Over the weekend, the Crown reached an agreement with Prince Harry as to what his and Meghan Markle’s lives would look like, once they took a “step back as ‘senior members’ of the Royal Family.” Notably, the couple will no longer use their HRH titles, and they will be absolved from their duties representing the monarchy. In a statement, the Queen gave the pair her blessing, nodding to the “intense scrutiny” the Sussexes have received over the past two years, and saying that she “support[s] their wish for a more independent life.”
So far, however, neither Harry nor Meghan have spoken publicly about the decision, outside the surprise statement they released in early January, announcing their intention to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution” — meaning the monarchy — and to become “financially independent.” On Sunday, however, Harry delivered his first public remarks on the situation, posted to the Sussex Royal Instagram account.
At a dinner for supporters of Sentebale, a charity Harry co-founded for children affected by HIV/AIDS in Lesotho, Botswana, and Malawi, the Duke of Sussex addressed the departure, saying “there was no other option.” Still, he emphasized, “We aren’t walking away.”
A transcript of the portion of his speech explaining the decision is below:
“Before I begin, I must say that I can only imagine what you may have heard — or perhaps read — over the past 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 past 35 years, but now with a clearer perspective. The UK is my home, and a place that I love. That will never change. I’ve grown up feeling supported by so many of you, and I’ve 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!
I also know that 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. 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 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. But I hope that helps you understand what it had come to, that I would step my family back from all I had 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 was a great honor to serve my country and the Queen. When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing. You looked out for me for so long, but the media is a powerful force, and my hope is that one day, our collective support for each other can be more powerful. Because this is so much bigger than just us.
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, 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 to 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, so thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”