Peter and Autumn Phillips informed the Queen and other members of the family of their decision last year
“They had reached the conclusion that this was the best course of action for their two children and ongoing friendship,” a spokesman for the couple said. “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. Both families were naturally sad at the announcement, but fully supportive of Peter and Autumn in the joint decision to co-parent their children.”
The pair will share custody of their two daughters, Savannah, 9, and Isla, 7. Their spokesman confirms to PEOPLE that they separated last year and informed the Queen and other members of the family of their decision then.
Princess Anne’s son, 42, is the first of his generation of royals to separate from his spouse, adding yet another sad episode for the Queen in recent months.
Despite the split, Autumn, a Canadian, will remain in Gloucestershire in the U.K. “to bring up their two children.” The south west English county is “where they have been settled for a number of years,” according to the statement.
Peter, a sports marketing consultant, met Autumn, a management consultant, in 2003 in her hometown of Montreal at the Formula One Grand Prix. They wed at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in 2008.
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The couple’s two children are close to their cousins, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. They are often seen goofing off together at royal events. Savannah memorably covered George’s mouth while on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour in 2018.
The story first of Peter and Autumn’s split emerged in The Sun newspaper late Monday.
Buckingham Palace did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.