“Good evening everyone, and thank you very much for being here for Sentebale,” the prince said, beginning a six-minute speech that was shared on the Sussex Royal Instagram page.
“Before I begin, I can only imagine what you’ve heard or perhaps read in 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 in the past 35 years.”
He went on:
“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 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.
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,” he told the crowd. “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.”
“It brings me great sadness it’s come to this,” the duke said of his step back as a working royal, saying that he had hoped to still serve the queen even as he and Meghan stopped taking public funds, but “there was no other option.”
“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. 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 said. “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.”
“It has been our privilege to serve you and we will continue to live a life of service,” he said of his “leap of faith” and “next step” alongside Meghan.
On Saturday, the queen released a statement through Buckingham Palace regarding the final details of the Sussexes’ exit as working members of the royal family.
In the extremely personal statement, the monarch also singled out Meghan with praise.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” the queen said. “I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.”
According to the terms in the statement, Meghan and Harry will no longer be able to carry out royal duties, will drop their His and Her Royal Highness titles, and will not receive public funding as of spring 2020. They will also pay commercial rent on their U.K. home, Frogmore Cottage, and reimburse the British public the $3.06 million used for renovations.
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