Prince Harry has said it brought him great sadness that he had to leave his royal duties after agreeing with Queen Elizabeth that he and his wife Meghan would step down from official roles to seek an independent future.
- Prince Harry stated once he and Meghan were married, they were “excited to serve”
- He said he upheld the utmost respect for his grandmother, his “commander-in-chief”
- Buckingham Palace has said the couple will no longer receive public money
Buckingham Palace and the Queen announced on Saturday that Harry and Meghan would no longer use their “royal highness” titles nor receive any public funding as part of a deal to end a crisis the couple sparked by announcing they wanted to reduce their duties and spend more time in North America.
In a speech to the Sentebale charity on Sunday, a clearly upset Harry said the final outcome was not what he had wanted.
“I want you to hear the truth from me, as much as I can share not as a Prince, or a Duke, but as Harry, the same person that many of you have watched grow up over the last 35 years, but with a clearer perspective,” Harry said.
“The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change.
“It brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly.
“It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges.
“And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.”
Under the Queen’s arrangement, Harry will remain a prince and the couple will keep their titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they begin a new life split between North America and Britain, but they will not take part in any future ceremonial events or royal tours.
“I have grown up feeling support from so many of you, and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms as you saw me find the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hurray!” he said.
Harry also assured the audience that Meghan upholds the “same values” he does.
“I also know you’ve come to know me well enough over all these years to trust that the woman I chose as my wife upholds the same values as I do. And she does, and she’s the same woman I fell in love with.”
He also stated that once he and Meghan were married, they were “excited to serve”.
“It has also been a privilege to meet so many of you, and to feel your excitement for our son Archie, who saw snow for the first time the other day and thought it was bloody brilliant!”
The Prince said he upheld the utmost respect for his grandmother, his “commander-in-chief”.
“I am incredibly grateful to her and the rest of my family, for the support they have shown Meghan and I over the last few months.”
Royal commentators have said the couples’ move amounted to an “abdication” from the “firm” — as the Royals are known — and showed that, under the warm words in which she said Harry and Meghan were much loved, the Queen had taken a firm and decisive line by insisting on a clean break.
“I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear and dedicates his life to supporting the causes, charities and military communities that are so important to me.
“What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.
“Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations without public funding. Sadly that wasn’t possible,” the prince, the sixth in line to the throne, said.
“I’ve accepted this knowing it doesn’t change who I am, or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had come to, that I would step back from all I have ever known to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.”
He continued: “I was born into this life, and it is a great honour to serve my country and the Queen.”
The couple’s plans for independence, announced after a long break over the Christmas period in Canada, caught the rest of the Royal family by surprise earlier this month and left the Queen and other senior Windsors hurt and disappointed, according to Royal sources.
However, in a TV interview aired in October, both had made it clear how they were struggling with the immense media attention.
Harry said he felt his wife had faced bullying from some tabloids similar to that faced by his mother Princess Diana, who died in a car crash while trying to escape paparazzi photographers.
He told those gathered: “When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing. You’ve looked out for me for so long, but the media is a powerful force, and my hope is one day our collective support for each other can be more powerful because this is so much bigger than just us.”
“It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service.”
Buckingham Palace have said the couple would no longer receive public money and that they would repay the cost of refurbishing their cottage in Windsor, which official figures show amounted to 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million).
But certain details, such as their future security arrangements or whether the couple could continue to use the “Sussex Royal” title for their website and branding, have either not been finalised or publicly revealed.
Meghan is currently in Canada with their baby son Archie and Harry is expected to join her soon.
PM says Britain wishes them well
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier on Sunday he believed that the whole of Britain would want to wish the very best to the couple for their future.
“As I said before … I was sure that the Royal family, which has been around a very long time, will find a way forward,” Mr Johnson told Sky News.