‘There was no other option’: Prince Harry explains decision to quit royal duties in emotional speech

Peter Stubley
EPA

Prince Harry has said there was “no other option” than to stand down from royal duties, in a speech referring to the “powerful force” of the media.

The Duke of Sussex, at a private dinner for the Sentebale charity on Sunday night, explained why he and his wife Meghan Markle had made the decision.

“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,” he told guests.

“The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. 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.

“Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve,” he said. “For those reasons, 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 got it right, but as far as this goes there really was no other option.”

The duke’s speech follows the announcement on Saturday that Harry and Meghan would stop using their HRH titles and repay millions of pounds spent renovating their Berkshire home, Frogmore Cottage.

Under the new arrangement with Buckingham Palace the couple are “required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments” and will no longer receive public funds for royal duties.

The couple will become known as Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, from spring.

At the charity dinner, Harry said he and Meghan were “not walking away” but made it clear the new deal was not what the couple had wanted.

He added: “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.”

Harry, who founded Sentebale in 2006 alongside Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to support young people in the country affected by HIV, also referred to the death of his mother Diana.

He added: “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.”

Harry said he would “continue to lead a life of service”, and added: “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.”

He also paid tribute to the royal family and said he had “the utmost respect” for the Queen, who he described as “my grandmother, my commander in chief”.

“I am incredibly grateful to her and the rest of my family for the support they have shown to Meghan and I over the last few months,” the prince said.

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