Prince Harry Expresses His “Great Sadness” at Stepping Back From Royal Duties in First Public Statement

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Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

“It brings me great sadness that it has come to this.”

Tonight, Prince Harry has spoken publicly for the first time since announcing that he and wife Meghan Markle are stepping back from their royal duties.

After a surprise announcement two weeks ago, the Queen unveiled the official plans for the pair’s new life yesterday, outlining that they would retain their HRH titles, but not use them as they are no longer formally representing the Queen, that they will no longer receive public funding and that they will step back from all royal duties.

Tonight, Harry attended a private dinner for Sentebale supporters in London and described the situation as the result of there being “no other option”, saying, “It brings me great sadness that it has come to this.”  He defended Meghan saying that “she is the same woman I fell in love with”, and explained that the pair will continue to serve and work on behalf of causes they feel strongly about.

Interestingly, Harry said that the pair had hoped to continue as working royals without public funding but it wasn’t possible. He said he wanted to make one thing in particular clear: “We’re not walking away,” he said, namechecking the media as a key contributor to the decision.”I hope that helps you to understand what it had to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.”

Read the beginning part of his statement in full below:

“So, I want you to hear the truth from me, as much as I can share, not as a duke or prince but as Harry, the same person that many of you have perhaps watched grow up over the last 35 years but now with a clearer perspective.”

“The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. I’ve grown up feeling supported from so many of you and I’ve watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms as you saw me find the love and happiness that I’d hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched. Hooray!

“I also know that 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. We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride.

“Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited. We were hopeful and we were here to serve. For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision 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. 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, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible. I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.

“I was born into this life, and it is a great honor to serve my country and the Queen. 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 so in that respect, nothing changes. 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!

“I will always have the utmost respect for my grandmother, my commander in chief, and 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. 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.

“Together, you have given me an education about living. And this role has taught me more about what is right and just than I could have ever imagined. We are taking a leap of faith – so thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”

Watch the speech in full below:

Following yesterday’s announcement, it was also revealed that the new arrangement will be reviewed in one year’s time to ensure it is working out for all parties involved.

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