Prince Harry speaks out on royal exit

A day after his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II announced that he and wife Meghan Markle would give up their HRH titles and pay back the millions spent on having their home at Windsor renovated, Prince Harry has addressed the couple’s decision to step back as senior members of the royal family.

Speaking a dinner for the Sentebale charity, which he founded, on Sunday night, the royal reassured supporters of his love for his home country but explained some of the reasoning behind distancing himself from his official duties.

Royal correspondents report that Harry expressed the “utmost respect” for the queen and spoke of the support he’s received from his family. According to ITV’s Chris Ship, he joked about “finally” getting “hitched” to Meghan in 2018, while the Daily Mail’s Rebecca English reports that he referred to the duchess as “the same woman I fell in love with.”

Both correspondents noted that the prince added that “it brings me great sadness that it has come to this” in reference to the royal exit.

In video footage shared by Ship, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana spoke of the controversy surrounding his decision to move his family to North America.

“I can only imagine what you may have heard or perhaps read over the past few weeks,” he said. “So 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 now with a clearer perspective.”

He went on to add that his decision was “not made lightly,” sharing that he had hoped to stay on as a senior royal without public funding, a proposal that didn’t pan out.

“It was so many months of talks, after so many years of challenges,” he continued. “And I know I haven’t always got 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.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry return to work
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 7: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House in London, United Kingdom on January 7, 2020 and are greeted by Janice Charette. Duke and Duchess of Sussex will meet Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the UK and the staff and thank them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving for their visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 7: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House in London, United Kingdom on January 7, 2020 and are greeted by Janice Charette. Duke and Duchess of Sussex will meet Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the UK and the staff and thank them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 7: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House in London, United Kingdom on January 7, 2020 and are greeted by Janice Charette. Duke and Duchess of Sussex will meet Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the UK and the staff and thank them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving for their visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrives at Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving for their visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Duchess of Sussex arriving for the visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving for their visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrives at Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The Duchess of Sussex arriving for her visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex reacts as they leave after her visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, in London on January 7, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex react as they are show a special exhibition of art by Indigenous Canadian artist, Skawennati, in the Canada Gallery during their visit to Canada House, in London on January 7, 2020, to give thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex gesture during their visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, on January 7, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex smile during their visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, on January 7, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 07: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex gestures during her visit with Prince Harry to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, on January 7, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leaving after their visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 7: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave Canada House in London, United Kingdom on January 7, 2020. Duke and Duchess of Sussex met Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the UK and the staff and thanked them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leaving after their visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex visit Canada House to meet with HE. Ms. Janice Charette, High Commissioner in Canada to the UK as well as staff to thank them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada at Canada House on January 7, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex visit Canada House to meet with HE. Ms. Janice Charette, High Commissioner in Canada to the UK as well as staff to thank them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada at Canada House on January 7, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
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“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 come to, that I would step my family back from all I had ever known to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.”

The father to 8-month-old Archie went on to reference the media scrutiny his family has received,” calling it a “powerful force.”

“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.”

He added that he and Meghan plan to continue to “lead a life of service,” and said that the couple considered it a “privilege” to receive support from the public.

 

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