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Prince Harry on Sunday publicly addressed his decision to “step back” from royal life, saying he wanted to continue supporting Queen Elizabeth without public funding, but “unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.”
In a speech given at a dinner for supporters of the Sentebale charity in London, the Prince addressed why he and his wife, Meghan Markle, chose to relinquish their “royal highness” titles and move part-time to Canada.
“Before I begin, I must say that I can only imagine what you may have heard, or perhaps read, over the past few weeks,” Harry began. “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 past 35 years, but now with a clearer perspective.”
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“The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change,” he continued. “I have grown up feeling supported by so many of you, and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms, as you saw the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hooray!”
Harry then stressed that he and Markle still held the same values, and she’s still the same woman he’s loved. He also recounted the excitement they felt when they began their journey together, and addressed the “great sadness” he feels at the situation becoming so dire.
“The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly,” the Prince 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, we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.”
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Harry then explained that he and Markle, 38, originally hoped to support the queen without funds from the public.
“Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible,” he stated. “I’ve accepted this knowing it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am, but I hope it 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 more peaceful life.”
Harry then thanked the crowd for taking “me under your wing” after the death of his mother, Diana, 23 years ago.
“You looked after 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. So in that respect, nothing changes.”
Harry concluded by saying he holds “the utmost respect” for his grandmother, and is “incredibly grateful for the support his family has shown him in recent 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,” said Harry. “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 ever have imagined. We are taking a leap of faith, so thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”
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The speech came after the announcement that Harry and Markle will no longer be referred to as “royal highness” and will pay back the $3.1 million they used to renovate their home, Frogmore Cottage.
A video of the speech was posted to the official Instagram page of Harry and Markle, simply captioned: “Remarks from The Duke of Sussex at tonight’s dinner for supporters of Sentebale in London.”
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