Prince Harry has spoken of his ‘great sadness’ at leaving the Royal Family, but said he and Meghan had ‘no other option’ than to quit senior royal duties.
The Duke of Sussex was at a formal private dinner at the Ivy, in Chelsea, for vulnerable children’s charity Sentebale, which founded in 2006, when he made the comments.
In an emotional speech, the 35-year-old said the UK is a place that he loves and that will ‘never change’ and the royal couple had hoped to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth and his military associations, without any public funding, but this was not possible.
Harry also paid a stirring tribute to his grandmother, calling her his ‘commander-in- chief’ and that he was ‘incredibly grateful’ to Her Majesty and the rest of his family for supporting him and Meghan.
He said: ‘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. 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.’
It comes after last night’s statement from the Queen that Harry and Meghan will ‘not use their HRH titles’, as they look to forge a new life in North America.
As well as returning the £2.4 million spent on a lavish refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, they will pay a commercial rent – estimated at up to £360,000 a year – to retain it as their British home.
The Duke of Sussex added: ‘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 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 peaceful life.’
The deal hammered out at Sandringham yesterday stipulates that the pair, who will be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will cease to be working members of the Royal Family from this spring and will not perform any official duties on behalf of the Queen – effectively leaving ‘The Firm’ completely.
By quitting their senior royal roles, they will sacrifice their HRH title.
This evening, the Duke of Sussex said the couple would continue to lead a life of service and were taking a ‘huge leap of faith.’
He 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.
‘Together you have given me an education about living and this role has taught me more about what it right and just than I could ever have imagined.
‘We are taking a leap of faith so thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.’
In an adorable moment, Harry also revealed his son Archie, who is in Canada with Meghan, recently saw snow for the first time.
He told the audience: 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.’
The duke also praised former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas – who is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with HIV – for changing the way people think about the virus.
He also introduced singer Lewis Capaldi who he said had flown in directly from Malaysia, via Dubai, on his way to the Grammy Awards in LA.
Harry added: ‘I can’t not mention my dear friend Gareth Thomas – who in my mind – has quite literally changed the way people think about HIV – so thank you bud.
‘By being here tonight, every one of you are helping to fight that stigma and helping a generation of children and young adults to becoming the generation that ends it.
‘There’s a lot to do, but it’s only possible by working together and receiving support from people like yourselves and like Lewis Capaldi, who has so generously flown here directly from Malaysia, via Dubai, taking tonight out as a detour on his way to the Grammys in Los Angeles – where he is nominated for best song.
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Source: Daily Mail