“After informing HM The Queen and members of both families last year, Peter and Autumn jointly agreed to separate,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement to the Daily Mail on Monday, February 10. “They had reached the conclusion that this was the best course of action for their two children and ongoing friendship. The decision to divorce and share custody came about after many months of discussions and, although sad, is an amicable one. The couple’s first priority will remain the continued well-being and upbringing of their wonderful daughters, Savannah and Isla.”
The palace added, “Both families were naturally sad at the announcement, but fully supportive of Peter and Autumn in the joint decision to coparent their children. Both Peter and Autumn have remained in Gloucestershire to bring up their two children where they have been settled for a number of years. Peter and Autumn have requested privacy and compassion for their children while the family continues to adapt to these changes.”
The sports marketing consultant, 42, and his wife, 41, met in 2003 in her native Canada while they were both working at a Formula One Grand Prix event. At the time, Autumn didn’t realize that Peter was a member of the royal family — until she caught a glimpse of him on TV a few weeks later. Five years after they first crossed paths, the couple tied the knot at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the same church where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle held their wedding in May 2018.
Peter and Autumn share daughters Savannah, 9, and Isla, 7. According to The Sun, which broke the news, the 93-year-old monarch is concerned that her granddaughter-in-law could be following the lead of Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, and moving back to Canada with her daughters.
Princess Anne — the queen’s only daughter — and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, raised Peter and his younger sister, Zara Tindall, without royal titles so that they could both try to lead normal lives.
“I’m very lucky that both my parents decided to not use the title and we grew up and did all the things that gave us the opportunity to do,” the 38-year-old Olympic equestrian told the U.K.’s The Times in 2015.
After marrying into the high-profile royal family, Autumn admitted that she was surprised by how down to earth her royal in-laws were.
“They’re just a family, they’re happy, they have great relationships with each other. They’re very close,” the Montreal native revealed during an interview with Canada’s CBC News in June 2016.
News of Peter and Autumn’s split comes in the midst of a handful of recent royal scandals, including Prince Andrew‘s decision to step down from his responsibilities in November 2019, after his association with convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein made headlines, and Harry and Meghan’s departure as senior members of the royal family in January.
Though the couple’s announcement that they were stepping back from their duties amid plans to split their time between the U.K. and North America came as a surprise to the public, an insider revealed to Us Weekly exclusively that the former military pilot had been “unhappy in the royal family for years.” Now, the former Suits star and her husband are both “really excited” to begin the next chapter of their lives with 9-month-old Archie in Canada.