Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, expressed ‘great sadness’ in his first public statement since Buckingham Palace announced he and his wife, Meghan Markle, would give up their royal titles while stepping back as senior members of the royal family.
“The UK is my home and a place that I love,” Harry said in a speech at a charity event in London on 19 January 2020. “That will never change. 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.
“Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding,” he said. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.”
A new agreement
Harry’s speech comes after the Queen and Buckingham Palace released a statement detailing the couple’s ‘spilt’ from the royal family.
The agreements stipulates that they will no longer receive public funds for royal duties, they can no longer formally represent the Queen, and they will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the royal family.
The palace said it would not comment on what security arrangements would be in place for the royal couple. The couple will also repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.
Prince Harry on his family’s future
The prince says that he ‘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 have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life. I was born into this life,” he said, “and it is a great honor to serve my country and the Queen.”
“When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing,” he said, referring to Princess Diana, who died in August 1997 after a car she was in crashed while being pursued by members of the paparazzi.
“You’ve looked out for me for so long,” Harry said, “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.”
“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.”