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By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) - Peter Phillips, the grandson of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, and his Canadian wife are to divorce after 12 years of marriage, the couple announced on Tuesday.
Phillips, the eldest of the British monarch's eight grandchildren, and Autumn had informed the queen and their family last year, their statement said. The couple, who married in 2008, have two children, Savannah, 9, and Isla, 7.
"They had reached the conclusion that this was the best course of action for their two children and ongoing friendship," their spokesman said.
"The decision to divorce and share custody came about after many months of discussions and although sad, is an amicable one. The couples' first priority will remain the continued well being and upbringing of their wonderful daughters Savannah and Isla."
Buckingham Palace said it had no comment as it was a private matter. The statement said both families were saddened by the news.
Phillips, 42, son of Elizabeth's daughter Princess Anne and 15th-in-line to the throne, and Autumn, 41, met in 2003 at the Montreal Grand Prix, when he worked for the Formula 1 racing team BMW Williams and she worked at the BMW hospitality suite.
They married at the queen’s Windsor Castle residence near London, the scene for a number of recent royal weddings including that of another of Elizabeth's grandsons, Prince Harry to his American wife Meghan.
Phillips has no royal title and has tended to stay out of the limelight. He did, however, organise a giant street party in front of Buckingham Palace to celebrate the queen's 90th birthday in 2016.
The Sun, newspaper which first reported the split, said the monarch, 93, would be very upset by the news which comes on the back on a series of major setbacks for the royal family.
Harry and Meghan plunged the Windsors into crisis last month when they announced they wanted to cut back on official duties. That led to a deal which means they will retire as working royals to spend more time in Canada and the United States.
Meanwhile, the queen's second son Prince Andrew also stepped down from public duties in November over his connections to sex scandals involving late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein.
"The queen must wonder what she has done to deserve this," the Sun quoted an unnamed senior royal source as saying.
"Peter Phillips has always been a favourite of hers and Prince Philip and she will be crestfallen by this, especially on top of all the other bad news. It makes you wonder what’s going to happen next."
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)