Prince Harry Addresses Royal Exit: "We're Not Walking Away"

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"What I want to make clear is we're not walking away, and we certainly aren't walking away from you," the Duke of Sussex said in his speech.

Prince Harry is speaking out for the first time after he and wife Meghan Markle's exit as senior members of the royal family.

During a Sunday dinner for supporters of his Sentebale charity in London, Harry thanked the public for their support but explained that he felt he had "no other option" than to step away from his role in the royal family. 

"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," he began his speech.

"The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. I have grown up feeling supported 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 Diana got hitched, hooray!" he said to laughter from the crowd. "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."

The duke shared how he and his wife have done "everything we can to fly the flag" and carry out the roles for the royal family. However, he admitted he felt "sadness" for the decision the couple recently made in stepping back from their role as royals. 

"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 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.

On Saturday, Buckingham Palace announced that the couple would no longer use the titles "royal highness" or receive public funds for their work. The duke also addressed this decision in his speech.

"Our hope was to continue serving the queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations, but without public funding," Prince Harry said. "Unfortunately, that wasn't possible. I've accepted this, knowing 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," he said. 

He continued by sharing a memory of his mother with the audience. 

"I was born into this life, and it is a great honor to serve my country and the queen," Harry said.  "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."

Queen Elizabeth II had shared in a statement Saturday that she and the royal family hope the agreement met with Harry and Meghan "allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life."

Harry touched on the appreciation he has for his family in his speech, noting he has "the utmost respect for my grandmother, my commander in chief."

"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."

Near the end of his speech, Harry thanked the audience, as well as all of those who have followed his and Meghan's journey. "We are taking a leap of faith — thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step."

Watch his full speech below.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

at tonight’s dinner for supporters of Sentebale in London Video © SussexRoyal

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