"It brings me great sadness that it has come to this."
On Saturday, it was announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will give up their royal titles and repay the £2.4m in public funds that was used to renovate their UK home.
The couple made the decision to step back as working members of the royal family in early January, citing their wishes to become ‘financially independent’ and escape the constant scrutiny of the press.
They will still be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, however they will no longer formally represent the queen or receive money from the British government.
Last night, Harry spoke out publicly for the first time since the news broke, addressing his big decision at a fundraiser for Sentebale, the HIV/AIDs charity he co-founded in 2006.
“The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly,” he said. “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 that we’re not walking away, and we’re not 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 to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into whatI hope can be a more peaceful life.
Harry said that meeting Meghan gave him “the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life” and that he hoped the audience could “trust” that the couple hold the same values.
“I 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,” he said.
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.
He went on to say that he will always have “the utmost respect” for his grandmother the Queen, and will always 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”.
Whew. The entire speech was posted to the couple’s official Instagram account soon after the event, leaving no chance for the world not to hear what Harry had to say.