Britain’s Prince Harry opened up of his sadness at being forced to give up his royal duties in a deal with Queen Elizabeth and senior Windsors that will see him and his wife Meghan exit official roles to seek an independent future.
Buckingham Palace and the queen announced on Saturday that Harry and Meghan would no longer be working members of Britain’s monarchy, no longer use their “Royal Highness” titles and would now pay their own way in life, freeing them to forge new careers.
The Duke of Sussex has said he is “taking a leap of faith” in stepping back from his life as a member of the royal family but added “there really was no other option”.
Speaking to supporters of the charity Sentebale at a dinner in London, the Duke of Sussex said: “Before I begin, I must say I can only imagine what you may have heard and 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 who many of you have watched grow up over the last 35 years but now with a clearer perspective.
“The UK is my home and a place that I love, that will never change. I have grown up feeling supported by 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 had hoped for all my life.
“It brings me great sadness that it has come to this,” said Harry. He said the decision to step back had followed months of talks and had not been a decision he had come to lightly. They were not walking away, he explained.
“As far as this goes, there really was no other option,” he added.
He was speaking to the audience at the charity he founded to help children with HIV in Africa.
Buckingham Palace have said the couple would no longer receive public money and that they would repay the cost of refurbishing their cottage in Windsor, which official figures show amounted to 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million).
But certain details, such as their future security arrangements or whether the couple could continue to use the “Sussex Royal” title for their website and branding, have either not been finalised or publicly revealed.
Meghan is currently in Canada with their baby son Archie and Harry is expected to join her soon.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier on Sunday he believed that the whole of Britain would want to wish the very best to the couple for their future.
“As I said before … I was sure that the royal family, which has been around a very long time, will find a way forward,” Johnson told Sky News.
However, Meghan’s father was less generous to the couple.
Markle told Britain’s Channel 5 news in a documentary recorded before Saturday’s announcement but aired on Sunday that he believed Meghan was tossing away “every girl’s dream” and damaging the monarchy.
“They are destroying it, they are cheapening it, they’re making it shabby,” he said.