Prince Harry has finally spoken out about his and his wife Meghan Markle's decision to "step back" from their royal duties.
On Sunday (January 20), Harry, Duke of Sussex —as he's now-called — delivered a speech at his Sentebale charity event, addressing for the first time his and Meghan's recent agreement with his grandmother Queen Elizabeth about their new roles as members of the royal family.
“Before I begin, I must say that I can only imagine what you may have heard or perhaps read over the last few weeks. 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 with a clearer perspective,” Harry told the audience.
“The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change," he said. "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!”
The Duke continued, “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. 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 that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly." the 35-year-old shared. "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," he admitted. "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 [Princess Diana] 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,” he said. “It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service.”
The prince concluded his speech saying, “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 – thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”
Harry's heartfelt oration came one day after Queen Elizabeth said in a statement that she and her family had “found a constructive and supportive way forward.” As Royal fans know, Buckingham Palace went on to explain the details of Harry and Meghan’s next steps in a statement of its own, revealing that Harry and Meghan will “no longer receive public funds,” will not retain their HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) titles, and can no longer formally represent The Queen — all of which going into effect in Spring 2020.
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