" and will be scaling down their official royal duties, but didn't elaborate on his feelings.

Asked about the news, Thomas - who has been estranged from his daughter for almost two years - told Us Weekly magazine: 'I'll just simply say I'm disappointed."

The royal couple announced on Wednesday (08.01.20) they plan to "carve out a progressive new role" for themselves.

In a statement posted to their Instagram account, they wrote: "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."

Harry, 35, and 38-year-old Meghan will be splitting their time between the United Kingdom and Meghan's native America, and the pair hope to still be able to raise their son to "appreciate royal tradition".

They continued: "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."

However, Buckingham Palace officials later described the move as "complicated."

They said in a brief statement: "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."