Prince Harry says he is sad about his and Meghan Markle's upcoming royal exit and adds that he was the one who made the decision for the two to step back from their royal duties.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had more than a week ago expressed their intent to step back as "senior members" of the monarchy and "work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support" his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. On Saturday, following talks with Harry and other royal family members and aides, Buckingham Palace announced a deal regarding Meghan and Harry's future.
The duchess and their son Archie Harrison currently remain in Canada, where they spent the last couple of months with the duke. Harry has been in England for talks with the Queen and other engagements. He spoke about the royal exit agreement reached with the Queen for the first time on Sunday, at a private dinner in London for his charity Sentebale. Here are some highlights:
1. "The U.K. Is My Home": In their initial announcement, Harry and Meghan said they wanted to "balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity."
"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 last 35 years—but with a clearer perspective," Harry said at the Sentebale dinner. "The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change."
2. Harry Says He and Meghan Share the Same Values: "I have grown up feeling support from 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. Finally, the second son of [the late Princess] Diana got hitched, hurray!" he said at the dinner. "I also know you've come to know me well enough over all these years to trust that the women I chose as my wife upholds the same values as I do. And she does, and she's the same woman I feel in love with."
3. Harry Feels "Great Sadness" Over the Royal Exit: "We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride," he said. "Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve. For these reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this."
4. Harry Says He Made the Decision: Many tabloids have dubbed the royal exit "Megxit," implying the duchess had masterminded the move. In his speech at the dinner, Harry debunked this.
"The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly," Harry 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," he continued. "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 what I hope can be a more peaceful life."
The palace had said on Saturday that under the new arrangement, Harry and Meghan "will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties" and "have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their U.K. family home." The two had the building renovated with more than $3 million of taxpayer money last year.
5. Harry vs. the Media: In the months leading up to the couple's royal exit announcement, Harry slammed the U.K. tabloids for their mostly negative coverage of Meghan, and the two have even sued a few of them. Meghan got emotional in an ITV documentary about the pressures she's felt amid such press and Harry opened up about the death of his mother, who died in a car crash in 1997 while trying to escape the paparazzi. He said, "I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum."
"I was born into this life, and it is a great honor to serve my country and the Queen," Harry said at the dinner. "When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing. You've looked out for 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."
6. Harry Says the Royal Family Supports Meghan: "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," Harry said at the dinner.
Over the past couple of years, there have been unconfirmed tabloid rumors that there was tension between Meghan and Harry's family members, and that her joining the royals had contributed to a rift between him and his brother Prince William.
7. A "Life of Service": The palace had said on Saturday that Harry and Meghan "understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments."
"It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service," Harry said at the dinner.
"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," he continued. "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."
8. A "Leap of Faith": "We are taking a leap of faith," Harry said. "Thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step."
9. Archie Got to See Snow! On a brighter note, Harry revealed at the dinner that his and Meghan's son "saw snow for the first time the other day and thought it was bloody brilliant!"