VICTORIA -- Canadians will no longer be on the hook for Prince Harry and Meghan's security after the couple officially drop their royal duties next month.

The Ministry of Public Safety tells CTV News the RCMP has been providing security for the Duke and Duchess in Canada since November. The security agreement will end when the couple officially step back from most royal activities on March 31.

"The assistance will cease in the coming weeks, in keeping with their change in status," says the office of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

The government had previously declined to say whether Canada was providing for the couple's security since their arrival in Canada. The statement Thursday confirms that the Mounties have been involved from the start.

"At the request of the Metropolitan Police, the RCMP has been providing assistance to the Met since the arrival of the Duke and Duchess to Canada intermittently since November 2019." 

Harry and Meghan have made Vancouver Island their part-time home since visiting for Christmas 2019. In January, the couple shocked many with the abrupt announcement that they wanted to step back from royal duties and become financially independent.

"The RCMP has been engaged with officials in the UK from the very beginning regarding security considerations," the federlal ministry says. "As the Duke and Duchess are currently recognized as Internationally Protected Persons, Canada has an obligation to provide security assistance on an as needed basis."

The couple are now expected to spend most of their time in Canada while maintaining a home in England.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing to re-locate to Canada on a part-time basis presented our government with a unique and unprecedented set of circumstances," Public Safety Canada says.

Harry and Meghan, who were named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day, have also abandoned plans to use the "Sussex Royal" brand because of U.K. rules governing the use of the word "royal."

Harry and Meghan will no longer use the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness but will retain them, leaving the possibility that the couple might change their minds and return sometime in the future.

Harry's late mother, Diana, was stripped of the Her Royal Highness title when she and Prince Charles divorced.

Harry has said his priorities remain supporting the welfare of servicemen and women, conservation, sport for social development and HIV. Meghan's focus remains women's empowerment, gender equality and education.

With files from the Associated Press